Hi! I've just thought of a new game. It seems very simple, but the question is would people buy it.

The deck will have 100 cards in it: five of each digit 0-9, 25 +'s, and 25 -'s. The + can serve as x and the - can serve as /. There will also be a little counter which can display numbers -999 to 999. It starts out at 0 and is placed in the center of the table.

This would be a PARTNERSHIP GAME for four players. People would be seated at a bridge table: North-South and East-West. North and West would start out with operands, East and South would start out with digits. All players would start out with a hand of 10 digits or numbers.

The goal is to build a math expression on the table which evaluates to your target number. The target numbers are determined by rolling a d10 inside a d10 (you've seen those dice) to produce a number from 10 to 109. North-South's target is that number. East-West's target is that number plus one. The next time a target number is needed, East-West rolls the die and North-South's target is the value plus one.

Starting with the value of 0 shown on the counter, North plays an operand onto the developing expression -- anywhere: it can be an exponent, root, tacking it onto a number to make it bigger, sign change, base, whatever -- and announces the expression's value up to that point. Then East-West goes, adding a digit or an operand (- - is +!). And so forth. If one partner runs out of cards before the other, the partner with the cards is forced to go every turn.

All overall expression values must be integers between -999 and 999.

Once all 40 cards have been played, the expression on the table is considered "frozen". Its value is calculated and displayed on the little counter, placed in the center of the table. The cards are cleaned up -- you don't want things to get TOO complicated with too many cards on the table -- and put off to the side. That expression basically gets summarized with one number -- "what we've got so far" -- and the next round begins. Each player redraws 10 of the OTHER type of card, and East (the member of East-West who now has the operands) plays an operand and we keep on going.

Once these 40 cards have been played (there are 20 left), both decks of 50 cards are reshuffled (separately, of course). The current value is recalculated and 40 cards are dealt out again. North stays with the digits, South gets the operands. And the game keeps on going until someone gets an equation. Who gets what cards goes like this (star means goes first):

North East South West

Round 1 mod 4: *OP DIG DIG OP

Round 2 mod 4: DIG *OP OP DIG

Round 3 mod 4: DIG OP *OP DIG

Round 4 mod 4: OP DIG DIG *OP

What do you think? If 10 cards is too many for a hand (40 cards in an equation can be complicated), maybe we can shrink it to 6 per hand and reshuffle after four rounds (96 cards total).

Thanks in advance,

ACG

That's an interesting thought. If someone manages to make 20, 50, 100, or something like that they could get bonus points. It would make sense to have those positions not hidden, though -- we've already got enough cards. I'm almost thinking cribbage: the limit is 31 but if you get 15's and stuff along the way it's good. The bonus numbers would likely have to be quite large as they should not overlap with the actual target.

Excellent idea. I had been debating allowing rotation of played cards (+ to x, - to /, possibly even 9 to 6 but the last is too cheesy), but that would mess up the sequence of cards being played as one partnership would have more cards than another. What I could do would be: whenever you play a card, you replenish it from the appropriate deck and never run out of cards in your hand (when your reshuffle the deck, freeze what you've got).

Also a good idea. However, I would recommend that cards which are removed be forced into the hand of the person removing it, which in turn requires that there be a maximum hand size of 10/6. Note that if you remove an operand and East has the operands, it doesn't matter if West has 5 cards in his hand: if East has 10 he can't take it.

Drawing new cards would definitely be a good idea. You improve your hand, but you are allowing your opponents an unencumbered attack on the board. It's like trading in tiles in Scrabble.

As far as the "people hate math" stuff goes, we could require that at most N operands be on the table at the time. That won't make it TOO complicated, and also keep in mind that all expressions must evaluate to integers.

So, here are the actions as I see them now. The equation gets reset back to the counter value if the pool of unused tiles runs out for any type.

1. Put down a card if you have one (board gets one card, hand loses one, pool gets zero cards)

2. Pick up a card if you have fewer than 10 in your hand (board loses one card, hand gets one, pool gets zero cards)

3. Trade in a card in your hand and replace it with a new one (board gets zero cards, hand gets one card, pool loses one card).

4. Rotate (operand only) or move a card provided that the new expression is still an integer in the allowed range (board gets zero cards, hand gets zero cards, pool gets zero cards).

The problem is that the fellow with the operands isn't going to gain much by swapping -- there's a 50% chance he'll pick the same thing he put back down. Then again, he's got more options as to what to do (for instance, he can do rotate operands).

If there were a way I could disguise all the math and use tokens of some sort that would make it a better seller, but I don't see how...

ACG

P.S. Something just occurred to me -- require that both partners play on the same turn without telling each other what they have. One provides an operand in a certain location, and the other provides the value. You can't make exponents all that easily though. But if you require binary operands all over the place, and the new digit must be associated with the new operand...that could introduce communication between partners. This would bring the "contract bridge" rule into effect -- partners cannot say anything to each other, and if they have a convention they must alert the opponents.