Friday, September 25, 2009

Families of Cards

So I thought today I'd skim down the types of card game families I enjoy.  And hit on some I need to try on the way.

Trick Taking

Ah yes, the big daddy.  I still love this genre.  My favorite of all of the games has to be Spades.  It's not as complicated as Bridge, but much more involving than Euchre or Oh Hell.

I like this genre because the strategy can run really deep.  Even after 100s of games, I can still make mistakes that I only catch in retrospect.  That really gives me a feeling of learning and understanding that I like.  It means the decisions are still interesting after all this time.

I do think there has to be bidding in trick taking games.  Otherwise it comes down to luck of the draw.  I also think the bidding is among the most interesting part; it can be really tough to predict what is going to happen.

The other thing I need is a partner.  I like having someone to depend on and curse at on alternating turns.  It just makes it that much more fun.

Favorite oddball:  Clumonds.  An odd take on 99.  I think I may actually go ahead and make an entry about it someday.

Rummy (Set Collection)

I grew up playing 500 Rummy.  (Well, 500 Rummy and Euchre).  I've been playing these games for many years.  I recently went back and tried true Gin Rummy to see how that fared.  And really, in the end, it's an okay genre.  There just aren't as many interesting decisions.  There are some, but they don't come every hand.

I do think this is one genre the modern boardgame craze has improved upon.  The Mystery Rummy series is much more enjoyable than the classic bland game; but it still has it's flaws.  Horrible production values crippled the recent Bonnie & Clyde version.  I'm thinking RGG phoned that one in or something.

Still, the best outbreak of this genre had to be Ticket to Ride.  I mean, TtR is just rummy with a board to help with scoring.  And yet that board and those plastic trains make all the difference.

Climbing-Trick Taking

I'm giving this genre it's own place.  It's not really trick taking.  It comes mainly from an Asian background where the native games are Big Two and derivatives.

It's snuck into American colleges as Asshole or President.

And it's taken over the euro-gamers as Tichu.  And in the end... I do have to tip my hat to Tichu.  Why?  Tichu just gets all the game theory right.  I play it at lunch often and just leave out the 4 special cards.  Yea, they're cool and all, but the game works just fine without them.

Scopone and Scopa  (Card Matching?)

I'm not even sure what to call this genre.  And I haven't gotten to try it yet.. but I will soon.  It's some manner of "card matching" or something.

You take turns playing 1 card.  If any number of cards in the middle of the table sum to your played cards then you claim them all and your played card and flip them into your scoring pile.  If your card can't claim anything then it gets added to the cards in the middle of the table.

The different versions of this game vary:

The number of cards you are dealt and if they are dealt in waves.
If any cards start in the middle.
Some of the scoring.

And the scoring is pretty cool.  Generally you get:

1 Point for the most Diamonds
1 Point for the 7 of Diamonds
1 Point for the most cards
1 Point for having the larges sum when you add together your highest card in each suit

It gets more complicated, but you see some interesting ideas spring out of it.

Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for interesting card games that walk that perfect line of about 70-80% skill and the rest luck.

(For those interested, is an excellent resource for all traditional card games the world over.)

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