Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Four New Decktet Games

Here are four more games for the Decktet.

I should add these to the Decktet Wiki but I'm currently too lazy to learn how. (UPDATE: That is done now.)

Two of these games use the term "meld". A meld is a set of cards fulfilling one of the following conditions:
  • contains exactly one instance of each of the six suits (a suit-meld)
  • a set of three or more cards of the same rank (a kind-meld)
  • a set of three or more cards of consecutive ranks that all share a single suit (a run-meld)
Note that Aces and Crowns are not considered consecutive: the counting does not "wrap around".

Circle Search
a Decktet memory game for two children, by David Van Slyke.

Separate the aces and place them face up in the middle of the table. Shuffle the rest of the deck (either basic or extended) and deal out eight cards face-down in a square (a 3 by 3 grid with the middle card missing). Place two tokens on opposite corners of the square, one for each player.

Each Turn
On your turn, declare "I am searching for..." and name the suit from one of the unclaimed aces. Then move your token one card clockwise and turn over the card your token lands on, revealing it for everyone to see. If that card has the suit you were searching for, claim the ace of that suit--unless it was a Crown, which causes you to put back in the middle of the table the claimed ace of the Crown's suit if you have currently claimed it. The excuse does nothing when one of the face-down cards.

The younger player goes first, unless the game was just played and someone one, in which case the previous game's loser goes first. Players take turns until all six aces are claimed. The player who claims the most aces wins. If both players claim three aces the game is a draw.

To play with more than two players make the path of face-down cards larger (always a rectangle with four times as many cards as players) and keep starting positions equally spaced apart. To make the excuse meaningful, the first player to reveal it keeps it as a "tie-breaker" and replaces it with a new face-down card that is first revealed to all players. For children who enjoy counting more than balance, use the remaining cards as a "draw pile" that determines movement around the circle by card rank.

Note: Feel free to add a plot to the game, such as exploring a haunted house or a beach (in which, respectively, the Crowns could be ghosts or crabs that surprise you so you drop a treasure when running away).

Head Solitaire
a Decktet solitaire game that does not require a playing surface, by David Van Slyke

Shuffle a basic (not extended) Decktet and hold it in one hand face-down as a draw pile.

Note: You will soon be holding four piles, one upon another, in one hand. On top is a face-up hand of six cards. Behind it is the draw pile. Behind that, face-up and rotated ninety degrees, is the archive of melds. Behind that is the discard pile.

Each Turn, Part One
Turn over six cards and hold them face-up on top as your hand. If this group of six cards contains a meld, place the meld face-up and rotated nintety degrees directly behind the draw pile; then draw more cards to refill your hand to six cards. If the six cards contain no melds then re-order them as you desire and discard them face-up at the back of all the cards you are holding; then draw six more cards as your new hand.

After exhausting the initial draw pile, the discard pile becomes the new draw pile. It stays face-up. Move it from behind the archive of melds to in front of the archive of melds. If you have a partial hand of cards then your hand is refilled to six cards from the top of this new draw pile. If you had no cards in your hand at this time you have the option of immediately discarding the top card of the new draw pile before drawing a hand of six cards.

Each Turn, Part Two
Go through the second draw pile as before but do not worry about sorting the cards you discard.

The game is over after you go through the second discard pile. Count the number of cards not in melds (in your third discard pile). This is your score: the lower the better. Keep track of your lowest score for the week.

If the extended Decktet is used then the Excuse counts as any single suit or rank and the Pawns have three suits but no rank.

Note: A "head solitaire" is a kind of solitaire that requires no playing surface. Many were popular during the era of British sailing merchant ships.

Old Janx Spirit
a Decktet rummy game for two people, by David Van Slyke

"Oh won't you play one more game of that Old Janx Spirit,
Oh won't you play one more game of that Old Janx Spirit,
For my luck will show, my melds will go, my victory you'll know, and I will crow,
So don't you play me one more game of that sinful Old Janx Spirit"

Note: This game has more luck in the initial deal than traditional Gin Rummy, which is why "knocking" is not allowed and scoring is based only on who can "go out" first.

Shuffle a basic (not extended) Decktet and deal ten cards to each player. The remaining cards, face-down, become the draw pile.

Each Turn
Draw one card and discard one card. On the first turn the draw must happen from the draw pile. On subsequent turns the draw can happen from the top of either the draw pile or the discard pile.

Take turns until, after discarding, all ten cards in your hand are part of melds. Lay down the melds face-down to flaunt your victory. The player who does this scores one point; play again.

Note: There are many different types of winning hands. Here are a few examples:
(i) Two three-card suit-melds in which each card has two suits, and a kind-meld of four aces.
(ii) A four-card suit-meld consisting of two Threes and two aces, and a run-meld of six cards all having Knots
(iii) A single ten-card run-meld in which all cards have Waves

If the extended Decktet is used then the Excuse counts as any single suit or rank and the Pawns have three suits but no rank.

a Decktet game for two players and using a cribbage board, by David Van Slyke.

Randomly determine who is the dealer the first round; on subsequent rounds alternate who is the dealer. The dealer shuffles an extended Decktet and deals out six cards to each player. Then each player selects two cards to contribute to a set of four cards belonging to the dealer named the "crib". Finally, the non-dealer cuts the remainder of the deck; the dealer completes the cut and turns over the top card.

Suit Casing
The non-dealer starts making the first "suit attempt". A suit attempt is when players alternate setting cards face-up in front of them but cannot use a suit twice and thus may need to say "pass". If your opponent passes but you can play additional cards into that suit attempt you must do so. As cards are played scoring events happen (see below). A special bonus of 1 point is given to the last player able to play in each suit attempt; the other player initiates the next suit attempt.

Note: Unlike traditional Cribbage, once the suit attempt's sum passes 11 there is no reason to keep track of the sum.

Note: Like traditional Cribbage, consider consecutive cards played when looking for runs, pairs, and of-a-kinds. If you have a pair in your hand these will probably not be consecutive (unless your opponent passes so you can and do play the second directly after the first) and thus probably not scored until the next phase of "Cleaning Hands".

Note: Like traditional Cribbage, there is a clean slate at the start of each suit attempt regarding pairs and runs.

Cleaning Hands
Both players pick up their hand of four cards and use it for a second rendition of scoring events (see below). The top card on the deck also counts for each hand, so these are really hands of five cards. The non-dealer evaluates his or her hand first. Then the dealer evaluates his or her hand, and then the crib.

Scoring Events
When scoring the Excuse has a rank of zero and no suit (useful with scoring events of sums of 11) and Pawns have no rank but three suits (irrelevant to runs and sums of 11 but valid for pairs and of-a-kinds). The following events score points:
(a) sum of 11 (1 point)
(b) pairs (2 points) -- so counting the combinations we also get: 3-of-a-kind is 6 points, 4-of-a-kind is 12 points, and 5-of-a-kind is 20 points
(c) runs of three or more cards (# of cards)
(d) a complete suit-meld containing all six suits (6 points)

Note: As with traditional Cribbage, all combinations of scoring events are considered. Thus a hand of cards containing a 4, a 5, and all three 6's is worth a total of at least 24 points as follows:
(a) 3 points for sums of 11 (the 5 with each 6)
(b) 6 points for 3-of-a-kind (the three 6's)
(c) 9 points for three three-card runs (4, 5, and each 6)
(d) 6 points for a complete meld (the three 6's) [and depending upon the 4 and 5 more complete melds may be possible]

Play rounds of dealing, suit casing, and cleaning hands until a player reaches or passes 121 points to immediately win. Use a Cribbage board to keep score.

Note: Because the game is significantly influenced by luck, traditional Cribbage also uses meta-scoring. A player is skunked if at 61 to 90 points when the opponent wins, and double skunked if at 60 points or less. Continuing this tradition is optional but can be fun. If used by family members try agreeing before playing who, if first skunked, will have to do a certain household chore or owe the opponent a foot rub.

It is suggested to allow "muggins" in which a player scores any points overlooked by his or her opponent. If you use muggins then also including the following random events as 2-point scoring events for the dealer keeps players alert: "Sky High" (top card on the deck is the Excuse), "So Low" (top card on the deck is a Pawn), and "Royal Clique" (top card on the deck both last round and this round is a Crown).

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