Skip to Content

Cribbage-inspired “Handbuilder” idea

1 reply [Last post]
Squinshee's picture
Joined: 10/17/2012

I like some of the concepts in Cribbage, but I’ve always wanted to fix how linear and luck-based it is. I come back to this idea every so often, brainstorming ideas that keeps the central concept of Cribbage: crafting a high-value hand that’s also viable for pegging. After probably years of mulling this over, I’ve come up with a basic structure that sounds quite appealing. I’m going to try to describe my concept as clearly below (so far I’ve only come up with a 2 player version).

Each player picks a character to play as. Each character has a starting hand of 6 cards, as well as a small deck of cards that can be purchased to replace a card in your hand at the end of each turn. So players try to build new, better hands as they play - not a deckbuilder, a handbuilder(!). When you replace a card in your hand, your opponent doesn’t know what you’ve added.

There are three small decks, one that features cards labeled with numbers 4 through 6, another small deck that features cards labeled with numbers 6 through 8, and a last deck that features cards labeled with numbers 9 through 11. At the start of each turn, flip over one card from each deck. Let’s call these “Crib Cards” for clarity. Not only do these cards have numbers, they also have little effects on them, like gaining money to purchase cards, gaining VPs, or game altering abilities. Each turn, players will compete to collect these cards with the cards in their hand.

Each turn, initiative changes between each player. The player with initiative plays a card from their hand first. Cards in hand feature numbers on them, probably most frequently numbers 1 through 3 (as well as a plethora of abilities). Then the other players plays a card from their hand, and that card’s number adds to the previous player's number. So if player one plays a 1, and player two plays a 3, the total would be 4. If there is a Crib Card with the number 4, player two would gain the rewards of that Crib Card. This process continues until both players have played four cards each.

Once that occurs, the player with initiative may decide to play a fifth card. If that player does, that players becomes prone next turn. When a player is prone, and after the turn’s Crib Cards are revealed, some feature a prone ability, which are bad. The opposing player chooses one prone ability to occur. (This makes going prone a risky proposition - you could obtain a Crib Card that turn, but at what cost next turn? Classic risk/reward)

After players are done playing cards, all cards players didn’t play during their turn are “stashed.” Stashed cards provide a number of money to purchase new cards for your hand to replace current cards. Cards in your stash have the potential to synergize with one another to make players more currency.

This is a central dynamic - “Do I play this card during the turn, or not to obtain money to purchase new, better cards?” Since players don’t stash at the start of their turn, this choice organically unfolds during gameplay.

This repeats until one player has acquired the requisite number of VPs to win.

How does this concept sound? I’m a little worried about design space at the moment, but I like how simple it is.

Thanks guys!

Squinshee's picture
Joined: 10/17/2012
Still mulling this concept

Still mulling this concept over, and I had these stray thoughts:

• Increase hand size to 8, make players shuffle those cards and draw 6 per turn. This would allow your opponent to see what cards you've purchased, like in other deckbuilders, but still adds randomness to what's in your hand, forcing players to adapt.

• The "Crib Card" concept is too rigid. Playing numbers and only numbers isn't dynamic enough. I've been thinking of ways to make it more interesting, less linear, such as:

- adding strength values to each card in hand, and all card's strength values accumulate over the turn for each player. When a player "lands" on a Crib Card, there's a mini "struggle" where the player with more strength has advantage or something. (what that struggle looks like, I have no idea - could even be a simultaneous reveal type thing)
- adding suits to hand cards. Matching suits and numbers with your opponent's cards may net you rewards, and adds a nice element of playing off of your opponents moves. Suits could also then play into "stashing" synergies for more money to buy cards
- maybe only having one Crib Card per turn, with certain conditions that occur when players either don't reach or exceed the Crib Card's number (, so this would incentivize different strategies, such as players prioritizing NOT getting the Crib Card)

If any of you guys are following any of what I'm saying (lol) and have some ideas, I'd love to hear them. Game mechanics sure are tricky.


Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut