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6:42pm on Wednesday, 15th September, 2010:

Strip Tease


Remember that batch of 19 packs of old playing cards I got last week? There were several non-standard decks that in it, one of which was for a game called Strip Tease.

Now you may be thinking that this is going to feature the same kind of racy material as the "glamour" cards I showed you before; I suspect the original owner of the cards may have thought along those lines, anyway. Sadly for those hoping to cop an eyeful of the tastefully-undressed female form, however, it's no such thing: most of the cards are more Happy Families than "Oh did I take those playing cards with me to the bathroom?". Here are the closest the cards come to pornography:

That's not actually why I'm blogging this.

The thing is, although these cards are for a game that has its own special cards, actually you can play that game with a normal deck. All they've done is reskin a regular trick-taking game. They've made no attempt whatsoever to conceal the fact that it was devised using a normal deck (indeed, they may not even have designed the underlying game — I don't recognise it, but then I don't know all that many).

I see the same kind of thing in original modern games. Lost Cities, for example, is played with cards numbered 2 to 10 with three special cards per lost city (of which there are five); it's pretty obvious that the original design work was done using a regular pack of cards, and that during playtesting the aces went and we got an extra suit. The fact that changes were made from the playing-cards version isn't purely for marketing purposes — I've tried it with four suits and it's not as good. Playing cards were used as a rapid prototyping system, but the final game went beyond that. My own Spymaster game used a similar approach.

Strip Tease, however makes no attempt to distance itself from its origins. I guess it's possible that the game is best with exactly 13 cards per suit plus a joker, but I doubt it. The designer just doesn't seem to have considered the possibility that the 4x13 paradigm for playing cards may not be inviolate.

Oh well. They probably made more money out of this than I ever made out of any of my games.

Finally, for those game design enthusiasts still reading who are actually interested in seeing the rules to Strip Tease, here they are (4-player version):

Have fun!

PS: Don't you love the way they call it "A Game of CHANCE"? Modern games fall over themselves to claim they're games of skill, so they don't fall foul of gambling laws...

Referenced by Cheery Families.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).