New to Me: Summer 2017 — The Season of the Expansions

I love returning to my favorite games and playing them in new ways. That means that I’m usually a fan of expansions, and I played a good number of them this summer. But, there were new games too, including a surprising number of variants on old mechanics — whether they be Poker resolution or classic deckbuilding. As usual, this is a listing of games according to how much I like them, as a medium-weight euro-gamer, and they’re new to me (although I was pleased to play a lot that were just flat-out new this time around).

The Great

Hocus (2016). I am not a fan of Texas Hold’em, which I consider a bluffing exercise with probability memorization thrown in. Sure, you can be better at it than other people, but I don’t find it a fun game, or even a game. And, Hocus uses Texas Hold’em mechanics … but I love it.

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Parlaying Success

A couple of months ago I played several hands of Parlay. This is a Poker/word-game that I reviewed last year. I thought it was excellent then, and even though I couldn’t put together a decent word to save my life in this recent game, I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

Parlay has a unique mechanism whereby you collect a hand of 7 cards from a normal 52-card deck, with each card also featuring a letter. Then you try and simultaneously put together a top-rate 5-card Poker hand and a good word of up to 7 letters.

After each player has assembled his final hand of cards, he then decides whether to stay (betting that he has a better total hand value than anyone else) or fold.

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Clubs, Spades and … Orange Chameleons?!

Knucklebones Magazine: January, 2007This is a reprint of an article written in August, 2006 for first publication in the January, 2007 issue of the now-defunct Knucklebones magazine. Because of its origins, this article is more introductory and (hopefully) more polished than many of my online writings. Despite the original source of this article, this blog is in no way associated with Jones Publishing or Knucklebones Magazine.


Card games are a great American past time. Many of us remember games of War, Old Maid, and Go Fish from our childhoods. We might have played Rummy, Euchre, Spades, or Hearts with our families while growing up. Poker and Bridge remain great reasons to get together with friends, while Solitaire keeps our attention when we can’t find other people to play games with.

Traditional card games are great, because with a single deck of cards — and possibly a few accessories, like Poker chips and a scoring pad — you can literally play hundreds of different games. However, traditional card games are, out of necessity, traditional. Sometimes we want a bit more … and in the last ten years, commercial games have begun to fill this void. Increasingly we can find commercial card games that use familiar and standard mechanics — like Bridge’s trick-taking, Rummy’s set-collection, and Poker’s hand-comparison. However, these new games also tend to very original and innovative as well.

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