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The Blackjack River | Solitaire Game

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JewellGames
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Rules

Rivers is a tile-placement and set collection standard deck playing card game for two players. Players form distributaries off of the contested Blackjack River. Whenever a player forms a distributary with exactly 21 fish in it, they score it. Once the Blackjack River has run dry, the player with the most points wins the game!

The game can be played with either the custom Rivers: The Playing Card Game deck consisting of 70 cards or a standard playing card deck (including Jokers) along with the 4s, 5s, 6s, and 7s from a second matching standard playing card deck.

THE RULES HAVE COMPLETED CHANGED SINCE THE ORIGINAL POSTING. I WILL KEEP THIS AS IS FOR POSTERITY BUT PLEASE SEE LATEST POSTINGS FOR RELEVANT INFORMATION.

JewellGames
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Rule Revision

Reserved.

Heraclitus
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a couple questions of clarification
  1. Do I understand correctly that river segments are always played in a row, even when they are tributary or confluence segments?

  2. Do you want players who can't place a card to shuffle their hands into the deck before they redraw, even if that mean they may draw some or all of the same cards? Perhaps you want to avoid the shorter game that would result from putting the redraw first.

JewellGames
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1. Yes, they are played on

1. Yes, they are played on the same river of cards, not on multiple adjacent rivers.

2. I see what you mean. First, unable to play any card is very rare. Second, that may be a thought to look into thanks for bringing it up.

JewellGames
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Major updates to the rules. I

Major updates to the rules. I will also be adding some images for further rule clarification in the next few days.

Kroz1776
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Go-Fish, but AWESOME! (\(-o-)/)

Ok, so I must say this looks extremely interesting. A very light game with some cool mechanics. There are a few things that in a heavier game would probably need tweaking but the lightness of this game makes it so that it doens't really matter. I'm gonna have to try this with my family and see how they like it! Just a question out of curiosity though, how often do rivers reach that 21 sweet spot compared to overpopulating?

JewellGames
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Thanks! I can't wait to hear

Thanks! I can't wait to hear your feedback.

I would say the percentage of 21 in a two player game is a little higher because you have 3 rivers to choose from versus a four player game with only 4 rivers at a time but that is to incite a little competition with the face cards and contested locations. I am still testing to allow 5 rivers for a 4 player game if the perfect 21 is too hard.

In a two player game id say well over 80% of time players got that 21. But, with the fisherman rule added in version 3 a lot of friends would lay a fisherman and just try to complete asap regardless of sum for the quick 6 points so that has lowered the need or incentive to get that perfect 21 a little.

The "Hungry Bear" Jokers variant also helps find the desired 21 sum by playing it and subtracting 3 from a river on any turn you choose in the game.

Kroz1776
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Fishy fishermen! ('o')

So, let me get this straight. If you populate the river first you will remove everyone elses' fishermen and put yours into your resevoir and score 6 points per fisherman of yours?

JewellGames
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Yep!

Yep! Any of your fisherman already attached to the completely populated river is earned. And its pretty hard to do with the opposing players gunning for completion. I just played 4 two player games and was only able to get a fisherman in my reservoir twice in all those games. Fishermen are definitely the risk vs. reward element.

I may even push the fisherman worth to 7 points as we test more.

Oh yeah, and a heads up. The rule I see most people forget is creating a new river after an overpopulated river has been completed. Usually they will remember when its a perfect 21 because there is a missing space in the river source row after taking their earned cards but when its 22,23,24 and the river is left in play they forget and want to draw their end of turn cards instead of first adding a new river source to the row.

I made this as a family game, the theme is non combative and there is actually a bit of math and calculation so great for learning.

JewellGames
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Sketches added for a possible

Sketches added for a possible custom deck if more interest is shown.

Also, I will be updating rules so cards orient vertically instead of horizontally. This will allow players to either cascade the cards on top of each other to save room or see spread out the "river" of cards since the fish (pips) already line up nicely in a river formation.

Kroz1776
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Customize a bit!

JewellGames wrote:
Sketches added for a possible custom deck if more interest is shown.

Also, I will be updating rules so cards orient vertically instead of horizontally. This will allow players to either cascade the cards on top of each other to save room or see spread out the "river" of cards since the fish (pips) already line up nicely in a river formation.


I love the idea behind the game. One thing though a lot of times I think to myself, "Why buy this game when I can play it with face cards? There are cards games out there that change the cards enough to make this impossible or just not worth it.

UNO, and Five Crowns, for example, are both different enough that they warrant buying them. Wackie Six can be played with a deck of cards but because of the color coding with the cards, it is a LOT more enjoyable for me to play. Once you have the basic rules down, I'd encourage you to come up with some things that add flavor to the game, and allow the game to become more unique.

For example, you could add in a few cards that are 11 fish but still keep your "Jacks." You could add a fifth suit. Also you could make the different suits be different kinds of fish. Salmon, Trout, Bass, etc...and you could even add in a few cards that are bad fish to get in your stream like Carp or Pike. This adds a bit more flavor to the game, and makes it more unique.

You might be able to tell right now that I just LOVE the concept of your game even though I haven't had a chance to play it yet.

I know your game right now is designed around a 52 card deck, but I think just adding a few different things here and there can't hurt. Tell me what do you think?

JewellGames
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Core version versus custom version

You are right that this initial custom deck wouldn't be much different than a regular deck other than graphics and it would most likely be PnP to start. However, the reason why I haven't added my own new cards or elaborate rules yet is because the core version of this game allows you to playtest it with just the 52 standard cards. This makes it easier for more people to playtest the basic game play and mechanics and make sure those are solid. I want the core of Rivers to be a new standard playing card game like gin rummy, poker, go fish (free) that anyone can enjoy with the standard deck and not have to constantly reference complex rules for a ton of specialty cards.

The "Hungry Bear" variant came as the first insight to possible additions but still uses the Jokers so can it be playtested and enjoyed with the standard cards.

I like your ideas and as mentioned these would only come with new custom cards.

Other possible ideas I have had if I ever expand:
Bald Eagle - Reduce river population by 1
Beaver Dam - Immediately stops (not completes) a flowing river and all river cards are placed in player's reservoir.
Pollutant - Discard a face card (Saboteur) from hand and add this card to a river in a player's reservoir. Polluted river cards are worth 0 points.
Ichthyologist (someone who studies fish) - Place this card on a flowing river. This river can now also be completely populated with 20, if the fish population is 20 or 21 all river cards are earned by the player and put in their reservoir.
3 colors instead of (4 suits and) 2 colors.
And a few more ideas...

But before I add those ideas I need to ensure the core rules, game and mechanics are solid. Still a ways off before I start thinking about new additions and customizing. In the meantime, the more playtesting feedback I get the closer to completing this project we'll be!

JewellGames
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Rule change consideration

Anyone who gets a chance to play this, I am considering changing contested rivers from:

If the river’s fish population is 22, only Jack anglers can be placed there to declare control.
If the river’s fish population is 23, only Queen anglers can be placed there to declare control.
If the river’s fish population is 24, only King anglers can be placed there to declare control.

to:

If the river’s fish population is 22, Jack, Queen, or King anglers can be placed there to declare control.
If the river’s fish population is 23, only Queen and King anglers can be placed there to declare control.
If the river’s fish population is 24, only King anglers can be placed there to declare control.

This opens up the Queen and King face cards to be used at more contested rivers and asserts the King angler as the best angler to have since he can be placed at any contested river. However, this also means that Queens and Kings will be played less often as Fishermen which I do not want to happen.

I liked having all fisherman worth the same points for ease of play but may change them to Jacks worth 6, Queen worth 7, and King worth 8 to maintain the incentive balance.

Just something to consider while you playtest the game. Thanks!

Kroz1776
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Complications

Sounds great! I understand the reasoning behind wanting it to work with a standard 52 card deck for playtesting purposes. I'm just saying, if you made a more advanced version (I say advanced but it's still super simple) I'd buy copies and give some out. I don't really like card games much because of a lack of theme, but this game has to potential to look just gorgeous!

JewellGames
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Playtesters needed

Taking a note from my late buddy Jason I am asking for playtesters. First of all, thank you for taking a look at the game.

I am looking for gamers who would be dedicated to helping polish Rivers through constructive criticism on the game's design, mechanics and fun factor to be posted in this forum thread or via GeekMail. I am very comfortable with criticism and public posts help stimulate other testers' discussion and debate, so GeekMail is only preferred if you feel more comfortable communicating in that way.

a.) How easy was it to read the rules and learn the game?
b.) How easy was it to teach the game?
c.) How easy was it to play through your first game?
d.) Do the card powers and effects make sense?
e.) Did the mechanics integrate with the theme?
f.) Did you use the Jokers?

And:

g.) How many times did you play? How many players?
h.) About how long did each game last?
i.) Is the game fun?
j.) Did you enjoy how the game "felt"?
k.) Did you want to play the game again?
l.) Did you feel that you had a level of control during the game?
m.) Or, did you feel the game was too random?
n.) How does the game work for 2-, 3-, and 4-Players?

And:

o.) Write a general, brief, report on how the game played-out--at least a few of these reports would be nice, preferably not-too-long after the game session so that your memory is fresh. These do not have to be long, just informative and critical. Bullet points are fine; prose is not necessary. Opinions are great, too: did your opponents laugh with glee as they picked your pockets, did they upend the gaming table when you beat them by one point, did they beg to play "one more time"? Or, as facts-are-facts, did your group hate the game and build for it a funeral pyre?

Here are the rules:

1.) Download the Rules PDF and review.
2.) We will test the game, collect feedback, discuss/debate, and tweak/polish the game as necessary.
3.) I will close the testing phase once I feel that the game is as ready as it can be for publication.
4.) Upon publication, testers who were reasonably active with feedback will receive two free copies of the published custom deck.

Any questions?

Kroz1776
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Graphic Design

I don't know if you want to keep the spades, clubs, etc on the cards or if you want to change them, because I thought you could put the fish there, yeah I know they'd be on land, but then you could put them in a net. That way it looks like they were caught and are now being taken away. Neat idea I think but not necessary at all.

P.S. I'm totally in for playtesting.

JewellGames
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Very neat idea! I may just do

Very neat idea! I may just do that with the net if I can incorporate it in such a way that it fits.

Btw, why I have decided to move forward with Rivers as the standard 52 deck;

1) If the graphics are custom but maintain the suits on the sides these can serve as multi purpose cards for other standard card games, particularly "Go Fish". I still think people will prefer a deck with these graphics over plain poker cards especially if these are cheap enough. Also, if I stay with the standard 52 card deck instead of adding new custom cards, the cost to make each deck (and custom tuck box) is <$5 with US manufacturers. If I went for a non playing card template custom deck of X cards it would have to be with an overseas manufacturer which easily raises the cost to over $10 a deck. Not worth it with a limited print run.

2) Without revealing too much, if "Rivers" is successful we are creating a game using the same mechanical principles but with a lot more added content called "Forests" (Two Forests which the adventurer chooses to explore, Dark Forest & Magic Forest). This will have the custom and unique cards. However, this is a project for 2014 after "Rivers" has been completed.

Thank you for the participation!

Kroz1776
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Promo cards?

I see the cost issues with doing a custom deck. I wonder what the costs would be to include the custom cards as an expansion, or even promo cards.

JewellGames
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I will definitely look into

I will definitely look into it to see how feasible a handful of extra cards is.

The GameCrafter sells by the sheet which are 18 cards per sheet. So instead of 54 it would be 72 for the promo but these cost a little more per unit.

Kroz1776
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Not trying to Pushy.

JewellGames wrote:
I will definitely look into it to see how feasible a handful of extra cards is

Yay! I hope you don't think I'm pushy. I'm trust extremely interested in your game and want to help point out other paths you may not have seen, doesn't mean you need to go down them. ;)

Kroz1776
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Let's talk price!

JewellGames wrote:
The GameCrafter sells by the sheet which are 18 cards per sheet. So instead of 54 it would be 72 for the promo but these cost a little more per unit.

How much more would it be?

BTW, I'm excited to hear your forest idea!

JewellGames
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Still working on the rough

Still working on the rough sketches (haven't added the fish pips yet). Do you like the smaller icons or larger icons that will sit over the riverbanks?

Small Icons

Large Icons

limalima
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Interesting game!

This looks like a very cool little game! I will definitely read over the rules and posts above so I could try it out with my wife and daughters.

Luis

JewellGames
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limalima wrote:This looks

limalima wrote:
This looks like a very cool little game! I will definitely read over the rules and posts above so I could try it out with my wife and daughters.

Luis

Thank you!

JewellGames
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Some playtesters informed me

Some playtesters informed me that a bad draw ruined their experience. So I will be taking steps to alleviate unlucky draws and randomness while minimizing additional complex rules.

First off I added a mulligan system known in this game as "watershed". The game rules now state:
"Each player is dealt 5 cards as their hand. A watershed is an area or region drained by a river, river system, or other body of water. Prior to the start of the game, a player may announce they will “watershed” their initial hand and put any undesired cards at the bottom of the deck and redraw until they have a full hand again. This can only be done once per game."

Second, another variant I have thought about adding that can be used as the Jokers or the "Bicycle Advertisement" cards that come in those boxes is (temporary name) The Icthyologist.

The Icthyologist - In this variant each player receives a Joker (or the "Bicycle advertisement" card) as a “The Icthyologist”. Icthyology is the branch of zoology devoted to the study of fish. This card can be played along with a river card, that has 4 or less fish, on any of the player’s turns once per game. Playing the Icthyologist with that river card doubles the fish of that card. Once that flowing river is completely populated the Icthyologist is removed from play. Icthyologists have no effect on contested rivers.

This variant favors the lower numbered cards while the hungry bear favors higher numbered cards. I am looking for a better thematic name for the card however.

Kroz1776
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Lightning Quick!

The first thing I noticed when playing the game was that I didn't know whether playing a fisherman/angler card counted as your turn or if you could play them in addition to fish on a river. We assumed you could only play one or the other and that's how we played.

I found the game easy to play through and exceptionally fast. Our game lasted probably five minutes with just my wife and I. One thing I noticed is that contested rivers are worth a lot of points and because of the way we played, no one wanted to be the person to overpopulate the river due to the fact that if you did, the other player would then claim it with their facecards and then you'd have to play two to take it over. This turned the game into a game of chicken to see who would overpopulate the river first.

Our game ended up with my wife scoring 3 rivers, me with 2, and her with 3 contested rivers. The mechanics and the theme mesh well enough for the game, the custom cards I believe is what will really solidify that theme.

I did have difficulty teaching the game mainly because I was still learning all the rules and had never played it, but the rules seem mostly straight forward.

The biggest random factor was whether you were able to take control of contested rivers because they are the cards that bring in the big points and so the game seems to favor those with facecards more than others.

I feel the game is fun for two players and it is exceptionally fast. Need to wait five minutes for someone or a show to start. Bust out this game and play it for five minutes while waiting. It's a great game for that.

JewellGames
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Correct, one card either a

Correct, one card either a river or face card.

How would you like to see contested rivers changed? Keep in mind that a tie of anglers at a location means no points for that river so that IS a strategy to just tie.

You think if contested river cards were only worth 2 points each that fisherman might again become more attractive?

river cards (non matching colors) 1 point each
river cards (matching colors) 2 points each
contested river cards 2 points each

So with fisherman current worth a King fisherman would equal 4 contested river cards
Jack: 6
Queen: 7
King: 8

Kroz1776
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Sweet

Ok, good to know I was playing it right. I don't know if ties were covered in the rules. They may have been but it never came up in our games.

In our game I actually played more fishermen, but the problem is that when you lay down an angler, it's harder to lose your points than with a fishermen. Say I lay down a fisherman. In a two player game it's easier for me to score my fisherman. In a four player game it becomes much harder to score them because you have to wait through three turns.

One thing you could do is nix the idea of ownership over fishermen and leave that to anglers only. You could make it so that all fishermen on a river are scored when populated. This means no matter who puts the fishermen on, whoever completes the river gets the points for it. This will incentivise all players to complete that river as fast as possible. This also means it's harder for that player to claim the fisherman he originally placed so that doesn't really work either.

The other idea is that when a river is completed, you score your fisherman regardless of who completes the river, but if you complete a river with another player's fisherman, you may immediately place an angler on that river if available. This would encourage people to overpopulate rivers with fishermen on them, score the other players points, but then they get "fishing" rights to the river and place an angler down. I got this idea from an Expansion for Carrcassonne where if you complete a rival player's city, you got tiles and if you got the most you'd get bonus points.

What do you think?

JewellGames
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major rule changes and updates

Some major rule changes and updates

Notable changes:
Scoring of fisherman has completely changed. All fisherman will score some amount of points but more points are scored when you OR your opponent ends that river at 21 rather than 22,23, or 24. Tweaking values may be required but that is an easy fix through playtesting

Instead of populating a river it now "ends/empties" into the river mouth to form a lake. This fits with stacking them in your reservoir and (see below) contested lakes.

Contested rivers now changed to contested lakes.
1) cuts down on space by stacking all cards together.
2) creates further distinction between flowing rivers and contested lakes and what that means for face cards
3) reworded it to "fishing tournament" and "winners" instead of "gain control" to give it more of a competitive feel

Added a note about using tokens as a means to identify card ownership (meeples, coins, wads of paper, etc).

The pictures in the rules still need to be updated to reflect the shift to contested lakes (stacks) which I will be working on over the next few days.

JewellGames
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A lot has changed

A lot has changed since version 1 of Rivers in 2013.

Many of the mechanics have been overhauled and simplified in version 2. The latest rules are here. Check them out and let me know what you think.

My friend is working on custom art for a "Rivers" deck. I have added the images to the OP. I will be adding the game images to the rules in v2.1 once they are finalized.

JewellGames
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Preview

A preview of the numbered card pips.

Click to see full image.

The next version of the rules, hopefully released sometime in the upcoming weeks, will contain the new art.

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