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Subject: Beluga Cup rss

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Kenny VenOsdel
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Inspiration struck the other day and I developed rules for a Decktet version of Balloon Cup. I was going to wait a few more test plays to post it but since my wife is liking it so much as is I thought I'd get the collaboration train started.

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Beluga Cup
by Kenny VenOsdel
2-players
Extended Decktet, Suit Chips


You are a beluga whale competing in the annual "Belugas are Best" exotic fish eating competition. Your goal as a competitor is to eat the most fish of the different varieties. At the end of the competition whoever can regurgitate the most fish of a certain type will get to eat their opponents matching regurgitated fish. Whichever whale eats the most regurgitated fish wins the coveted Beluga Cup! Down with Narwhals!

Components: Extended Decktet, Suit Chips (7 of each suit)

Setup:

Place 7 fish (suit chips) for each suit into an opaque bag. Place the Pawns in a face down row of "zones" in the center of the table. Draw fish from the bag to fill each zone. From the dealer's left the zones receive 1, 2, 3, and 4 fish. Shuffle the rest of the Decktet and deal 6 cards to each player. The remaining deck forms the draw pile.

Gameplay:

On a player's turn they must, if able, play a card into a zone on either player's side of the table. The fish in the zone dictate the suit demand for that zone. For example, on zone 3 if there are 2 green fish and 1 yellow fish present, player's must place cards that contain either a wyrm, knot, or both. Each card played contributes all of its suits to the demand. When the number of suits played on a side match the demand, that side of the zone is full. Thus in the previous example when there are cards containing a total of 2 Wyrms and 1 Knot the zone is full. A player may not purposefully go above the suit demand unless the card being played also fulfills another demand.

Example: Zone 3 contains 2 green and 1 yellow fish. You have played The Battle (4WyKn) into a zone satisfying the demand for 1 green and 1 yellow fish. You may not play The Market (6LKn) since the yellow demand is met. You may play The Betrayal (8 WyKn) despite the yellow demand being met as it also satisfies the final green demand.

Exception: Aces have one special ability. As a single turn you may play as many aces into a single zone as you want provided they all match the suit demand. At least one of the aces must have an unfulfilled demand.

Ex: A zone has a yellow, blue, and green fish and you have already met the yellow and blue demand. You may play the yellow, blue, and green aces as a single play since the green was still needed.

If none of your cards match the demand you may first reveal your hand and then discard up to 3 cards. At the end of your turn always draw until you have 6 cards. If the draw pile is empty shuffle the discard pile. Players alternate turns this way until a zone is eaten.

Eating a zone:

When both sides of a zone have met the demand , the fish in that zone are eaten by the player with the largest total rank of cards in that zone. Aces are worth 1 and Crowns are worth 10. Each card is only counted once. If the total is a tie the player who placed the last card in that zone eats the fish. Place the fish in front of the player who ate them and draw new fish from the bag to replace them. Discard the cards on both sides of that zone. Play continues with the player who lost that zone. Thus, a player may take more than one turn in a row by first playing into a zone and losing it, which can be a good way to cycle bad cards out of your hand and get a jump start on a new zone.

End of Game:

When there are not enough fish left to fill a zone the game is over. The remaining fish in the zones are not scored.

Scoring:

Regurgitate the fish you have eaten into piles separated by color. For each color, the player with more fish gains points equal to the amount of similar colored fish that their opponent ate.

Ex: I have 4 green fish and 2 yellow fish and you have 3 green fish and 3 yellow fish. I score 3 points for green and you score 2 points for yellow.

Note: Regurgitating the fish is not mandatory. You may simply place them into piles; though it is highly suggested you at least make regurgitation noises since it greatly adds to the theme of the game.

In case of a tie the whale that ate the most fish overall wins.

Extended Deck
Using the Extended Deck is optional but highly recommended.

The Courts are played like any other card. Their value is equal to 4 times the number of matching fish. Thus each court can be worth either 4, 8, 12, or 16 points for matching 1-4 fish. Each of the suits of the Court can be used to fill a demand.

The Excuse can be played in two ways.
1. If a zone has not been played into by either player you may play The Excuse to adjust the fish available in the zone. Draw fish from the bag equal to the number of fish in the zone and combine them with the available fish. Return as many fish to the bag as you drew, these may be the original fish, the just drawn fish, or a combination. If there aren't enough fish left in the bag draw as many as you can.

2. On your turn you may play the Excuse to pick up a single card from one of your zones back into your hand. Your turn then ends as usual.

For variation you may choose to use the Pawns in the deck and the Courts as the zones.
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There are a few things that I think could use special attention:

1. Courts - The value of the courts may not be right. As it is they can be pretty powerful. The best they could be is played on a zone with 4 suits of one color. This is a value of 16 with only filling one demand. I think it either needs to match the number of fish for its value or have a higher value per match but based on matching suits (a max multiplier of 3).

2. Unfilled zones - Should unfilled zones be scored? I like the idea of not taking all the cubes but perhaps unfilled zones should be awarded. If so I think giving the leading player a single cube from each would be good. This would result in a max of 3 more cubes but being able to take a single cube from 3 or 4 is powerful. Since a large part of the game is having to take the bad with the good this may let you avoid that too easily.

3. End of Game - Rather than #2 I was thinking that after the end game is initiated you would play until one more zone was eaten, or place all cubes possible and play until 2 empty zones. This would make there always be at least 3 cubes stranded with the potential for 7 or 8 to be left.

4. The Excuse - I love the cube adjustment power but it needed something more so I added the card moving ability. In play it has seemed too restrictive and like there isn't often a good time to do that. I was thinking a more useful power would be to return a card from an area to your hand then discarding a single card (forgoing a draw).

Though I'm less certain about it this could potentially be played on your opponent's cards as well which would allow some tricky moves. For example: Say you need 2 Waters and a Wyrm and you have played the 6 MW, The 8WL, and the 7W/Wy in that order. If I make you take back the 8WL you would still be full but your count would be reduced.


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Thanks for looking and for putting up with my ramblings. We only kind of enjoyed Balloon Cup, it was just a tad too simple. So far this game has felt like it captures the essence of Balloon Cup but the dual suited nature of the Decktet has elevated the game play enough to make it feel fresh and interesting.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
Added to the decktet wiki: Beluga Cup
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Joe
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
. . . I just can't deal with how much I like this theme. It might be the late hour making me feel a bit punchy, but I'm just sold on this. App Sauce has their next kickstarter right here.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
jheaney wrote:
. . . I just can't deal with how much I like this theme. It might be the late hour making me feel a bit punchy, but I'm just sold on this. App Sauce has their next kickstarter right here.

Glad you like it!
 
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foksieloy
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
Few suggestions:

Reveal of cards during mulligan should not be optional. Since not seeing the cards is a strategic dissadvantage, there is no reason why you would do it.
If it is a friendly game, then players can house rule it, but otherwise default should be: show the cards.

So the rule should be:
"If none of your cards match the demand you must reveal your hand and then may discard up to 3 cards. At the end of your turn always draw until you have 6 cards in your hand."

Question about scoring: if I get this correctly, if I have 7 fish, and opponent has 6, I score 6 points, but if I have 7 and he has 1 I score 1 point?
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
foksieloy wrote:
Few suggestions:

Reveal of cards during mulligan should not be optional. Since not seeing the cards is a strategic dissadvantage, there is no reason why you would do it.
If it is a friendly game, then players can house rule it, but otherwise default should be: show the cards.

So the rule should be:
"If none of your cards match the demand you must reveal your hand and then may discard up to 3 cards. At the end of your turn always draw until you have 6 cards in your hand."

Yeah, you're probably right.

Quote:


Question about scoring: if I get this correctly, if I have 7 fish, and opponent has 6, I score 6 points, but if I have 7 and he has 1 I score 1 point?

You score each type (color) of fish separately and there are a total of 7 of each fish. So if you have 7 of one fish they would have 0, you score nothing. The best you can do is to have 4 of a color and they have 3, netting you 3 points.

I should also probably add a tie breaker, which should probably just be whoever has more fish total.
 
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P.D. Magnus
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
This looks nifty. Some thoughts...

A I surmise that "the largest sum of cards" means the total of card ranks. If so, do Aces count as one or zero? Do Crowns count ten?

B Given that the Courts and Excuse require separate rules, I suggest writing the core rules for the basic deck. Lots of games play fine with just the basic deck, even if the first draft of the rules includes the extended deck. Add the extended deck rules as a separate section.

C Option 1 for the Excuse seems kind of weak, since you can only play it on a zone where there are no cards. It costs a turn to reconfigure the zone, and then your opponent gets the first chance to play there. I realize that playing it where there are already cards could be a nightmare, because it might make it so that cards there no longer fill any demand. But as it stands I think it may be too many rules for too little value.

X I have some thoughts about how the rules could be clearer, but I'll save them until the rules are more solidified.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
pmagnus wrote:
This looks nifty. Some thoughts...

:WiiA: I surmise that "the largest sum of cards" means the total of card ranks. If so, do Aces count as one or zero? Do Crowns count ten?

Yes. Aces one and Crowns 10. I'll specify that.

Quote:

:WiiB: Given that the Courts and Excuse require separate rules, I suggest writing the core rules for the basic deck. Lots of games play fine with just the basic deck, even if the first draft of the rules includes the extended deck. Add the extended deck rules as a separate section.

Alright. I can move the Aces rules to the normal section and I'll specify an extended section. FWIW the extended deck really does add a lot and I would suggest incorporating it when you play.

Quote:

:WiiC: Option 1 for the Excuse seems kind of weak, since you can only play it on a zone where there are no cards. It costs a turn to reconfigure the zone, and then your opponent gets the first chance to play there. I realize that playing it where there are already cards could be a nightmare, because it might make it so that cards there no longer fill any demand. But as it stands I think it may be too many rules for too little value.

Oddly enough that is the option that is usually chosen. It is actually quite a bit more powerful than it seems. The ability to tailor a zone to your hand and to the chips you want is really really nice. It will take more plays to see if others agree though.

Quote:

:WiiX: I have some thoughts about how the rules could be clearer, but I'll save them until the rules are more solidified.

I look forward to hearing them!
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
STATUS REPORT

I've played 10 games now and it seems to be turning out pretty well. Most of the games have been with my wife and she seems to really like it, one game was with someone new to the Decktet. It seems the 7 fish amount is about perfect. It reduces the likihood of ties and keeps the game to a good length. Due to the scoring structure the scores are low, most have been 5 points to win or less and often it is close at the end.

While there are often opportunities for tactical plays there is still a good degree of luck, maybe more than some would want (including myself at times). The fact that a card can satisfy multiple fish demands allows for interesting choices of where to play higher cards though.

I haven't tried it without the extended deck yet. I can tell that leaving out the Excuse wouldn't really make a difference but I'm hesitant to leave out the Courts. For one thing they make for some surprising and powerful plays. For another it increases the chance that a game could become locked, that is neither player has the cards necessary to fulfill demands. This is probably an edge case but it would stink anyway.

Regarding the extended deck I am still unsure if the Excuse should return a card to your hand and then discard one or move a card to a different slot. I see the benefit and draw backs of both. I will still keep the cube adjusting rule since I really enjoy doing that. As for the Courts they currently are worth 4 per fish they match. This can make them rather weak or really strong. It seems to work well.

One aspect I've enjoyed is that as the game progresses the strategy shifts. Initially it's to try to gain as many fish as you can, then it changes to trying to avoid them. Also nice is the fact that the person who holds the most majorities doesn't always win. I've lost 4-5 to my wife when she only had a majority in 2 suits.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
I've submitted the game to the database.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
12 games into testing and everything seems to be holding up. The basic structure seems fine using 7 fish of each suit and games have seem pretty balanced and close. The Courts value is good at 4 per matching fish. The Ace power is perfect and necessary. The scoring mechanic makes for some tough decisions though occasionally at the end of the game you can see a few turns ahead that you don't have a chance.

The main thing I'm considering adjusting is The Excuse. Right now all we really use it for is to adjust the chips on a card and we really like that. The moving a card is rarely used though since it is so situational. I think the change should be to pick up a card from one of your regions and then discard any card from your hand and end your turn.

An additional question came up today about what to do if you can't play anywhere. The rule is discard up to 3 cards and draw back to 6. The question was should you be able to then play a card after that (as balloon cup rules are written). I think the answer is no and will stay that way. If you can't play you discard and then draw and that's all.
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Re: WIP - Beluga Cup
I played again tonight and it was a fun and close game as usual. I played against a first timer, though he is familiar with the Decktet. I lost in the end but could have won had I seen a better play for me on a different spot. Oddly enough Zone 3 was never claimed once throughout the entire game.

After this play I am convinced of 2 things. 1 - I enjoy this game and think it works very well. 2 - The Excuse needs to pull a card back into your hand rather than move it from spot to spot. This may weaken it in some instances by making it slower, but it strengthens it in others by allowing you to target any of your cards, not just those which could be moved.

EDIT: my previous post suggested discarding a card after using the excuse to reclaim a card to your hand but I don't think that's necessary. I was thinking you'd have 7 cards, but since you played the Excuse you'd end up with 6. So you should simply play the Excuse to the discard pile and then pick up a card.
 
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