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Subject: Probably better for non-gamers rss

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Less snark is my goal.
United States
Allen Park
Michigan
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Disclosure: I received my copy free for playing in a demo at Origins.

Abridged starts with what seems like a neat idea - make a game that plays like Bridge but get rid of the complicated bidding that makes learning Bridge so difficult.

The components include two 52 card decks (each numbered 1 to 13 in 4 different colors), four scoresheets, and four pencils. The decks are identical but have different colored backs. The higher valued cards also have a number of dots on them which are used to determine hand strength. You use one deck at a time and the dummy (see below) should shuffle up the cards for the next deal to cut down on waiting time.

Play begins by dealing out all 52 cards, starting with the player to the left each player has a chance to declare a desire to "play". If one player says "play" he becomes declarer. His partners hand is laid on the table face up. The declarer states which color is trump or he may choose no trump. All players then state their total hand strength (cards value 11 - 13 have hand strength of 1 to 3 respectively. They then reveal their card count by counting up which color they have the most cards in. They don't reveal the color, just the number.

If no player declares, then the players announce their hand strength and the team with the highest total will be declarer - whichever of the two players on that team has the highest number. The dummy's hand is laid down, the declarer announces if he plans to take 7 tricks or 10 and the trump or no trump is declared. Players again give their color count.

Once all that is over (it usually takes about a minute), the play begins with the player to the dealer's left. He leads a card. Other players must follow suit if they are able. Whichever card is the highest value wins the trick, unless 1 or more Trump have been played, then the highest trup wins. Off-color cards which are not trump do not matter. The more tricks you take, the more points you can score (or keep your opponent from scoring). On the dummy's turn, the declarer picks a card and plays it from the dummy's face-up hand.

Whoever wins the trick leads the next round and play continues until either all cards are played.

Once all the cards are played, the round is scored. Generally, the more tricks you take, the more points you score. if the declarer's team takes more than their required number, they can score additional points. Likewise, if the other team stops them, the more they take the more points they get.

The gameplay is fun and fast and the game is easy to learn. The biggest problem from a gamer perspective is the "dummy" hand. Essentially you have a player elimination every time you deal the cards. Admittedly the dummy is back in right away, but I haven't found a gamer yet who wasn't offended at being the dummy, particularly if his partner is less adept at trick-taking games.

Overall, I think this is below average game for gamers, but is better for couples, less-competitive people, and those who play bridge or want to learn.
 
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Scott Chupack
United States
Gurnee
Illinois
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While I understand the annoyance of having a "dummy" for each hand (especially when the dummy doesn't get a chance to bid either), but the reason to have a dummy is to allow for actual strategy. Everyone that is playing the hand can see 26 of the 52 cards. That means that every missing card is in on of the 2 hidden hands, and it allows for a lot more planning than when 3 hands are hidden.

Of course the real reason there's a dummy is that bridge has a dummy.
 
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