Beer Game: Ultimate Loser|
Category: Card Games
Submitted By: william (w.) powers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
History: After getting really tired of playing Asshole/President, we sat down and worked out a new game that is not simply the application of a general use algorithm to a completely random deal.
And, Ultimate Loser was born. This game has evolved over the course of a week from a moronically simple game, to something that is now slightly too complex for us to handle after we have played for an hour. Rules have been worked in and removed with this factor in mind, until we have reached the final version.
1 deck of cards
Object: To not be the last player with cards (like asshole).
Play: Cards are dealt to all players such that all players have the same number of cards AND at least 1 card is left over. For example, with 3 players, 17 cards are dealt to each and 1 card remains; with 4 players, 12 cards are dealt to each player, and 4 cards remain. The spare card(s) are set in a neutral area of the table, and a single spare card is turned up. Additional spare cards are not made visible to players. Optionally, a joker may be included to work out the math such that all cards are in play. With 2 players, 13 cards are randomly dealt to each player.
Play begins with the person on the left of the last hand's Ultimate Loser. Play is clockwise, and in tricks.
The lead may be a single card, a pair, 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, or a straight-flush of at least three cards (ie., 3,4,5 of clubs). Play continues in a clockwise direction with each successive player choosing to play the same type of combination (ie., a pair), choosing to pass, or choosing to pass and exchange 1 card in their hand with the card exposed during to deal (the card set to the side). In cases where a player chooses to exchange a card with the exposed card, the card set down by the player is the new exposed card, and may be picked up by another player. It is important to note that players do not have to beat the previous player in order to play. Players only have to use the same combination of cards (pair, straight, etc). When a straight-flush is played, on straight-flushes of equal length may be played (eg., 4 long, 5 long, etc).
After each player has played, passed, or exchanged, the cards are removed from play and the player who had the highest cards wins the trick, and leads. In cases of a tie, 2 players each play a single ace for example-- the player who first played the highest card wins. In cases where the person who wins the trick does not have any cards left, the second best person (accounting for the tie rule) wins the lead. A person who passes is not considered to have played (obviously).
In the extreme case where all of the remaining players passed on the lead, the lead is determined by playing Paper-Scissors-Rock.
Penalties: The loser of each trick must take 1 drink. In cases of a tie for the loss, the tie rule is not applied. Both players drink. Any player who passes is considered to lose the trick.
When only one player has cards left to play, the ULTIMATE LOSER has been determined. The Ultimate Loser must drink 1/2 of a full beverage (ie., half a beer), and must then deal the next hand. In cases where players run out of cards at the same time, the tie rule is applied, and only the loser of the trick is the ULTIMATE LOSER.
All drink on a FourPlay (all of a numbered card).
No other penalties/bonuses exist.
Notes: We had a LOSER SCRAPE rule, but it seemed to prove too complicated for the loser to always be drinking and scraping. It slowed play too much. We then tried a WINNER SCRAPE rule, which worked almost as poorly. We now use the SOMEBODY SCRAPE rule.
The Paper-Scissors-Rock rule has been a point of debate. A couple of us love it (we win a lot), and a couple hate it (they always lose at it). It developed when we realized that there was an advantage given to passing, if we let the next person take control of leads. Since we prefer a game that requires people to consider the cards they play in terms of drinking and in terms of controlling the game, we refused to let the lead move to a person who does not play a card. With this in mind, players will sometimes choose to pass/drink instead of playing in order to try to control the game when their low cards might win.
The penalty is enough, if it is enforced correctly. In reality, we only use a penalty of about 4 drinks for the Ultimate Loser. The drinks taken along the way do most of the damage (with 3 people, you could drink as many as about 10 before getting the final penalty).
The Gin card (exposed card, nicknamed the Gin card for it's resemblance to Gin Rummy) is crucial. A lousy hand can be greatly improved with some key passes. The randomness of the deal is lowered, and card playing ability is emphasized.
Likewise, the straight-flush rule is crucial. The Gin card will lead to some amazing straights (8 long for example). Again, lousy hands can be converted into something useful.
We have not used the skip rule. It seems too powerful a weapon in a trick-based game.
Hints: Always play. Not winning is a heck of a lot better than losing.
If you can't win, and look like the loser - play your lowest card. A drink now might save one later.
If resigned to losing the game, make others drink along the way.
Use the Gin card carefully; what you put down might help someone else more than you were helped by what you picked up.