Card games

Hands Up!

I thought about another microgame idea last night. In the vein of Shape Up!, this one has the working title Hands Up!

There are 18 cards, which each carry a symbol: there are two each of [red|blue|green] [circle|square|triangle].

Each card also carries a victory condition, which are all different. Each condition represents a possible combination of six cards as a mix of pairs of colour(s) and shape(s), eg. red red blue blue circle circle, red red square square triangle triangle, etc.

At the start of the game, each player (I reckon 2–4, although it might work for as many as 6) is dealt a face-down card which they keep. This indicates their personal victory condition.

The first player then deals a single hand of 6 cards off the top of the remaining deck. The idea is that this hand is passed around, and on their turn each player has ways to alter its composition. The first player to get the hand such that it matches their personal victory condition, wins the game. The 6 cards must all count: eg. if the hand has a blue triangle, you can count it as one of your required blues, or one of your required triangles, but not both.

So on your turn, what you do on your turn is: you draw a card from the top of the deck and add it to the hand. You then may either discard one of the now 7 cards, or play one of them. In either case that card is put onto the discard pile, leaving 6 in the hand: if those 6 match your victory condition, you declare it and win. When the deck is exhausted, shuffle and recycle the discards.

‘Play’ a card? Yes, this is the interesting bit: each card also has on it an action, which you enact when you play it. Actions are things like:

  • exchange your victory card for one of the cards in the hand;
  • look at another player’s victory card;
  • draw another card imediately, and discard one;
  • immediately shuffle the discards into the deck;
  • [etc, ideally 6 different ones]

It seems to me that the main danger is of the game getting a bit tug-of-war-y, with people with very different victory conditions pulling the hand back and forth and neither getting close to victory. So the action cards are going to be very important as ways of allowing a clever player to manipulate vctory.

(Another thing I’m wondering about is whether to not shuffle the discards, but instead just to invert them. In general I don’t like games that strongly reward memorizing card sequences. But perhaps this should be an exception, if it gives people another tool to win. (Although a big question mark over how useful a tool it would be, even if you have a terrific memory.))

(I’ve always likes the hand-passing mechanism of Space Beans, which I expect is used in loads of other games too. Here it’s not so much used as an out-think-the-next-player dealy, though; more as a way to deal with there being so few cards.)

Any thoughts, at this early stage?

6 replies on “Hands Up!”

Any thoughts, at this early stage?

This sounds good. Intuitively the two player would maybe be a bit too random, but 3+ players seems fun. Given the small deck size, 3 is probably the perfect number.

I love “look at another player’s victory card”. That seems like the right kind of interaction between players to make the game feel less like solitaire but without the position-wrecking qualities of actually swapping out another player’s victory condition.

How about “The next player may discard their victory card and draw a new one. If they choose not to, take another turn.”? Or is that too complex?

Interesting idea! I like the thinking. Don’t think it would be too complex… well, it’ll be easy enough to playtest. Good to mix in this sort of help-myself-but-possibly-also-help-you decision.

I lack Bateleur’s ability to analyse games, but to me this immediately sounds like a fun idea (more so than I thought about your earliest Shape Up posts). I’d like to try it!

My worry would mostly be that like a lot (partic. 4 or more person) FLUX then there is such a disconnect between the state of the game between your turns that there is essentially no long term view (you just evaluate afresh each time the cards get to you). So turns could be little more than: decide if you can win, decide if you can actually improve stuff for you, decide if you can mess with stuff other people might be aiming for).

But it’s just a worry, hope it works…

Mm, that is also a worry of mine. I think after three other players’ turns the hand will be largely unrecognizable when it comes back to you.

(Although, saying that, plenty of people seem to see that lack of necessity of planning as a virtue in Fluxx, rather than a flaw: so perhaps if it’s reasonably quick-moving that won’t be too bad.)

I’m hoping to make up a prototype and take it along to the playtest meetup in London on Sunday, so we shall see…

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