Another week, another gamer challenge, and this weeks challenge was to play a partners game. For me this challenge harkened back to an older time when couples would “play bridge with the Henderson’s every Wednesday night”. Partner games are simply built for couples, you and your partner against a competing couple, so I guess it’s appropriate that this challenge fell during February, although last week might have been more appropriate yet. Oh well.
For me, I found the partner’s game hard to accomplish. You see, I usually have too many players for that, or only three. For some reason, four is a hard number for me to achieve. I can usually scrape together five or six players more easily, and this week, when I started asking for gamers it was the same problem.
I got a lot of great suggestions from our fans and followers: including Tichu, Zetema, and Paks. However, when I started trying to herd my players towards one or another Euchre is what they honed in on. They actually started excitedly suggesting it as soon as I mentioned “partners game”.
If you live outside of Indiana, Euchre (pronounced “You-ker”), might be a foreign concept to you. But in Indiana, it’s a statewide past time. I’m not sure if there is such a thing as the “Official State Game” (like you would have with the Official State Bird), but if there is, I have little doubt that it is Euchre. Tournaments of this game are routinely played on college campuses, and even I remember sitting around playing it in high school when we were given down time.
What is Euchre? It’s a trick taking partners game. However, rather than bidding on the number of tricks, your major decision revolves around a fluctuating trump. The game is played with the numbers 9-Ace of each suit, you can put the rest of the deck aside. This little deck is shuffled and all four players are dealt five cards. Then the dealer turns up the top card of the remaining deck. Each person goes around the table and either tells the dealer to “pick it up” or “pass”. If the dealer picks it up, that suit becomes trump. If no one tells the dealer to pick it up, then the process is repeated, but this time allowing each player to call the trump or pass. Once the trump suit is decided, the hand of five cards is played just like in Spades or Hearts with each person throwing out one card, and they must follow suit. High card takes the trick.
After our game of Euchre (in which my partner wanted to ring my neck repeatedly), we decided to try something a little more modern: two-headed giant Nightfall. Yes, I realize that sounds like gibberish to most, but really I haven’t lost my mind.
“Two-headed giant” is a term often associated with collectible card games, such as “Magic: The Gathering”, and refers to the style of play. Normally the game is a free for all, but in “two-headed giant” style of play the game becomes a partner match up. Two players versus two players. Each player still has their own deck, but usually share life points. Given that we had never seen anyone play two headed giant Nightfall (a deck builder from AEG), we had to improvise some of our own rules.
My partner and I sat on one side of the table, and our opponents sat on the other, this way we could easily show each other our hands and scheme about strategies. While sharing life points didn’t translate well to this game, we decided that it would be the combined wound totals (damage points) that would decide which team was the victor, although those wounds would go into each individuals deck. And what about those personal libraries that an individual can buy from? Well, we decided to share those. So each team had four cards that only their team could buy from.
Two-headed giant Nightfall worked really well, and we all agreed we would like to do that again sometime. One minor tweak was mentioned: partners shouldn’t sit side by side. This led to one player smashing down an opponents defenses and then the other barreling through with all the damage they could do. Then it would be their turn, and the same thing would happen to us. It just seemed like it would have flowed better to break up the partners turns. Although it would have been harder to collaborate too.
So how did you do this week? Did the Hendersons come over for Bridge?
Next weeks challenge is to “play a game that was designed over 100 years ago”. Before you panic about what you may or may not have in your collection, let me tell you that there is a lot that fits that category. Don’t believe me? Take a look at BGG’s listing of games that are over 100 years old.