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Card games

Another dream game — aggravated Beat Your Neighbour

Last night I was playing a card game in a dream. I’ve posted about this sort of thing before, so long-term readers will recall that the games usually turn out to be boring in real life, and never get finished. I don’t suppose this one will be any exception, but here goes anyway!

The game is for two players, who deal out a deck of 60 or so cards between them. Each card is of one of four colours (red, blue, green and purple in the dream, but might need to alter that for colour-blindness sensitivity), and has one of three patterns (spotted, striped or swirled). The players also need a six-sided die each.

The players take the top five cards off their deack to form a hand. One player chooses a card from their hand to play, face-up on the table between them. The other player must then play a card from their own hand against it. They each roll a die, and apply various modifiers that are printed on the cards; and the winner takes both cards and puts them on the bottom of their deck. In the dream we were using vast cards the size of newspapers, but I think conventional-sized ones would be rather better really.

The modifiers are what makes the game (possibly) interesting. Each card has potential modifiers against each colour; against each pattern; and if played at a particular alignment (there are three possible alignments with which the second player may place their card against the first – aligned, at right angles, or diagonally). So a particular card might be blue spotted, and it might have printed on it this collection of modifiers: “+2 vs green, –1 vs purple, –1 vs spotted, automatic win vs swirled, +2 at right angles, auto loss diagonally”. So if I play this card at right angles against a green spotted card, I get a net +3 modifier. Of course, that green spotted card will also have similar sorts of modifiers (vs my blue spotted at right angles) that my opponent will apply to their own die roll.

If there’s a tie (which includes the case of both automatic win, or both automatic loss) the cards are put to one side and then given to the winner of the following trick. Replenish your hand from your deck. Keep playing until one player has won all the cards.

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that this is basically just an aggravated version of Beat Your Neighbour out of Doors. (Or possibly a version of Top Trumps with all the interest removed from it.) And there seems to be little opportunity for skill. The first player can apply a bit of tactics to hand management (keeping a variety of options covered); and a bit of memory to recalling the sequence of opponent’s cards, once the deck’s first been recycled; and the second player also has a bit of hand management to do, if they have more than one likely winning card available to play. But mostly it’s number-crunching I guess: and it’s not obvious that those areas of skill identified are large enough to have a determining effect on the outcome, rather than just being frustratingly overwhelmed by random effects. Still, even so it might be good for kids.

Any thoughts?

6 replies on “Another dream game — aggravated Beat Your Neighbour”

My (entirely irrelevant) thought is that I’ve never heard that other game called Beat Your Neighbour Out of Doors before. Which, given that I already know three names for it Beggar My Neighbour, Strip Jack Naked, and Draw the Well Dry) is quite impressive. Any more?

I happily played the Game With More Names Than Rules for ages when I was a kid… so I suspect an aggravated version of it might prove popular with slightly older children who are just starting to work out that it’s totally deterministic. Being able to choose a card, rather than playing the next one off the pile, is probably enough to make it a whole extra bit of interesting.

(Do you top up your hand from your deck after each trick?)

There was some sort of reality breakdown going on in the background, which we had to finish the game in a hurry for — will that do?

Sadly, most of the dreams that I remember are pretty prosaic. Maybe I need to eat more cheese before bedtime.

I had this down as Top Trumps as I was reading… but in fact I think Top Trumps is a good candidate for a bit of tweaking. The game is almost great. I played it for countless hours as a kid during car journeys to school (before we all discovered roleplaying).

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