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Quick 4-Player Card Game

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werhner
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Joined: 01/30/2012

I just played a game called "Spot It" with some friends and their small children, and one of the variations of the rules inspired this card game, played with an ordinary deck of cards and four players. Please read the rules below with an eye out for unclear rules/concepts, ways to increase/improve players' decisions, and just overall appeal/fun quotient. I appreciate any comments, and I have to caveat that I haven't had a chance to playtest this yet;

---Begin Rules---

Object:
Be the person with the least number of points in the "Wrong Suit" selected at the end of the game.

Setup:
Take the aces out of an ordinary deck of 52 cards, leaving 2-K in all 4 suits. Shuffle these 48 cards and deal them out evenly to all four players. Each person should have 12 random cards in their Hand. Finally, shuffle the 4 Aces and leave them face down.

Gameplay:
The game consists of 12 rounds of play in which each player simultaneously gives exactly one card to either himself or one of the other 3 players, facedown. Only the giver and the recipient may see the card. Any player may receive any number of cards. Cards given to a player remain in their Stack facedown in front of that player, and cannot be given back out once received. A player may look at his stack at any point, but the cards' values must remain unseen by other players.

After the 12th round, the game is over, and one of the Aces should be flipped over. The suit of that Ace determines the "Wrong Suit". Each player should add up the numerical value of all the cards in the Wrong Suit and apply any bonuses or penalties (explained below). Lowest score in the Wrong Suit wins.

Card Values:
Each normal card is worth the number on its face. A Jack is worth MINUS 10 points if it is the same color as the Wrong Suit, and 10 points if it is the opposite color of the Wrong Suit. A Queen is worth 10 points, and upon giving one, you must pick a suit; the receiving player must give you his lowest valued card in that suit. Finally, a King is worth 20 points, and once given must be left face up for all players to see; no other cards of that suit can be given to that player for the rest of the game.

Bonuses:
-If you receive 40 or more points in one suit, you receive MINUS 30 points. For example, if you receive 45 points worth of Hearts, and Spades is the Wrong Suit, you receive a bonus of MINUS 30 points to your Spades point total.
-Any 4-of-a-kinds that you receive become worth 0 points each regardless of Wrong Suit, and you receive MINUS points equal to the value of the 4-of-a-kind. For example, if you collect all four 10's and otherwise had 24 points in the Wrong Suit, you end the game with 14 points.
-Gain MINUS 1 point if you've received 13 cards at the end of the game. For each card past 13, gain MINUS 1 additional Point. For example, if you end the game with 15 cards in your Stack, you receive a bonus of MINUS 7 points (3+2+1)

---End of Rules---

Strategy:
You win the game by making sure other players have more points than you in the Wrong Suit; however, you don't know the Wrong Suit and so really have to spread the suits to all players. Between each round, I envision lots of conversation (like the various forms of Mafia/Werewolves of Miller's Hollow/etc) arguing about who should give what cards to which players. There is no verification about who has what cards, and with the 4-of-a-kind Bonus and the 40-point Bonus, it becomes risky to stick with the basic strategy (give equal amounts of high point cards in all suits to all other players). I think the risk of 1 player getting ganged up on is low because of the bonuses. The fun (in my mind, anyway) comes from the tension between trying to distribute high points cards evenly, screwing your neighbor who just gave you a high point card, and trying to decipher another player's words and actions to determine how they are doing point-wise.

Possible Rule Modifications:
-I'd like to increase the non-normal card powers, but I am stumped on other possible card 'powers'. One possibility might be allowing a player to look at one of the Aces and then discard it, effectively giving him an advantage. Another might be a card that forces
-I'm also toying with the idea of having all the players show their Stack after a certain number of rounds, giving them a chance to change or update their strategies, as well as update/shift alliances between players. Maybe after the 6th or 8th round?
-Would it increase the tension if some cards (in addition to the King) were face-up cards? Maybe the odd normal cards? You'd have some information about how other players are doing, but would still be potentially way off since the remaining facedown cards could be huge 10-point cards (Jacks, Queens or 10s), or a couple lowly 2s or 4s, and you would be in the dark regarding suit distribution.

So, sound like fun at all?

-Werhner

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