Tag Archive: card game

Sorry for being gone last week and missing Monday.  Following a visit with my sister, most of the Taco-Family came down with the latest plague, so yesterday was pretty much a wash.

Anyway, now that I’m back on the wagon, I’d thought I’d tell you all about this week’s game: Gloom by Atlas Games.


Gloom is an interesting take on card games by combining clear cards with narrative play. The game itself is pretty simple, each player has 5 family members of a dysfunctional family. Each round, a player gets two turns to play cards and then draws up to their hand limit. The goal of the game is to make your family members as unhappy as possible before killing them off. It’s a rather dark-humor game.

The first round of play can be used to kill a family member, but the second is reserved only for playing action or mishap cards. The clear cards allow you to stack mishaps (or indeed boons) on characters which will show through allowing you to easily tally their score. Things get a little more strategic when you begin to disrupt the other players by playing boons on their cards, which increase their happiness and make the character worth less points when they die. The fact that you can only play a killing card (with some exceptions) on the first round really limits your ability to combo on your own characters for high scores, which in turn leads to more complex strategizing. Once one player has completely killed their family, the game ends and points are tallied from all the dead characters.

The narrative side of play comes in with developing stories for all your characters as you play mishaps and boons on them, creating a network of story-telling within any game. I’m not sure if this is written in the rules, but it was brought to the table by my sister, so we went with it. For instance, I had a character who was locked in a basement with mice before being let out into an arboretum to discover she had dendrophobia. She we laid to rest when the mice ate her in her sleep. Yeah, dark-humor game.

It’s a rather enjoyable game, though the big downside I saw with it is that the number of boon cards is really limited, which reduces the effectiveness of trying to disrupt other players. Indeed, as a strategy, I found that killing off my characters as quickly as possible was almost the surest form of victory because only dead characters are counted in the final tally. Indeed, even having only 4 characters with mediocre scores on each easily got me enough points to surpass the two other players who had far more points showing, but no dead characters to count during the tally. I think the game might be improved slightly if the rules were altered to give some point value to living characters. There’s probably some house rules out there for that.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

This week I’ve got the simple drinking game 4-card Golf for you all.  It’s considered a pub-game, so it’s pretty simple, which is good when you have only a little time but want to play something.

4 Card GolfSmall picture, I know.

Anyway, as I said, the game is simple.  You are dealt 4 cards and can only look at 2 of them.  You place all 4 down in front of you in a 2×2 configuration (as shown) and play begins.  On your turn you either draw a card from the face down pile, or the top of the discard pile and use it to replace one of your face-down cards.  You’re never allowed to look at your cards after you’ve placed them on the table, so you have to remember what you have (and hope that the two unseen cards aren’t too good when you replace them).  Instead of drawing, you may knock, which allows all the other players one more play before all the cards are revealed and tallied.

Scoring is face value with aces being 1, and jacks being 11, queens 12, and kings 13 points.  The object (as in golf) is to be the player with the fewest points in their hand at the end of the round.

From there, like any drinking game, the rules for chugging a beer/taking  a shot vary wildly, but are usually some flavor of either winner drink or loser drink.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

Sorry for the delay, folks.  I’m ill again and doing my best to be pathetic, which is taking up most of my time right now.

Anyway, this week’s game is that great, irreverent French revolution game: Guillotine by Wizards of the Coast.


In Guillotine, you and your friends play as competing headsmen who are out to collect the most prestigious heads. The play is very straight forward. There are two decks, fist the noble deck which is used to deal out nobles for the Guillotine line, and the other is the headsmen deck, which consists of action cards that a headsman can use on his/her turn.

The game is layed out with a 5 card hand for each player and a line of 12 nobles leading up to the guillotine. A players turn is simple and quick. First you draw up to 5 action cards, play 1 card (which can do a number of things such as rearrange the guillotine line or prevent a player’s turn), then advance the guillotine line. The first noble in line is beheaded and the head is collected by the player to end their turn. There are 3 rounds, each consisting of a full line of 12 nobles. At the end of round three, the points of all the heads collected by each player are tallied, and the one with the most points wins.

The dark, somewhat silly humor involved keeps the game from being as grim as it sounds. Really, it’s a fun game that quick to learn and can be played in about 15-20 minutes. It’s a nice addition to any game night.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

Monday’s Game #93: PIT

This weeks game is the chaotic commodities bidding game: Pit by Parker Brothers.


Pit was originally released in 1904 and hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. The game is set up by dealing out a number of commodity cards equal to the number of players in a number also equal to the number of players (so if there were three players, then a game would be 3 each of oats, wheat, and sugar). Also dealt into the round is a bear card, which is a wild card and sub for any commodity, and the bull card which prevents winning and counts as a 20 point penalty if it’s in your hand at the end of the round.

Once the cards are dealt and the round begins, it’s all open trading. You can trade any commodity in any matched amount to any player for the same number of cards. For instance, you could trade 4 sugar away, or 2 oats, but not 1 oat and 1 sugar. The bear card must be traded with another card, but is considered “wild” only for the purpose of trading (so you could trade 2 oats and a bear, or even 1 sugar and a bear, but not the bear by itself).

The object of the game is to corner a commodity. Specifically, you are trying to get a full hand of any one commodity equal to the number of players (so, in the game with 3 people, 3 wheat is a winning hand). The winner then scores based on the value of the commodity they cornered. As with many games, this game gets more and more fun as you add people. I played a 10 player game of PIT a few months ago and it was pure, delightful chaos.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

Since it’s been a while since I’ve covered an old game, I decided to dust off the history book this week and bring you Maw (also known as Spoil Five, Mawe, or Maye).

Only a good hand if diamonds are trump.

Maw is a card game that dates back to around the Sixteenth century with roots in Ireland and Scotland.  It was later popularized in the 17th century by King James VI as he favored the game.  More modern variants of Maw include the Irish favorite “Twenty-Five” and the more modern variation “Fourty-Fives” that is popular in Canada.

All you need to play Maw is a standard 52 card deck and two to ten players, but it is best with 5.  In a pot game, each player antes in an even amount of money at the start of the game.  Each player is dealt 5 cards down and the top card of the remaining deck is flipped to determine the trump suit.  The value of cards is determined first by trump, the five of trump being the highest, followed by the jack of trump, Ace of hearts (if it’s not trump), and then the ace of trumps.  After that, all the cards are valued descending from king.  Ace is always low unless trump or ace of hearts.

Next, if anyone was dealt the Ace of Trumps, then they can “rob the pack” which is to swap any card in their hand for the turned-up trumps card.  If the ace of trumps is turned up from the hand, the dealer places a card face down in front of him/her as a down payment on the trump.  After the first trick, the dealer can then take the ace of trumps into his hand and play it in any of the next 4 hands.  From there play continues.

A trick is played by each person, starting with the  player left of the dealer.  A single card is played to the center from the first player, this card determines the suit for the round.  If you can follow suit, you have to play a suit card OR you can can play trump.  If you don’t have a suit card, then you can play whatever you want.  If trump is lead, then you must follow with trump unless the only trump you have is one of the top three (Five, Jack, or Ace of trump) and it is higher than the trump that is lead, in which case you can sacrifice a card to avoid following trump.  For example, if somebody leads with the Ace of trump, and you hold the jack or five but no other trump, you can sacrifice a non-trump card to keep the high trump in your hand.

The trick is taken by the highest suit card or the highest trump played.  The person who takes the trick gets to play the first card of the next trick.  The object of the game is to take exactly three tricks.  If become obvious that you can’t win 3 tricks, then the object becomes to “spoil-five” and make sure nobody takes three tricks.  If a person takes the first three tricks, they have swept the pot and can end play.  They may optionally lead the fourth trick, and attempt to take all five tricks.  If all five tricks are taken by the same player, they “Jink” it and receive both the pot, and a tribute from each player equal to the ante for the pot.

If the hand is spoiled (nobody takes three tricks), then the deck is reshuffled, each player antes in again, and the next hand is dealt.  Play continues in this fashion until somebody wins the pot.

Maw is a great little game to cut your teeth on if you’re not very familiar with card games that involve taking tricks.  It plays quickly and involves enough cards that it allows you to become familiar with the tactics of playing and holding to acquire a desired number of tricks.  Once you’re familiar with Maw, then you could move on to more complex trick games, like Up and Down the River (also called “Oh, Hell!”), which is a personal favorite of mine.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

During our vacation in California, TacoMa’am and I had the opportunity to play Grave Robbers from Outer Space (GROS) with Lyle and her husband.

GROS is a tongue-in-cheek game that mocks all of the horror movie clichés found in b-movies (and indeed clichés that have flowed over into blockbuster horror movies). The play is relatively simple, each player gets 6 face-up cards to start.  Across the bottom of every card is a word pertaining to the horror movie genre.  During this first round, each player has to make a movie title utilizing as many of those words as possible.  These words are used later to determine bonus points.  The deck is reshuffled and each player is then dealt 6 cards into their hand.  Players immediately play their blue character cards and play begins.  At the beginning of each turn you draw your hand up to 6 and then enter your turn.  During the turn you can play additional characters, locations, props, special actions, or use monster cards to assault other players.  The object of the game is to try to get as high of a movie defense value as possible.  This defense value is the sum of the defenses of all your characters, props, and your location (if you have one).

Play continues until either the deck runs out or somebody plays the “Roll the Credits” card.  Once either of those conditions are met, everyone adds up their defense which converts 1:1 for points awarded for the round.  Bonus points are given out if any of your in-play cards or hand-cards match any of the words from your movie.  All the points are tallied up and the next round begins.  Generally you play to a set number, such as 50.

I found I rather enjoyed this simple game.  It’s easy to pick up, plays pretty quickly, and is accessible enough not to be daunting to the new player.  If you get a chance to play it, I say go for it.

The game is produces by Z-Man games and there are many similar move-based card-games produced by them that are all compatible (in case you want to create a super b-movie deck).

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?