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Subject: Blulu, An arithmetically paired fishing game. rss

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Justus
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I would have never imagined myself a fan of the fishing game genre, but when my friend gave me a moroccan deck about a year ago, I discovered the game Ronda which is a very nice tight little game. After realizing the Decktet doesn't really have any straight up fishing games, I thought I'd make one. I had been designing a trick taking game for pairs (still under development) but this one came together really nicely.

There are a lot of thoughts under variants...and its both a sign that I think the game works and that it has not been playtested to the point where I am ready to commit to a final form. But at this point, its certainly ready for the wild and any thoughts, comments, and critiques of the ruleset and game would be greatly apprecated!

Version 0.1 - 11 June 2011

Blulu
An arithmetically paired fishing game.

Introduction
The jackrabbits of the eastern deserts are regarded as a pest and a delicacy. Lesser known is that between eating (and being eaten) they while away their time with a simple fishing game.

As a fishing game, the goal of the game is to capture cards. Each player will play two cards every turn, capturing cards using either the sum or difference of the played cards. The players that captures the most cards scores points for the round. The first player to reach twenty-two points wins the game and is granted the privilege to be the first bunny out for dinner.

Setup
Shuffle the basic deck and deal four cards to each player and four face up to the table. After the initial deal, no further cards will be dealt to the table, but there will be three additional deals during the round (emptying the deck). The same player will be the dealer during the entire round, and the dealer switches each round.

Only the two player version has been playtested, so the two player game is the basis of these rules.

Gameplay
A player will play two cards on each turn.

If the sum OR the difference between the played cards equal the rank of a card on the table, the player captures the card on the table along the pair just played. If there are several cards of that rank on the table, then all cards are captured, a player may not leave any on the table. A player is restricted to capturing only ONE rank per turn, even if a play could capture two ranks. (7 and 3 captures 4 OR Crown but not both).

If the cards played are a pair (of the same rank) they will capture all the cards of the rank just played. (7 and 7 would capture a 7).

If a player cannot make a capturing play, then he or she must place the two cards on the table.

When both players are out of cards (after two plays each) the dealer then deals out four more cards to each player. At the end of the game, the last player to capture cards takes the remaining cards on the table.

Bonuses
There are two possible bonuses during gameplay.

Flush – each of the cards (played and captured) share a same suit. The capturing player scores 2 points. (ie 7WaveWyrms-3MoonWave=4WaveLeaves)

Sextet – the group of cards (played and captured) show one of each suit between them without duplication. A sextet must have exactly one instance of each suit. The capturing player scores 4 points. (ie 4waveLeaves+5WyrmKnots=9MoonSun, or any three of a kind of the 2-9 ranks)

Some warrens will exchange captured cards to keep track of bonus points (if you score a flush, the opponent will place two of her captured cards in your capture pile) and the bonus points are not “scored” until the end of a round. Some warrens do not exchange cards but keep a running tally, thus scoring bonus points immediately and ending the game as soon as a player reaches 22 points.

Scoring the Round
At the end of a round, each player will count their captured cards. The player with more than 18 cards (half the deck) will score a point for each card in excess (20 cards would score 2 points).

As noted in the introduction, the first player to reach 22 points is the winner. If both players reach 22 points, then whoever has more points is the winner. If both players are tied, then play additional rounds until the tie is broken.

Variants
There are several variants that were tested. The most promising one is to deal out six cards to each player per deal (none to the table). It may actually be a better game, but after designing and plying it with the four cards, it felt a little strange to me. It may be in part because I have a numerological a fondness for the current game with 2 pairs dealt, 2 plays per round, 4 deals per round, 22 points per game. However, one could easily construct a cohesive numerical system with 3 pairs, 3 plays per round, 3 deals per round, 18 card goal, and 18 or 36 point games. As such, I would not hesitate to switch numerological allegiances, if this variant is clearly the better game after further playtesting.

A streamlined version (my original idea for the game) is to calculate only the difference between the cards. I think it works, but is a little too constricted.

A more complex version would be to allow a pair of cards to capture BOTH the sum and the difference of the two cards. However, I think it adds a little unneeded complexity to the calculations and detracts from the suit bonuses.

Extended Deck (untested)
There is no place for the excuse, but there are uses for the pawns and courts. Both the pawns and courts are worth 0 points in summing cards. In all cases, scoring at the end of the round is based off of the deck size divided by the number of players.

A 3 player game could add either the pawns or courts making a 40 card deck. Deal four cards to each player and four to the table. There will be three deals in a round. One could just use a standard deck and start with no cards dealt to the table.

A 4 player game could also be played using the standard deck with two deals per round (four cards to the table during the initial deal) but I suspect each round would be a little short and unsatisfying. Maybe this will work better with a double deck.

In a 2 player game, add both pawns and courts to the deck for a deck of 44 cards. Deal and play as in the main rules, but there will be an additional round.

Many domesticated warrens are rumored to play a variant called Brulu, using a 40 card deck including pawns. There are no cards dealt to the table during the initial deal and they play to 41 points. Many aficionados consider this the purest way to play.

Thanks!
The Brulu variant is of course a nod to the Moroccan card game Ronda so let me start with my friend Margaret who gave me a Moroccan deck, inspiring me to find the game and develop a rough draft of the rules (surprisingly hard to find on the English speaking internet). I sent these rules to John Pagat who then did an amazing job doing real research and completely rewriting the rules; thus publishing the only comprehensive, Ronda rule set in English. Of course, many, many thanks to my girlfriend who helped me playtest the game – not only Blulu but also Ronda when I was trying to figure out how that darn game worked using fragmented descriptions found on different websites. And to my old bunnies Buster and Lulu, wherever they’re hopping now…
 
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Nate Straight

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aaarg_ink wrote:
Bonuses
There are two possible bonuses during gameplay.

Flush – if all the cards (played and captured) share a same suit, then the capturing player scores 2 points.

Set – if the cards (played and captured) show all six suits with no duplicates (a “bharg set”) then the capturing player scores 4 points.


I like the flush idea.

The set idea sounds good in theory, but seems like it would be a bit too random [even for a fishing game, which is inherently random almost to the point of distaste--for me--but more on that later].

The most common way to get a set would probably be picking up a 3-of-a-kind, but being dealt the pair of any given rank out of 4 cards is pretty unlikely [too early right now to work it out].

How many other ways would there be [i.e. non-pairs] of getting a set bonus? In Bharg, sets don't have to have any particular assortment of ranks, which makes them more common; here, they'd be tricky.

I can't think of a set of non-paired cards off-hand that would be a capture in this game and form a Bharg set. There wouldn't really be many trade-offs to consider; you either have the set or you don't.

Whereas the flush thing seems a little easier to handle / track. You can try to remember whether a certain rank you'd need has gone by or whether your opponent is likely to play it [and would be unable to capture].

Not sure what to think.

Quote:
Variants
There are several variants that were tested. The most promising one is to deal out six cards to each player per deal (none to the table). It may actually be a better game, but after designing and plying it with the four cards, it felt a little strange to me. It may be in part because I have a numerological a fondness for the current game with 2 pairs dealt, 2 plays per round, 4 deals per round, 22 points per game. However, one could easily construct a cohesive numerical system with 3 pairs, 3 plays per round, 3 deals per round, 18 card goal, and 18 or 36 point games. As such, I would not hesitate to switch numerological allegiances, if this variant is clearly the better game after further playtesting.


Watch out with that numerical beauty driving design kind of thing. I'm fond of "cute" "numerological" systems, too, but it doesn't really seem to be the best way to put together a game for optimal play.

That said, for sheer "numerological" reasons, I like the 3-pairs / 3-plays / 3-deals / 18-card goal / 18-point game. It also makes it possible to win in one hand, which is a nice little twist [though hard to achieve].

I also like it for the added tactical game space it would provide. As written, your game has exactly as many permutations as a standard 4-card fishing game [the math is a little weird], which always seemed low.
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P.D. Magnus
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I don't really have a sense of fishing games, other than some Go Stop played against the computer, but this looks interesting.

aaarg_ink wrote:

Some warrens will exchange captured cards to keep track of bonus points (if you score a flush, the opponent will place two of her captured cards in your capture pile) and the bonus points are not “scored” until the end of a round.


Won't this effectively make a flush worth 4 points? That is, your opponent loses 2 and you gain 2.
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Justus
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NateStraight wrote:
aaarg_ink wrote:
Bonuses
There are two possible bonuses during gameplay.
...
Set – if the cards (played and captured) show all six suits with no duplicates (a “bharg set”) then the capturing player scores 4 points.

...
set idea sounds good in theory, but seems like it would be a bit too random [even for a fishing game, which is inherently random almost to the point of distaste--for me--but more on that later].

The most common way to get a set would probably be picking up a 3-of-a-kind, but being dealt the pair of any given rank out of 4 cards is pretty unlikely [too early right now to work it out].

How many other ways would there be [i.e. non-pairs] of getting a set bonus? In Bharg, sets don't have to have any particular assortment of ranks, which makes them more common; here, they'd be tricky.

I can't think of a set of non-paired cards off-hand that would be a capture in this game and form a Bharg set. There wouldn't really be many trade-offs to consider; you either have the set or you don't.


I haven't done the math but all I can say is that they definitely occur in the wild and more often as a non paired set -- and it does pay to keep one's eye out for it. However it is such a lucky sort of thing that I did not designate a very high bonus value for that. That said, in Ronda, being dealt a three of a kind (out of three cards) is worth 5 -- which is 1/8th the necessary score of 41, so maybe 4 out of 22 is still to high.

I'd be curious what you think of Ronda ( http://www.pagat.com/fishing/ronda.html ). It has more streamlined rules than either Casino and Scopa. But I wonder if the obsession with streamlined rules (ala Knizia) is a more modern thing.

Quote:

Whereas the flush thing seems a little easier to handle / track. You can try to remember whether a certain rank you'd need has gone by or whether your opponent is likely to play it [and would be unable to capture].


I wonder how much of it comes down to preferences in gaming. I'm a "go with the flow" card player which is why I'll never be particularly good at trick taking games, nor really an expert at climbing games even though I enjoy them immensely. I wouldn't be surprised if a lack of potential depth is a serious shortcoming to Blulu. I think that a lot of traditional card games are played at this "go with the flow" level of depth -- but most of them have room for expertise if one so desires. One can have a lot of fun your whole life as a casual cribbage player, but there is a lot of room for awesomeness if you so desire.


Quote:
Quote:
Variants
There are several variants that were tested. The most promising one is to deal out six cards to each player per deal (none to the table). It may actually be a better game, but after designing and plying it with the four cards, it felt a little strange to me. It may be in part because I have a numerological a fondness for the current game with 2 pairs dealt, 2 plays per round, 4 deals per round, 22 points per game. However, one could easily construct a cohesive numerical system with 3 pairs, 3 plays per round, 3 deals per round, 18 card goal, and 18 or 36 point games. As such, I would not hesitate to switch numerological allegiances, if this variant is clearly the better game after further playtesting.


Watch out with that numerical beauty driving design kind of thing. I'm fond of "cute" "numerological" systems, too, but it doesn't really seem to be the best way to put together a game for optimal play.thumbsup(Obviously, I'm a total sucker for these things but I agree wholeheartedly-jp)thumbsup

That said, for sheer "numerological" reasons, I like the 3-pairs / 3-plays / 3-deals / 18-card goal / 18-point game. It also makes it possible to win in one hand, which is a nice little twist [though hard to achieve].

I also like it for the added tactical game space it would provide. As written, your game has exactly as many permutations as a standard 4-card fishing game [the math is a little weird], which always seemed low.


There is certainly more tactical space in the Trio variant, and like I said, it may well be that I'm overly married to the idea of pairs (and exponential pairs) right now to judge objectively (about this subjective game playing experience). One concpetual concern about this "Trio" variant is whether there is a significant dealer advantage in the game. My only real gameplay reservation about the is that it adds a bit more complexity when looking at your 6 card hand (ie flow/depth discussion above)...though I am just asking you to do simple arithmetic.

I also like the idea that a game could conceivably end in one round (didn't even notice it!) but I wonder if an 18 point game would generally be a bit short, but then again it could be easily be played as a best of seven (best of nine ).

Thanks for your response!
 
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Justus
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pmagnus wrote:
I don't really have a sense of fishing games, other than some Go Stop played against the computer, but this looks interesting.

aaarg_ink wrote:

Some warrens will exchange captured cards to keep track of bonus points (if you score a flush, the opponent will place two of her captured cards in your capture pile) and the bonus points are not “scored” until the end of a round.


Won't this effectively make a flush worth 4 points? That is, your opponent loses 2 and you gain 2.


I have to do this mental exercise every time I explain this because it still feels wrong to me. Imagine a game where you both capture 18 cards, but your opponent had a flush. With immediate scoring he would have 2 bonus points + 0 end of round, you would score 0 end of round points. In the card exchange system he would have 20 cards and you would have 16 cards -- in this situation he would score 2 points at the end of the round and you would score 0 cards -- remember there is no extra penalty for having less than 18 cards.

It may be a problem in a multi-player game (I haven't thought it through) but I think its a lovely way to keep track of scoring in a 2P game. I have a weird allergy to pencil and paper scoring, so I try to minimize it even though a written record would still be necessary in this game! By the way, the idea of exchanging cards to score is straight out of Ronda -- its not standard, but it is a way to play that game. That's one reason I like Euchre...just for the score track mechanism.
 
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pmagnus wrote:
I don't really have a sense of fishing games, other than some Go Stop played against the computer, but this looks interesting.

aaarg_ink wrote:

Some warrens will exchange captured cards to keep track of bonus points (if you score a flush, the opponent will place two of her captured cards in your capture pile) and the bonus points are not “scored” until the end of a round.


Won't this effectively make a flush worth 4 points? That is, your opponent loses 2 and you gain 2.


Ah, but those two cards would only be worth points to one player (the player who captures more than 18). The player who captures less cards wouldn't score points for the cards anyway, so there is no loss for xim.

Although I do see a secondary "issue" in that if the loser of a hand has taken enough cards from the winner, you end up with less points being scored in a round than if you scored by pencil. It could make the game longer, which may have unintended side effects.
 
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Greg J
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aaarg_ink wrote:

I wonder how much of it comes down to preferences in gaming. I'm a "go with the flow" card player which is why I'll never be particularly good at trick taking games, nor really an expert at climbing games even though I enjoy them immensely.


I share this approach to card games with you and therefore look forward to trying your designs.

Welcome to the very prestigious Decktet Game Designers club! laugh
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Maxx_Pointy wrote:
pmagnus wrote:
I don't really have a sense of fishing games, other than some Go Stop played against the computer, but this looks interesting.

aaarg_ink wrote:

Some warrens will exchange captured cards to keep track of bonus points (if you score a flush, the opponent will place two of her captured cards in your capture pile) and the bonus points are not “scored” until the end of a round.


Won't this effectively make a flush worth 4 points? That is, your opponent loses 2 and you gain 2.


Ah, but those two cards would only be worth points to one player (the player who captures more than 18). The player who captures less cards wouldn't score points for the cards anyway, so there is no loss for xim.

Although I do see a secondary "issue" in that if the loser of a hand has taken enough cards from the winner, you end up with less points being scored in a round than if you scored by pencil. It could make the game longer, which may have unintended side effects.


I could see that. An extra round here or there could certainly be the difference between winning and losing. But then again my experience with these games is that they are nip and tuck for a while until the wheels come off the bus for a round and usually its hard for the guy on the wrong end of the deck to catch up -- if he even has a chance.

That said, I actually suspect 22 is a little short for a full game so any scoring mechanism that might slightly dampen the speed of the game is fine by me.
 
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Octogreg wrote:

I share this approach to card games with you and therefore look forward to trying your designs.

Welcome to the very prestigious Decktet Game Designers club! laugh


Its a surprisingly addictive activity!
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aaarg_ink wrote:
Octogreg wrote:

I share this approach to card games with you and therefore look forward to trying your designs.

Welcome to the very prestigious Decktet Game Designers club! laugh


Its a surprisingly addictive activity!


Yep!
 
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Octogreg wrote:
aaarg_ink wrote:
Octogreg wrote:

I share this approach to card games with you and therefore look forward to trying your designs.

Welcome to the very prestigious Decktet Game Designers club! laugh


Its a surprisingly addictive activity!


Yep!


And hey...now I'm an official BGG Game Designer! Life is good! hehehe
 
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Octogreg wrote:
aaarg_ink wrote:

I wonder how much of it comes down to preferences in gaming. I'm a "go with the flow" card player which is why I'll never be particularly good at trick taking games, nor really an expert at climbing games even though I enjoy them immensely.


I share this approach to card games with you and therefore look forward to trying your designs.

Welcome to the very prestigious Decktet Game Designers club! laugh


Those of you who have not been following the Rainbow Deck may like to look at and comment upon the last couple of posts on this thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/6899409#6899409
 
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AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
Octogreg wrote:
aaarg_ink wrote:

I wonder how much of it comes down to preferences in gaming. I'm a "go with the flow" card player which is why I'll never be particularly good at trick taking games, nor really an expert at climbing games even though I enjoy them immensely.


I share this approach to card games with you and therefore look forward to trying your designs.

Welcome to the very prestigious Decktet Game Designers club! laugh


Those of you who have not been following the Rainbow Deck may like to look at and comment upon the last couple of posts on this thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/6899409#6899409


AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
Compare RD with the Decktet. That has plenty of games that are ports. But it also has lots of new games designed just for the Decktet, some of which are pretty good. Those games exploit the quirky nature of the Decktet - RD by comparison is much more straightforward. That is why, IMHO, the Decktet will 'make it', and the RD will not.


That was why I wasn't particularly interested in the Decktet -- I thought it was going to play out similar to a traditional deck. But once I finally got around to building my own decktet and messing with it I was captured.

The Decktet's structure is interesting and is much more open to new possibilities. Any games with a comprehensive deck is likely to have been studied to death in the traditional card games world, a new game system needs to have a curveball to "add some spice".
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