Donald Rumsfeld is a video game developer now

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Churchill Solitaire is a card game for iOS that comes from an unexpected source: former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Inspired by a version of the game played by British war leader Winston Churchill, the game is free of charge and adheres to Rumsfeld's preference for minimalism and flat design, as seen in the post-2003 architecture of various Iraqi neighborhoods.

The Wall Street Journal reports that it's likely "the only videogame developed by an 83-year-old man using a Dictaphone to record memos for the programmers." Read the rest

Pixel Tactics – A strategic two-player war game

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See sample images from this game at Wink.

Pixel Tactics is a two-player war game where you’ll be playing the part of an elite leader, steering a war band against the enemy. Both players have an identical deck of 25 cards, each representing a different character. Each card here acts differently when played in a certain rank, or used for their order ability. There’s a lot of variance in this game, since the leader that you’re playing will affect your strategy regarding the rest of the cards in your deck. Some of the leaders are combatants, and some of them help out the other units in your squad. Play continues until one of the leaders is taken out.

It’s a very portable game since the decks are small, and the rules come on a giant poster that is the play mat when flipped over. The art direction echoes sprite animations from retro video games and is charming. It’s pretty easy to pick up and play, but with all the variance, some analysis paralysis can set in from time to time. The games run really quickly though, usually in under 15 minutes per round, and with 3 to 5 rounds per game. – James Orr

Pixel Tactics Card Game by Level 99 Games Ages 12 and up, 2 players, 45 minutes $15 Buy one on Amazon Read the rest

Moby Dick, or The Card Game

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See more photos at Wink Fun.

Confession time: I’ve never read Moby Dick. I’ve meant to. I’ve tried to. I’ve even made significant headway. But I have yet to actually finish the novel. You might say that completing it is my white whale. Ahem. Apologies.

The point remains though, that even though I’ve never read the book, I know the story. I know the characters and I can make (most likely incorrect) references to elements from the book. Which is why, when I came across the Kickstarter campaign for Moby Dick, or The Card Game from King Post, I opted to back the project.

The delivered and currently available-for-purchase game is beautiful. 107 cards, 2 dice, and 40 oil tokens, plus rules make up the core set. The quality put into the components is outstanding – my set has been through numerous play throughs and still looks as clean and pretty as the day I got it. In fact, just in terms of art, this is one of the prettiest games I own.

But, how does the game play? This game will take some time and effort to play. Initial set-up is fairly easy and mainly involves putting a few key cards on the table. From there, crew selections are made. This is a longer process and where experience will come into play. Once the crews have been chosen, cards from The Sea deck are brought into play, putting the assembled crews through events pulled directly from the novel. If a whale card is pulled, the third part of the game, The Hunt, is brought into play. Read the rest

Magic cards generated by neural networks

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@RoboRosewater is a twitter account that posts, once a day, a Magic: The Gathering card generated by a recurrent neural network. [via Ditto]

This is an implementation of the science described by Vice's Brian Merchant in this article.

Reed Morgan Milewicz, a programmer and computer science researcher, may be the first person to teach an AI to do Magic, literally. Milewicz wowed a popular online MTG forum—as well as hacker forums like Y Combinator’s Hacker News and Reddit—when he posted the results of an experiment to “teach” a weak AI to auto-generate Magic cards. He shared a number of the bizarre “cards” his program had come up with, replete with their properly fantastical names (“Shring the Artist,” “Mided Hied Parira's Scepter”) and freshly invented abilities (“fuseback”). Players devoured the results.

Here's the code, and here's a simple text-only generator.

Magic: The Gathering is Turing-complete. Read the rest

Exploding Kittens is a "kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette"

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Designed by both Elan Lee (Xbox, ARGs) and Shane Small (Xbox, Marvel), and illustrated by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), Exploding Kittens is a self-proclaimed “kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette.” This humorous, tension-building card game was both the most-backed and most-funded project in Kickstarter history in early 2015. The NSFW (Not Safe For Work) edition plays exactly like the standard edition, but contains mature imagery and text. This is definitely NOT for kids!

Instead of a loaded gun, you get exploding kittens. They’re not mean or vicious, just innocent and naïve (usually). They could mistake a stick of dynamite for a toy, or accidentally pull the pin on the hand grenade that they were munching on. If you draw an exploding kitten card on your turn, you explode, and are out of the game . . . unless you can diffuse the card by neutering the poor kitten, distract him with nature documentaries, or otherwise divert the kitten’s attention. Diffused kittens are always placed back into the draw pile.

The draw pile is never replenished, so the odds of drawing an exploding kitten increases as the game progresses. On your turn, you can play as many cards as you like, skipping your turn, attacking players, stealing cards, or negating a player’s action with a “nope” card. As the game goes on, the draw pile gets smaller while the tension gets higher. Only one person is walking away alive, and everybody knows it!

Exploding Kittens takes only a few minutes to learn and plays in about fifteen minutes. Read the rest

The Contender: The Game of Political Debate

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The Contender is a political debate card game that combines the fun of Cards Against Humanity with the realism of fibs, bluster, pandering, grandstanding, bombast, and every logical fallacy you can think of. It was created and designed by four Kickstarter veterans.

Read the rest

If you like word games, here's one you can print and play for free

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Board game designer Robin David has made an Alphabear-inspired word game that uses printable playing cards.

How card games became cool again

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Wildly-popular card game Android: Netrunner has an exceptionally diverse and inviting lore and universe, but its community of players still has to push back against the social stereotypes of the traditional card game scene. Here's how they're doing it.

This hilarious topical guessing game is ten bucks and fits in your pocket

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One of my favorite social card games is offering you something new.

Can you please stop with Cards Against Humanity

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If you like card games and board games even a little bit, chances are you know Cards Against Humanity—it's the most popular 'thing' of its kind, having earned like $12 million bucks. Which sucks, because it's awful. Read the rest

Debate your friends on culture with this new card game

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Which lulls you into complacency: Leg warmers, or the font Helvetica? What's better proof of the way absolute power corrupts: The great Pacific garbage patch, or Labradoodles? Is brunch fraying our moral fabric?

The Metagame is a clever, colorful set of tools that let you pose interesting questions to friends, and debate the relative merit of a weird, wild array of issues. Designed by Eric Zimmerman, Colleen Macklin and John Sharp, a set of cards that began as a game convention knowledge-sharing device is now for everyone.

The versatile Metagame cards include rules for six separate games -- some designed for subjective conversation, others for strategic competition. I like the idea that card games can create social intimacy, like in Games by Play Date's Slash, where you try to outdo your friends' fanfic pairings.

Plenty of people I know play Cards against Humanity -- I'm easily put off by its lazy "omg a rude word" guffawing and internet memes, but appreciate that The Metagame looks poised to offer fresher, more stimulating comparison chat.

You can play The Metagame with a pair or a party. It's $25 on Amazon. Read the rest

Casino sues poker star for using "marked" deck

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Space is suing World Series of Poker star Phil Ivey for nearly $10 million for using what they claim are "imperfect" playing cards that gave Ivey a leg up. Borgata is also going after Gemaco, Inc., makers of the playing cards. From NorthJersey.com:

The suit alleges that the some of the cards made by Gemaco turned out to not have a perfectly symmetrical design on the back of the card. Ivey, the suit claims, was able to figure out what the first card to be dealt was – giving him a significant advantage over the “house,” or casino.

Ivey contacted Borgata officials in April 2012 and sought to play mini-baccarat for up to $50,000 a hand on the $1 million he would wire to the casino, according to the suit. Given Ivey’s high-roller status, the casino agreed to his request that he would be given a private area in which to play as well as provided with a card dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese. The casino also agreed to let Ivey bring a guest to the table as well, to provide one purple deck of Gemaco playing cards for use, and for an automatic card shuffling device to be used.

According to the suit, “The pretext given for some of these requests was that Ivey was superstitious."

"Famed poker star Phil Ivey sued by Borgata for almost $10 million over alleged playing card scam" (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!) Read the rest

Anomia - a fun way to freak out your kid

Carla and I freaked out our 9-year-old daughter Jane when we sat down to play Anomia the other night. That's because we were laughing hysterically. "I've never seen you guys like this before," she said, her eyes wide.

The reason we were laughing was because of the ridiculous answers we were blurting out during Anomia's "face-offs." A face-off occurs when one of the cards you draw from the deck has a symbol that matches the symbol on another player's upturned card. When that happens, you have to shout out an example of the category listed on the opponent's card. Example categories: comic book character, department store, fast food restaurant, occupation, European country, plumber's tool, zoo animal, mobster. If you call out a correct example before the other player, you score a point.

The definition of anomia is "a problem with word finding or recall," and, as you might guess, trying to think of a word when you are under pressure isn't easy. Often, we will say words that have nothing to do with the categories, because our brains have short-circuited. Players tend to scream the answers, which adds to the merriment. The game gets really fun when one or more "cascade" rounds follow a face-off.

Anomia's rules are simple, and we were playing like champs five minutes after tearing the shrink wrap off the box. The instructions say that a round lasts about 30 minutes, but when we play, our rounds last only 15 minutes, so we usually play two rounds. Read the rest