Truco is an extremely popular game in my home country of Argentina, often referred to as the national card game (yes, it is that popular). It is an extremely simple game, with several rounds composed of trying to win tricks by playing one card at a time. There are a few game components that make for fun dynamics that I appreciate.
The first important mechanic in play is betting. Betting can happen at any stage within the rounds, but players can only take turns raising, meaning that if you raise 1 point, you cannot raise again until I choose to raise 1. This betting mechanic adds a very strong bluffing component since you are always trying to deceive your opponent into believing whatever is convenient for you at the time (similar to poker for example). Another mechanic twist is that players don’t have to share an equal amount of information to bet (as they do in poker). In Truco, I can see your cards first and then bet, which makes bluffing all that more attractive.
Next, Truco is a game played to 30 points where each round can net you 1 through 4 points depending on the betting point that was reached. This counting mechanic adds some very interesting dynamics as well. Players are pressured to be risky if they are losing since adding 1 point per round is likely to never make up an 8-point deficit. Similarly, winning players are encouraged to play conservatively and only allow rounds to be work many points if they see themselves winning.
Depending on how many people are around, Truco can be player as a 1v1 game or 2v2 or even 3v3. However, when the game is 3v3, players are not allowed to show each other their cards. This game mechanic forces players to be clever and tricky about how they share information. This produces dynamics such as specialized body gestures that teammates will share with one another to exchange information (kids are taught message encryption from a young age in Argentina). However, there are some general gestures most people use, they have almost been adopted by everyone to facilitate anyone playing the game with strangers. These common gestures then add another dynamic, which is message interception and decryption. People will be looking at their opponents to try to snipe their gestures and guess what other people’s hands are. In turn, that means people will purposely send faulty messages to trip people off.
Altogether, these mechanics have made the game very deceitful, with layers and layers of complexity added on depending on the level of expertise of the players. To this day, it is still one of my favorite games.