Thursday session: Tarot, Ubongo

Yesterday’s session started with a quick round of Larry Levy’s WYSIWYG. It’s an advanced version of German Whist, a trick-taking game for two players. Players bid for the right to become a declarer and choose trumps. In the first phase players collect new cards to fill their hands with (two cards are shown, winner of the trick gets the first choice), in the second phase the final 13-card hands are played out with double points. The game also compensates for weaker initial hand in a rather clever way.

WYSIWYG is a good choice for two-player trick-taking needs, and I know I want to play this one again.

More players arrived, there were three of us… Tarok, of course. First with three, then with four. My play sucked, as usual, but then again, I got crap hands. Well, not really, I’m just not that good in planning my play. We did see something pretty cool, though: Riku and Hannu were playing against me, Riku led trump 21 aka Mond, Hannu got greedy and tried to win it with his Skis, the biggest trump (losing Mond is an instant 20 point penalty) and I got a chance to slam down my Pagat, trump number 1, to win the trick.

What a satisfying move! Usually Pagat is the lowest trump, but when all five-point trumps (1, 21 and Skis) are played in the same trick, Pagat collects it. So, Riku did get his -20, while I got 15 points, ten of which Riku and Hannu could’ve easily protected. Well, I still missed my target by two points or so…

Ubongo box

After Tarot it was Ubongo time, followed by a round of Ubongo Mini. The guys were pretty fierce at both, but thanks to a good catch-up, I was able to win the Mini. Interesting enough we had a tie in the big one: both winners had exactly equal distribution of gems. That’s somewhat unlikely, I think.

Pingwin box

Tapani had brought Pingwin and wanted to play it, so why not. Well, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind if this was my last game ever… I’m not a huge fan, no. I just don’t like the whole basic mechanism of the game, pretty much.

Finally, another new card game to wrap up the day: David Parlett’s Ninety-Nine. This one’s a plain-trick game, mostly for three, with a clever bidding mechanism. Each player gets 12 cards from 36-card pack and discards three to form a bid. The suits are coded: clubs means 3, hearts are 2, spades are 1 and diamonds are 0. So, to make the average three-trick bid, you could discard club-diamond-diamond, three spades or heart-spade-diamond.

The discarding adds some uncertainty, too, as you don’t know which cards are available and which are not. That also adds some potential for nasty plays, like discarding top trumps… The game is fairly simple and easy to play without cheat sheets, so this one goes definitely to my toolkit of useful card games.

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