I design board games as a hobby and in fact I will be leading a board game design workshop in Bryant Park (New York City) June 14th. So with that in mind I want to share two fun fillers that I have designed. The first one is a push your luck bluffing game called Sweet 16 where you want to score as close to sixteen points without busting. No one has perfect information and everyone must make decisions based on what they think the other players will do. The second is a Gin Rummy variant that I call BP Rummy (BP stands for Bryant Park). I like BP Rummy because is fast and easy to teach. You also don’t have to keep score unlike other Rummys and you can play up to six players (but you can probably have seven or eight players if you tweak the numbers). Here are the rules.
Sweet 16: A 3-4 Player Dice Game
What You Need: 12 dice, a 1-6 spinner (or another different looking dice), pen and paper to keep score
The player with the spinner is the scoring player for the turn. For a 4 player game, the scoring player rolls 4 dice in the open so everyone can see the result. Then each player including the scoring player secretly sets two dice to any result. The scoring player also secretly locks in what number (1-6) scores for this round with the spinner. When each player has set their dice and when the scoring player has locked in the spinner, each player reveals what they have secretly chosen. Score the total of the all the dice with the chosen number but if the total is greater than 16 the scoring player scores zero for the round. There is one special rule. If the scoring player has exactly two sixes, he or she can also score all the ones too but if the total of the ones plus the sixes is greater than 16 the score is still zero. Finally pass the spinner to your left and repeat. Each player should have four chances to score and then the player with the highest score wins.
For a three player game, roll 3 dice in the open and each player secretly sets 3 dice. Each player should have five chances to score.
The rules to BP Rummy is a little wordy but you can probably glance over some of these rules if you have played any version of Rummy or Gin Rummy before.
BP Rummy: A Gin Rummy Variant
What You Need: Two decks of playing cards
BP Rummy is a 2-6 player gin rummy variant. The goal is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards by playing melds. Each game has one winner, is self contained and there are no points to keep track of.
First take out all the jokers. You use one deck for 2-3 players and you use two decks shuffled together for 4-6 players. Aces are low and count as a one. You also can’t wrap around a straight like K-A-2.
A meld can be 3 or 4 of the kind (eg K-K-K or A-A-A-A) or 3 or 4 card straight with the same suit (eg J-Q-K all hearts or 2-3-4-5 all clubs).
Each player is dealt 7, 10 or 13 cards (agreed beforehand). More cards means a longer game. Set aside one card faced down. This is the wild card. Players can look at the wild card by playing their first meld on the table. (eg If the faced down card is the ace of hearts then all aces are wild.) If every player has looked at the wild card, you can turn it face up.
Take the top card of the deck, reveal it and form a discard pile. Starting with the first player (chosen randomly) he or she can choose to take this card or pass. Play then goes clockwise. If all players pass on this card, then the first player plays as normal. If someone takes this card, he or she is first to act.
During each players’ turn they have to take a card. This can be a blind card from the top of the deck or the top card of the discard pile (the last card discarded). Then they must discard a card face up to the discard pile. Finally they can play a meld to see the wild card (there is no benefit to playing more than one meld unless you forgot the wild card) or they can reveal a winning hand. If the game continues, the player to his or her left is next to act.
One special rule is if someone hasn’t played a meld (which means that player hasn’t looked at the wild card) and the last card that player needs to win was just discarded that player can take that card out of turn if the next player hasn’t acted yet. That player must still discard a card and reveal the winning hand as usual.
One of the melds has to have 4 cards and the other melds have to have 3 cards.
A player can never take a card back from a meld he or she played but they can add to one.
If a player took the card on top of the discard pile, that card cannot be discarded that turn.
If the deck ever runs out of cards, shuffled the discard pile aside from the top card to form a new deck.
A player must still discard a card for the turn to win.
You can play BP Rummy solo. The goal is still to go out by forming melds as quick as possible. Start with 13 cards. Actions and the set up are the same as above. At the end of your turn, you must also discard the top card of the library to the discard pile (after you discard a card from your hand) so you have a new card you can pick up from the discard pile at the start of your next turn.