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WIP: Trick-taking card game. Need help with a theme.

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: 04/18/2013

I have been working on a trick-taking card game with similar mechanics to a card game called Jabberwocky.

The game will take place over a set number of rounds. The players hand size increases by one every round to the halfway point of the set number of rounds. After, the players hand size decreases back down. Each round consists of:

1) Cards dealt;

2) Trump revealed;

3) Players bid on the number of tricks they think they'll win. The number of total bids from all players cannot be equal to the number of cards in hand (kind of a screw the dealer mechanic);

4) Player to the left of dealer starts the first trick of the hand. The other players must follow suit, or they can play trump to win the trick, or play another card. The highest card of the led suit wins, or the highest trump wins the trick.
4a) After trick is complete the winning player collects one resource based on the led suit, plus a bonus if the trick was won with trump.
4b) The play continues the same way until all tricks are complete for the round.

5) Players check their tricks won with their bid. If they got the exact number, they collect 1 of each resource. If tricks won is higher or lower than their bid, they have to give up resources for the number over or under their bid to the player to the right.

6) Resources can be used to purchase Victory Point cards. There are 5 Victory Point cards laying face up on the table. There will be a stack of Victory Point cards to replace the purchased ones. Each VP card has a different number of resources required to use to purchase it. They also have different points, more resources required the higher the points.

Play continues in this manner until all the rounds are complete. I know there is still work to do but I just wanted to provided the gist of the game.

What I'm struggling with is theme. I thought about players being competitive detectives looking to impress the Chief and solve the most crimes. They all sit down and bid on intel, evidence and witnesses to use to solve crimes.

I'm not sold on the theme and would appreciate any ideas of theme, and even mechanics. Thanks for your help!

Joined: 08/27/2012

The first thing I thought about when I read your post was that the resources seemed a bit like ingredients. So how about some sort of cooking or baking theme? The players are apprentice chefs seeking to gather the ingredients necessary to create exciting new dishes to present to the head chef. Each victory point card represents a meal that they could prepare if only they could gather the ingredients. The apprentices try to scrounge ingredients from the kitchen by getting put in charge of cooking certain meals (winning a trick). If they judge their ingredient resources correctly during a week, the head chef rewards them with the ingredient of their choice (the bonus for making your bid). You could make the resource passing go only to players who made their bids to make this more interesting, perhaps creating a pool and splitting it evenly, with leftovers holding over to the next round.

Some other thoughts:
1) Is there an order to purchasing victory point cards? I can certainly see gathering 2 resources to buy a cheap vp card and then having it taken by someone earlier in turn order and having any new cards that come up (if you refill immediately) be ones I can't afford.
2) Are you interested in making any end game bonuses? For example, one for the person who makes the most dishes (most vp cards purchased is worth an extra X points) or for the person who presents the greatest variety of dishes (using all the different resources mostly in balance).

Obtaining resources based on the cards played is certainly interesting, it makes winning a trick with specific cards more interesting.
Good luck!

Joined: 04/08/2012
How about these themes?

1) Animal auction? 2) estates auction?

Joined: 04/18/2013
Great ideas

Robinson, thanks for the theme idea it does seem to fit well with ingredients and meals. I hadn't thought of that. I don't want to use a standard deck of cards, so I guess the trick taking cards could be represented by the quality of food (ex. Junk food = 1 to Lobster = 10?)

As for your questions:
1) The order for purchasing VP would be the same that the round order was in. I will have to look at adjusting the number of rounds depending on the number of players, so 1st choice is equal among all the players. And yes the cards would be refilled immediately.

2) I hadn't thought about end game bonuses but that is a great idea.

Thanks for taking the time to reply!

JackBurton's picture
Joined: 04/16/2013
Well, the first coming to my

Well, the first coming to my mind when I read your post was: a card game (like Uno)!
But we are designers, so here's my ideas for your game:

- Horse race: each player owns a stable and each played card represents a horse in a race. I think this way you can leave the "card game" type and add some variations, like a bonus (other cards or in limited number per player) which could give a sprint to your horse (drug?) and add 1,2,... to card value.

- Gladiators arena: each players represents a house with its own gladiators (like house of Batiatus in Spartacus). Cards represent gladiators and their strength

kpres's picture
Joined: 04/20/2013
Aw Hell

I've played this game before (or something similar). It's called Aw Hell.

Personally, I don't think it needs a theme. If you want, you can make a customized deck of cards, but I would recommend against changing the numbers from a standard deck. Part of what makes the game so accessible is that everybody knows what's in a standard deck of cards.

You could give it any theme. The only idea I can think of for a theme is stock brokering.

Joined: 04/18/2013
Thanks for the reply! Yes,

Thanks for the reply! Yes, you are right the game is similar to Aw Hell. My goal was to change the point collection aspect of the game. The ideas are still mulling around in my head and on paper. I'm looking at using the "points" to purchase "items" that will provide extra end game points as well as in game boosts, hence the idea of having a theme.

I do agree with you about the numbers of a standard deck and familiarity with everyone. I'll take it into consideration, and likely not change the card value too much.

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