Critical Play: Bluffing, Judging and Getting Vulnerable…

Game Introduction and Target Audience

I played a card game called Bluff. Through my research, it was unclear who the creator of the game was. The game is intended for family and friends as the target audience. 

Formal Elements and How the Game Works 

The game is intended for 3-10 players. In each round, there are two actions that players can choose to take: (1) Pass, which means that players do not play a card in that round, and (2) Play, which means that players play one or more cards that are (supposedly) of the rank that was declared at the start of the round by the “lead” player. Additionally, with each player’s turn, the player has an option to challenge. In a challenge, the player believes that the cards that have been played by one player do not match the rank that was declared at the start of the round by the “lead” player. This is where bluffing comes in. 

In each round, a player is selected to be the “lead.” As the “lead”, they declare a card rank and place one or more cards on the table . Each player goes around to either Pass or Play. After each player has taken an action or calls a challenge, the round is over. 

Player objectives are to run out of cards first, in which case they are deemed the winner. This ties in interestingly with the bluffing component because when a player calls a challenge on another player, there is a risk involved. If the cards are indeed the correct rank, then the player who called a challenge must take all the cards that have been played in the round into their hands. However, if the challenge was correctly called and the cards are not the correct rank, then the player whose cards were challenged must take all the cards that have been played in the round into their hands.

Resources of the game are a standard deck of cards and players. 

The Fun 

The fun of this game comes from challenge and fellowship. The mechanic to call a challenge on bluffing is what primarily drives this fun. There is a literal challenge involved, as the player who called a challenge does not know if they are correct or not, and other players do not know when a challenge may be coming. This heightens uncertainty and risk. Additionally, there is fellowship within the game as players are playing with/against each other and trying to assess each others’ bluffs. Therefore, there is room for interacting and calling other players out. 

Comparison and Vulnerability

To me, this game is more fun than other bluffing games because it involves less vulnerability. Other bluffing games that I’ve played include Mafia, Among Us, and Werewolf. I typically do not enjoy those other bluffing games because of the deliberation period, which typically takes a minute or more to carry out. As such, those games place emphasis on bluffing, lying, and deceiving other players which requires vulnerability and creates awkwardness when the truth is revealed and it is opposite of what was expected. However, with the Bluff card game, the act of bluffing is much lower cost (just placing cards on the table). Therefore, the game is not only more simple, but it also lowers the vulnerability while retaining the fun of bluffing and calling it out.

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