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Subject: Any good ideas for games with Top Trumps cards? rss

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Ollie Read
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Top Trumps cards are great. You can get packs with almost any theme imaginable and most people own a pack or two. The problem is, the game itself is abysmal. I played it with a 5 year old once and even she got bored.

So I've been looking for any advanced games that can be played with the cards. Top Trump Squads sounds okay: http://www.xorph.com/dispatch/wiki/index.php?title=Top_Trump...

Please post any ideas anyone has for games. Don't feel that you have to use the original mechanic where a category is picked and the highest statistic wins. Be as original as possible and use specific packs if you like.

There must be a good way of having characters fight against each other using different stats in an RPG sort of way.

Come to think of it, who the hell is going to be looking up Top Trumps on BGG? laugh
 
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Tuomas Korppi
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Just some quick ideas... Haven't tested any of these.

(1) Approx. 4 players. All cards are dealt so that everyone gets an equal number of cards. Players look at their cards like in Great Dalmuti or poker, and unlike in the original Top Trumps. The player to the dealer's left starts by playing a card and naming a stat that is played. Each player, in turn, must either pass or play a card that has the named stat higher or equal. When all players except for one have passed, the player who played the last card plays an arbitrary card and names a new stat to be beaten. The winner is the player who gets rid of all his cards first.

(2) Some kind of board game for two, where the cards are used as playing pieces, and they can be moved one square or so each turn. Each square on the board has a name of a stat, and if two cards arrive at the same square, the one with the stat of the square lower is captured. To recognize the player owing a card use the orientation of the card (shogi style). Of course, it is also possible use the cards face down, so you get a stratego-style game.

(3) Some kind of Cosmic Encounter clone, except that you use the Top Trumps cards as attack cards. The attacker may choose the stat, or that each planet has a designated stat that is used, or that each planet has stat of strength so that it the attacker chooses it, the defender gets a bonus.

(4) Three players, all cards are dealt into four equal piles. The dealer is the attacker and the other players are defenders. Each player takes one pile as hand cards (a player looks at his hand cards, like in bridge or poker, and unlike in the original top trumps), and the cards in the one extra pile are placed face up between the defenders (like the dummy in bridge). The defenders form a partnership, and the face-up hand (dummy) is regarded as the attacker's partner, and the attacker decides which card to play from it. The dummy plays as if it were a fourth player placed between the defenders. The player left to the attacker starts the first trick by playing a card and naming a stat. Then, everyone of the other players (including the dummy) plays one card from his hand into the trick face-up. (First the player to the trick-starter's left, then the player to his left, and so on until everyone has played a card.) If a player has a card that has the named stat higher than in any card in the trick so far, the player must play such a card. Otherwise, the player can play any card. The trick is won by the highest card of the named stat. The winner of the trick names a new stat and starts a new trick.

After all the cards have been played, each player gets a point for each trick their team won. In the next deal the role of the attacker rotates to the player in the previous attacker's left. The winner is the player with most points after a pre-determined number of deals.
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Tuomas Korppi
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In the game (4), before the first trick is started, the attacker announces a stat that is used as a tie-breaker throughout the deal in case there are equal winning cards in the trick. Maybe, a secondary tie-breaker stat, too (in case that the primary tie-breakers are also equal).
 
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Ollie Read
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Some really good simple ideas there, Tuomas. Better than anything I've come up with.

I like (2) but it's so simple I should have thought of it! You could use stands like in LOTR: The Confrontation to hold the cards so that you can only see your own and play on a chess board. When the pieces meet, the attacker could pick a stat. That would be cool with any deck of character cards.
 
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Tuomas Korppi
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I was playtesting my (4) by playing with myself with the Narnia deck. I think that makes the game Narnian Whist:-) Anyway, I simplified the tie-breaker condition so that there are no specific tie-breaker attributes, but the trick is won by the last-played card of those having the equal winning value. Because of that, also the rule of beating high card becomes "If a player has a card that has the named stat higher or equal than in the highest card in the trick so far, the player must play such a card. Otherwise, the player can play any card." I also played so that the dummy was exposed before the opening lead (unlike in Bridge). The deck consists of 30 cards, so I dealt 9 cards for the attacker and 7 cards for everyone else. The attacker discarded two cards before the play began. N/A was regarded as a lowest value in any category (lower than 0.)

Then, some observations from the play. First, the deck consists of generally good cards and generally bad cards. There are seven categories, and there are only eight cards that are in top 3 in some caregory. In particular, Aslan is the high card in all categories except for height (where the top is Aslan's general), and cruelty (where the top is White Witch.) Mainly, the game revolved around the eight top cards, and in particular around Aslan, Aslan's general and the White Witch, so that the luck from the deal was a significalt factor. Usually, at most two tricks were won by cards outside the eight top cards.

In particular, the non-Aslan categories (that is, Cruelty and Height) were very significant, because they allowed the side without Aslan cash in tricks. The main techniques of standard trick-taking games worked also in this game, except for establishing long suits (which requires the concept of following suit, not present in this game) and voiding suits in order to ruff (which requires the concept of trumps.) The main tactics:
* Proper timing of cashing in high cards. (Aslan's general is the top in Height, and quite high in other categories. If you do not play it as height in time, you may lose it, but playing it prematurely may promote cards below it in other categories.)
* Leading a medium-high card in some category in the hope that the second player must play the second-highest or third-highest card in that category, which is beaten by further cards.
* Trying to make the opponents play top cards of some category as cards of a wrong category. ((Example, if there is the White Witch (the second in Magical Power) in the dummy, play Santa (the third or the fourth in Magical Power) as the opening lead as "Magical Power". This way the dummy is forced to play the White Witch, which is beat by Aslan (the first in Magical Power). Voila, the White Witch does not get a trick in Cruelty.)) In particular the Fighting Skills and Magical Powers categories are good in this, since cards that are very high in any category tend to be at least moderately high in Fighting Skills and Magical Powers.
* When there are several equal cards that are winners in some category, give a trick to the opponents' sure winner in some other category (for Aslan, if possible, since it usually gets a trick sooner or later), and hope that they will lead the category where you have one of the equal winners. This way you might be the last one to play a winner.

Thus, there are immensely complicated tactical oppoturnities in the play, but tactical play is possible only after one memorizes the attributes of the top cards in the deck. (However, one does not need to know all the deck by heart. Knowing the top third of the deck or the top half is enough.)

At least in my playtesting, the attacker seemed to have a slight advantage over the defenders, but not a very big one. (Making the opening lead against an exposed dummy is very advantageous.)

To add more variation to the game, it is possible to deal everyone 7 cards, and expose the two extra cards, which are noy used in the game. (I am not sure if the game is biased in favour of the attacker after this adjustment.)

I am not fully satisfied with my game-ending condition (that is, after a fixed number of deals), since it means that some players may become unable to win before the game ends. Maybe it would be better to play so that only the attacker gets points (-4 for no tricks, -3 for one trick, -2 for two tricks, -1 for three tricks, 1 for four tricks, 2 for five tricks, 3 for six tricks, and 4 for seven tricks), and the first player to get 7 points wins the game. Maybe, still, add the rule that a player always has at least zero points (which guarantees that the game will end with the probability 1), and that if the attacker gets 7 tricks, he gets an extra deal where he is an attacker. (Giving also the defenders points in a game where the first player to reach a limit wins is no good, since it would lead to semi-cooperative play. The above variant keeps the defenders always fully cooperative.)
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Minty Hunter
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My four-year old son came up with something that at least extends the gameplay a bit: the ability to call 'low' or 'high' when choosing an attribute. Can help you conquer those big-number cards...

But hey, it's Top Trumps- waddya expect in terms of deep gameplay? ;-)
 
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Lee Hodgson
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A couple of the old decks I have , like from the '70's kind of thing , have A1-A4 , B1-B4 etc. up to F I think , tagged in the top corner of the card . Not like it builds any new strategy or anything and hell I can't even remember what the ' sets ' do but I noticed a few new decks I've bought in the last few weeks don't even have these alpha-numeric' set ' designations anymore . Anyone know why ?
 
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Julian Anstey
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Estimation:

Shuffle the cards but do not deal them out. The first player reveals the TOP HALF ONLY (just the image and name) of the first card and names a category. Each player in turn then states what they think is the value on the card. The person who named the category has the last guess. It is not allowed to choose the same value already given by someone else. If the correct answer was given exactly, that player wins 3 points. If a single player gave the closest answer, they get 2 points. If two players tied for the closest answer, they get 1 point each. The first player for the next round will be the player to the left of the previous first player. Continue until the deck is exhausted. The player with most points wins.

Alternatively, if a single player is closest, they win the card. If there is a tie, play another round with the same card. The same first player specifies a different category. Repeat until someone wins the card. If all categories are exhausted, or sooner if agreed by the players, discard the card. At the end of the game, the player with most cards wins.
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Julian Anstey
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Trump Slam:

Shuffle the cards and deal them all out to the middle of the table such that they are within fair view and reach of all players. Pick a first category at random. One player begins a countdown, "3, 2, 1, Slam!" The players have until the word "Slam" to claim a card by putting their palm on it. They can choose a card sooner if they wish - the "Slam" just represents the last possible moment for selection. Only one player may select any particular card. If someone else is beaten to it, they may still choose another card if the "Slam" has not yet been called. Whoever selected the card with the highest value in the current category wins that card. In case of a tie, all tied players win their card. For the next round, the category will be the next category on the cards, looping back to the top when necessary.

Play until the number of cards remaining equals the number of players in the game. The winner is the one with most cards.
 
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Julian Anstey
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Two Player Co-op Defenders:

Shuffle and deal the cards to three equal piles. The players take a pile each. The third pile represents the attacking force.

The players each turn over their top card. They choose one category each. They must choose different categories. They may confer if they wish.

Turn over the top card of the attackers' pile and compare the chosen categories. If both players WIN OR TIE, the attacking card is repulsed (killed). If a defender LOSES OR TIES, their card is lost (killed). Defenders that win outright survive. Put surviving defenders into one pile and killed defenders into another pile. These piles are kept separate for scoring purposes. Killed attackers are discarded.

If BOTH defenders LOSE a round outright, they lose the game. All remaining defenders are also lost. The final score is MINUS the total of all lost defenders.

If all attackers are repulsed, the players win the game. The final score is the total of all surviving attackers.
 
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Julian Anstey
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2 Player Rally Race:

Shuffle and deal the cards into 3 equal piles. The players take a pile each. The third pile represents the "road".

Turn over a road card and roll a suitable die to select a category at random. The value of the selected category represents the conditions on this section of road. A lower number mean the road is more twisty or slippery, for example.

Each player selects ANY card from their hand. When both players are ready, the selected cards are revealed. Whoever played the card with the highest value in the selected category WITHOUT EXCEEDING the value on the "road" card covered the road in the faster time and wins the road card. It is kept separate from their hand and is used for scoring at the end of the game. The played cards are discarded.

If one player EXCEEDS the value on the road card, they "spin out" and "lose time". The other player takes the road card AND both played cards for their scoring.

If the players tie or if both spin out, discard all three cards for that round.

The winner is the player with most scoring cards at the end.
 
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Julian Anstey
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Resource Grab:

Edit: This wasn't particularly great when I tried it. I think it would be better with multiple packs with the same categories (the exact same pack twice would be okay).

Each player will need one or maybe more meeples or counters. It is necessary to keep track of which cards belong to which categories, so it may be a good idea for each player to have a "player mat" - a piece of paper with spaces marked for cards for each category.

Phase 1

Shuffle and deal out the cards to a number of equal face-up piles. The number of piles should equal the number of categories in the deck, and it should be made clear which pile represents which category. Players then take it in turn to place a meeple to claim the top card in pile. They cannot choose a card already claimed by another player. For examples of how to do this fairly, see below. When they have finished laying meeples, the players take their claimed cards and put them in the matching categories on their mats, or otherwise remember which categories they belong to. For the next round, rotate the first player. Keep going until all cards have been claimed (or as many as fairly can be).

Phase 2

Take the first category. Any player who has a card in that category MUST play it. If they have more than one, they can choose which card to play. The cards are revealed simultaneously. If one player wins outright, they win all the cards, which are kept to one side for scoring purposes. If two or more players tie, the played cards are shared out evenly between them, with any leftovers being discarded. Play another round using the next category, looping back to the first category when necessary and continue until all cards have been played from the mats. The winner is the one who won the most cards in Phase 2.

Examples of selecting

3 players, 6 categories - play a meeple each, then player another meeple each so that all 6 cards are selected each round.

4 players, 5 categories - play one meeple each. Discard the unselected card each round. At then end there will be 6 discarded cards. Shuffle them and deal 5 of them out for one more round.
 
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Julian Anstey
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Trump Tennis:

Shuffle the cards and deal 4 out to each player. The first player "serves" by playing any card from his hand and naming any category. The other player checks her hand. If she has a card that beats that category she can "return the ball" by playing that card and naming a new category on the card played. She can only name the category immediately above or the one immediately below the previous one. The categories do not wrap around, so there may be only one category to choose from if the player is "forced into a corner". Continue until there are no cards left in the players' hands, or until one player is unable to play a card that beats the previous one. The player who won the point is the last one to play a card. Discard any remaining cards and deal out new hands. If the pack is exhausted, shuffle all cards and deal again. Score as in tennis.

You can play doubles by dealing 3 cards to each player. If the players are A1 and A2 on team A and B1 and B2 on team B, play in order A1 -> B1 -> A2 -> B2 -> A1 etc. For the next point, A1 will "serve" to B2, so play A1 -> B2 -> A2 -> B1 -> A1 etc.
 
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Julian Anstey
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Threes
2 players. Deal 3 cards to each player, then deal two piles of three cards to the side of the play area, turning the top card of each pile over. Play the mini decks of three cards, in the order they were dealt, taking it in turn to lead. The leader nominates the category, as usual. If a player wins outright, he/she takes the cards and puts them to one side as a score. If it is a draw, the players take one card each as a score.

After the players have played the 3 hands, the players each take one of the piles of three cards that were previously dealt out. The player who gained the fewest cards in the previous round of three gets to choose first. In case of a tie, the player who led to hand two gets to choose first.

Before playing the next round, each player turns the upturned card face down and secretly places it into first, second or third position in their mini deck. Then deal out two more piles of three cards, with topmost card turned over, to be taken at the end of the next round.

Play the hands again, and continue as above until all cards have been played. The winner is the player who won most cards overall. In case of a tie, the player who led to the second hand in the very first round wins.
 
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Julian Anstey
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Bid up

Bidding round(s)
Deal to each player one card for each category available. Deal one card for each category to the centre of the table, in a column.

For the first hand, the players will be bidding for the top card, and the category in use will be the top category on the cards. Each player places one card from their hand face down in front of them. When everyone is ready, turn the cards over. If there is a single player who played the highest card, they take the card that was bid for into their hand and discard the card they bid with, and all other players take their cards back into their hands. The player with the winning bid must take the card, even if they do not want it. If there was a tie for first place, all players take their cards back and the bid-for card is discarded.

Play another round, this time bidding for the next card and the next category, and continue until all cards in the column have been taken or discarded. Note that a card that has been won may be used in future for any category.

If there are sufficient cards in the deck to lay out another full column then continue to do so and bid for the cards as above until no longer possible.

At the end of all bidding rounds, each player should still have one card for each category, but will (probably) have better cards than they started with.

Scoring round
Play one hand for each category, in order from top to bottom. Each player plays any one card from their hand. The players score points for the best cards played in the current category, as follows:

0 points for last place
1 point for last but one
2 points for last but two
etc.

If there are ties, share the points for the tied positions, rounding up.

The winner is the player with the most points after a hand has been played for each category.
 
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Julian Anstey
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Reactor
1 player

Goal: to disable the reactor and prevent it from exploding.

Deal all of the cards out, half to your own hand and half to a dummy hand representing the reactor. The player leads to every hand, choosing the category as desired. If the player loses a hand, a minor leak has occurred, costing 1 penalty point. At the end of the game, if the player has won at least one hand for each category, the reactor has been disabled, otherwise it explodes, costing 100 penalty points. Tied hands do not count towards disabling the reactor but also do not cause a minor leak.
 
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Julian Anstey
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Ten Pin Bowling
1 player (or more)

Lay 10 cards out face up as below to represent the pins:

7.8.9.10
.4.5.6
..2.3
...1

Turn over the next card to represent the first ball. You may choose any category and you may choose to hit any pin or pair or pins that satisfy the following rules:

1) Each of the pins must have 0 or 1 pins immediately in front of them
2) If selecting a pair, they must be adjacent and must have the same side uncovered by other pins.

So, for example, in the following layout, the following are all valid choices:

1; 2; 4; 5; 7; 1 and 2; 2 and 4; 4 and 7.

All other pins or pairs of pins are invalid.

7.8
.4.5
..2
...1

To see what was knocked down, compare the score on the bowling ball card with the pins that were hit. If the ball score is higher or equal, the pin(s) were knocked over. If the ball score is higher (but not if equal) then it may knock down further pins. Check any pins immediately behind against the ball, and continue until the last row is reached. For example, if the ball hits pin 2 and its value beats pin 2's, you may check pins 4 and 5, and if the ball score also beats pins 4 and 5, you may check pins 7, 8 and 9.

If the first ball did not result in a strike, turn over another card for the second ball and play as above. Then shuffle and deal out ten pins again, and so on. Scoring is as per ten pin bowling.
 
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Deduction
2 players

Player 1 shuffles the deck and takes 6 cards. Depending on the difficulty required, and how well the players know the deck, player 1 can:

1) Show player 2 the cards, allowing player 2 to study the values on them.
2) Show player 2 the names and pictures only
3) Not show player 2 anything.

Player 1 then selects 3 of the cards and places them face up behind a shield so that player 2 can not see them. The other 3 cards are removed from the game without being seen again by player 2.

Player 2 then takes the remainder of the deck and turns over one card at a time, announcing a category and its value, and specifying card 1, 2 or 3. Player 1 says whether the corresponding card has a value higher, lower or equal. Player 1 repeats until he is ready to guess at the names of the 3 cards that were selected by player 1. If the deck is exhausted before player 1 makes a correct guess, take the discarded cards, shuffle and continue.

Score 1 penalty point for each card used for comparison and 10 penalty points for an incorrect (or partially incorrect) guess.
 
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Face Down
2 Players
Deal 15 cards to each player, face up in 3 rows of 5 cards per player. One player may choose either a category for the first round or whether to play first or second. The other player makes the remaining choice.

The players then take turns to swap the positions of any two of their own cards. They may pass if they prefer. This is done three times each. Then each opposing pair of cards in the front row of each player is compared in turn, the far left card of player one versus the far right card of player 2, and so on. The player with the highest category score takes both cards and sets them aside for scoring. In the case of a tie, each player takes their own card back.

Now the player who took the least cards may either choose a category for the next round or may choose whether to play first or second in this round. Again, the other player makes the remaining choice.

Repeat for the remaining two rows of cards. The winner is the player who took most cards.
 
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