Thursday, July 11, 2013
The game is currently titled Soldier, Merchant, Priest. It is a quick, light, vaguely medieval-to-renaissance themed card game using a non-standard deck. It contains elements of bluffing, betting and trick-taking. I think the game actually works, but as you can imagine it is difficult to evaluate a game like this on my own. I can't bluff myself.
If anyone would be interested in testing this game out, I'm perfectly willing to make a set for you and mail it to you. (It's literally just me scribbling some notations on index cards, though, so don't expect anything fancy.)
You can read the rules here or download them here. I'll very briefly describe the game as follows.
The deck consists of four suits—soldiers, merchants, priests and nobles. The merchants and priests have number values. The soldiers are all identical. The nobles are each unique. The players take turns laying cards down in front of them one at a time, and eventually one may decide to "call" either merchants, priests or soldiers. The other players must then call a suit in turn. By calling a suit, the player is declaring how he intends his score for the round to be calculated—in either a merchant-centric way, a priest-centric way or a soldier-centric way. Then, they can continue laying down cards one at a time. Eventually, everyone will pass, and once they have, whoever has the highest score in the cards they laid down wins the round. An interesting bit is this: If you win having called Merchants, then you get no points, but your hand size is increased by one in all future rounds. This is important not only because it adds flexibility to your play in future rounds, but because the cards you keep in your hand each round score points for you as well. Each card laid down, then, is a kind of bet—and having more cards in your hand each round gives you more to bet with.
The noble cards, meanwhile, allow the players to change the rules of the game for a round. For example, laying down the "Smuggler" card changes the rule for counting score so that players are now encouraged to play a lot of low value merchant cards instead of a few high value merchant cards. The "General" card, as another example, allows you to use soldier cards as a substitute for cards of a different suit.
A round goes pretty fast—I'm sure less than two minutes a round in general. The game, then, is a pretty quick fast paced one.
If you are interested, contact me and I'll send you a set! Get some friends together and try it out. I believe it plays well even with just two players, but I'm interested to hear whether you think so as well. Probably the maximum that should play the game right now is four, chiefly due to the size of the deck. (Forty cards.)
I'll also send you a questionnaire, which will include a "free response" section as well as some more specific questions about replayability, the existence of a dominant strategy, the clarity of the rules, and so forth.