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Subject: TWO THREE FOUR - a new classic card game rss

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Koen Hendrix
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Hi all,
I’ve created a classic card game for 3 to 5 players, tentatively called “Two Three Four”. By 'classic' I mean 'in the style of older card games that were played with standard decks'. The game combines elements of Poker and Blitz/31/Scat, in a compact 35-card package with no extra bits required for scorekeeping.

I'd love some feedback on these rules! If you've got two sets of playing cards with identical backs, you can easily create your own deck using those.

Without further ado, here are the rules. They might look a bit long but the game's pretty easy once you're playing it.


Rules download: Two Three Four - Rules and hand rankings (and deckbuilding instructions) PDF


GAME OVERVIEW

The game is played in rounds. During rounds, players improve their three-card hand, until at some point one player places a Bet. The other players may fold or stay in the game, after which hands are compared. Some players will receive penalty points, and then a new round starts. You lose the game when you reach a fixed number of penalty points.



COMPONENTS

Two Three Four is played using a custom 30-card deck, containing numbered and coloured cards:

* Five 2’s: two red and three black.
* Five 3’s: two red and three black.
* Five 4’s: two red and three black.
* Five 5’s: two red and three black.
* Five 6’s: two red and three black.
* Five 8’s: three red and two black.
(There are no 7’s).

Besides the 30-card playing deck, there are five 1-point cards that are only used as penalty point cards.



HAND RANKING

This is why the game is tentatively called Two Three Four



PLAYING A ROUND

(Determine a random dealer for the first round.)
The dealer shuffles the deck and deals each player 3 cards, then starts play by taking the first turn. Turns proceed clockwise.


Playing a turn

A turn always starts with drawing a card:
d10-1 Take a card.
You can either take the top card off the draw pile, or the top card off the face-up discard pile. On the first player’s turn there is no discard pile yet so she has to draw from the draw pile. If the draw pile runs out, players only have the discard pile to draw from.

Then you can either discard, or place the Bet:

d10-2 Discard a card.
Put one card from your hand on the discard pile, face-up. You have 3 cards in hand again. Your turn is over and the player on your left starts their turn.

or

d10-2 Place the Bet.
If you are convinced you have a good hand, you place one card from your hand onto the middle of the table. This card is called the Bet. The Bet card acts as the fourth card for all players, and is also the number of penalty points being played for. You now have 3 cards in hand again.


Once the Bet has been placed

Once the Bet has been placed, all other players get one more turn in normal order. On this last turn, before doing anything else, each player has to decide whether to

A Fold.
This means you quit playing. You’ll get 1 (or possibly more) penalty point.

or

B Play.
If you think your hand is good and want to stay in the game, you take more turn as normal (a draw and a discard). You can’t place a Bet anymore; there is only one Bet per round and once it’s been placed it is unchangeable.


Round Resolution

All players who haven’t folded (including the player who played the Bet) compare their hands. For purposes of comparing their hand, they each have a 4-card hand: the three cards actually in their hand plus the shared Bet card.

* The player with the worst hand gets the Bet as a penalty point card. That card is now out of play, permanently reduced to a penalty point card; it will never return to the play deck. All penalty point cards are kept face-up on the face, in front of the player, clearly visible to everyone.
* The not-worst players (who did not fold) do not get any penalty points.
* Folding players each take a 1-penalty-point ace card (player who folded first takes first, etc). If the ace cards have run out, collect all cards and take (one of) the lowest-numbered one(s). Since there are 5 of each number and all penalty point cards are open, you should know which number to take.

The player who got the Bet becomes the new dealer. She collects and shuffles all cards (except penalty point cards) and starts a new round.

Special cases:

If all players folded, no-one gets the Bet card and it is shuffled back into the deck. The player who played the Bet becomes the new dealer.
If multiple people are tied for worst hand, resolve ties like poker: First compare the highest cards within the hand (e.g. highest red or highest in sequence). If they’re all tied too, compare the highest card outside the hand (the ‘Kicker’). If the hands are identical, there is no loser and the Bet card goes back into the deck, with the player who played the Bet becoming the new dealer.



END OF THE GAME

You lose the game when you reach a fixed number of penalty points:
. . 3 players: 17 points
. . 4 players: 14 points
. . 5 players: 11 points

Normal (elimination) ending: Once a player loses, that player is out of the game. The other players continue playing rounds, until only two players are left. Of the two remaining players, the one with the fewest penalty cards (rather than points) wins. If that’s a tie, the player with the fewest penalty points wins.

Pub-style ending: Once one player loses, the game is over. The loser pays for drinks, or similar. (There is no real winner, although you could compare penalty cards or points.)


All questions and comments very welcome! --Koen
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Bruce Nettleton
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some interesting ideas, here. The rules need to specify what makes a winning hand and losing hand.

Are there only two suits? do suits even matter?

Why no sevens?
 
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Koen Hendrix
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D'oh!
The hand rankings must've gotten lost when I copied stuff over form my design doc. They're in there now.

Quote:
HAND RANKING

This is why the game is tentatively called Two Three Four. From worst to best:
* (nothing / high card)
* 2 reds
* 2 of a kind (pair)
* 3 in a row (e.g. 2,3,4. Note that the 8 can never be part of a sequence.)
* 3 reds
* 3 of a kind
* 4 in a row
* 4 reds
* 4 of a kind

There are indeed only two 'suits'/colours. The red colour is used in the hands, as you can see in the ranking above.

To answer your second question, there are no sevens mainly to keep the hands in this easy-to-memorize 2-3-4 order.

If I'd used 6 consecutive numbers like 2-3-4-5-6-7, "4 in a row" would be easier to get than "3 of a kind". By using numbers 2-3-4-5-6-8 instead, it becomes harder to create sequences (e.g. 3-4-5) but it does not get harder to create sets (like 5-5-5). So having 8s instead of 7s gives the hand ranking its 2-3-4 structure, really.

Hope that makes sense.
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Bruce Nettleton
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Yes. Makes sense now.

I like how the penalty card becomes a part of everybody's hand for the current round and then is unavailable for the rest of the game. Also like how the fold penalties escalate during the course of the game depending on what cards are available.

You may need a rule to govern whether the cards taken for fold penalties are black or red, as this will change the hands available for later rounds.

 
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Koen Hendrix
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pastorbln wrote:
You may need a rule to govern whether the cards taken for fold penalties are black or red, as this will change the hands available for later rounds.

Yes I thought of that. Taking a black or a red changes the probabilities of the "X red" hands in different directions.

But, in the end, this change is the same for all players, gives no one any advantage, and the information (whether a red or black was taken) is open to all players. So I thought it best to keep the penalty-card-taking rule as simple as possible.
 
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Andrzej Człapiński
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khendrix wrote:
All questions and comments very welcome! --Koen


What to do when there is no card to draw in draw pile? I think this could happen with more players or with "to high" limit of penalty points.

Game seems nice. I will try it when I will have 3rd player available.
 
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Koen Hendrix
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It's underneath Take a card:

"If the draw pile runs out, players only have the discard pile to draw from."

Basically, you options get very limited, and someone will place a Bet soon enough.
 
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Andrzej Człapiński
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khendrix wrote:
It's underneath Take a card:

"If the draw pile runs out, players only have the discard pile to draw from."

Basically, you options get very limited, and someone will place a Bet soon enough.


blush reading comprehension: 0 points

What's the optimum limit for penalty points in your opinion?
 
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Koen Hendrix
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andrewcz wrote:
What's the optimum limit for penalty points in your opinion?

blush Rules-completeness: 0 points

I'm thinking something like
. . 3 players: 17 points
. . 4 players: 14 points
. . 5 players: 11 points

Edit: Added that to the OP now.
 
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Jason Kotzur-Yang
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Hi Koen,

It'd be great to have this all together in an easily printable form. Don't always take the forums around with me.
 
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Koen Hendrix
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kotzuryang wrote:
It'd be great to have this all together in an easily printable form. Don't always take the forums around with me.
You don't?? I always print the entire game design forum every morning so I can do some serious surfing on the train.

One PDF, coming up.
 
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Koen Hendrix
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Here you go!

Complete rules and hand rankings (and deckbuilding instructions) PDF
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Phil Bordelon

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My boring suggestion is to change the 'odd card out' from 8s to Jacks, Queens, or Kings. It's mildly distracting to have the cards available be mostly in sequence, except for that 8, but if you have one face-type and the rest numeric-type it's much less confusing.

The 8/face has a different value distribution as well; all the more reason to distance it from the numbers.
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Koen Hendrix
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Not a bad idea Phil, I can imagine the lack of 7s being confusing.

But for penalty point scoring purposes, that Queen/King/whatever would still have to have a point value of 8. So visually there would still need to be an 8 on the card...

Maybe I could have a Condottiere-like distribution? That game uses a bigger gap: 2-3-4-5-6-10. Would that be less confusing?
 
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John Breckenridge
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Maybe the easy answer is to call the game "Two Three Four no Seven."
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Koen Hendrix
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Haha, nice idea John! although in my mind Two Three Four actually refers to the hand/set sizes, rather than the numbers on the cards... oh well, the name is placeholder anyway. meeple

In my latest prototype I'm actually scaling the numbers up a bit. Generally everything goes up by 1, so the 1-point cards are now 2-point cards, and the normal 2-3-4-5-6 are now numbered 3-4-5-6-7. (This was done to make folding relatively more expensive.)

The top cards are now marked 'X', much like Phil's suggestion, to emphasise they're not sequenceable with the numbered cards. They're worth 10 points now.
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