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Subject: A thoughtful classic card game with the folks rss

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Stephen Scholtz
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Brought a couple games home for Canadian Thanksgiving, and after a few simple warm-up games of James Ernest' Pairs, me and my folks (both in their 60's) gave Hocus a shot.

We played the Classic version, as the advanced game would have been too much for my dad. (He hates games with any kind of "special abilities") After playing an open hand to get an understanding of what kinds of decisions you should be making, we settled into the game proper but initially with a couple of modifications, one of which I think is helpful and the other merely optional:

1. We started out with two face up cards in the community. This was helpful in order to guide the thinking of my folks in a particular direction, they had a starter card to give them an idea of what they could build. I recommend this if you're teaching the game, as leaving things open offers too much choice that a new player might get paralyzed with. As players get used to the game, you can leave it open and play the game properly.

2. The second mod we made was to also start with a card in the pot to jump start the points. This wasn't as useful, as all it really does is increase the potential point scores, makes winning more swingy and shortens the game time. Still, it was kind of helpful for my folks as it helped them to visualize the different play areas.

My Dad took several hands before he started to kind of get it, but even then he was struggling. My bonus Mom had a much easier time and was quickly making good plays and winning communities, although not yet figured out how to score bigger points.

All in all a very pleasant and fun first crack at the game, really liked it! Looking forward to getting it to the table with my poker-loving friends.
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Grant Rodiek
United States
Redwood City
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts! We really love it when folks do so as we're trying to get the word out.

I think your mods are good ones for teaching folks. We had some people suggest the "random card in the community" thing, but it can really swing the game (getting a free matching card if you have 3 others in your hand guarantees a win) and can make things REALLY tight/short in 4 player.

But, they are GREAT for teaching as you used it.

On the week where we finally cracked the code for Hocus, I was at Thanksgiving with my folks playing with my brother, his wife, and my mom. My mom picked it up immediately (she's a classic card game shark) and I knew we were on the right path. So, I love reading about you playing with your folks on Thanksgiving.

Thanks for sharing!

ps We found the split to be almost 50/50 between our players regarding Classic versus the full game, and even Josh and I are split there (he prefers the Spells, I prefer classic).
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Nick Tich
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
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Interesting idea with the face up card to start the community play. I can definitely see the appeal of having some direction to get things moving, especially for those new players that have to figure out what spell to start with.

Grant, I see you thought that this little mechanism really tightened/shortened the game with higher player counts. Could you simply increase the Community limit to 5, rather than the four? That way the table would have the same number of plays to the community, but you'd still get that direction that would help out newcomers. Perhaps this would even help mitigate the luck of pairing those initial cards in the community? (all this is assuming classic mode - I'm not sure it would translate all that well to spells)

Neat idea, I'll have to try it out next time I introduce the game to new players.
 
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Grant Rodiek
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Rugmouse wrote:
Interesting idea with the face up card to start the community play. I can definitely see the appeal of having some direction to get things moving, especially for those new players that have to figure out what spell to start with.

Grant, I see you thought that this little mechanism really tightened/shortened the game with higher player counts. Could you simply increase the Community limit to 5, rather than the four? That way the table would have the same number of plays to the community, but you'd still get that direction that would help out newcomers. Perhaps this would even help mitigate the luck of pairing those initial cards in the community? (all this is assuming classic mode - I'm not sure it would translate all that well to spells)

Neat idea, I'll have to try it out next time I introduce the game to new players.


So, 5 cards in the community with so much player agency basically turns Hocus into "The game of Full House!" It's not super competitive any more. If the game is more random, like traditional Texas Hold 'em, then 5 in the community and 2 in the pocket is fine. If you're playing Hocus, where players have 9-10 cards to choose from and can play them as they wish, it basically just turns into crazy fest.

It sorta ruins the tension of the game I guess.

BUT. When teaching, or playing at home? Do as you please. I'm not there to stop you
 
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