|Designed by||Kenny VenOsdel and P.D. Magnus|
|Extra Material||suit chips|
an auction and brinksmanship game that's alternately tense and madcap
It's about timing. You need to know when to baulk.
Bawk? Like a chicken?
No. It's who baulks first. Who flinches first.
Finches? They're smaller than chickens.
This is a brinksmanship and auction game played in two phases. During the first phase, you build a hand of cards. During the second phase, you play the cards from your hand to win cards for your score pile. At the end, the player with the most highly ranked cards in their score pile wins the game.1
Shuffle the basic deck. With five players, set one card aside.
Each player starts with 12 tokens: 2 of each suit.
Players start with no cards in their hands.
Decide who will be start player and give them the Excuse. The Excuse serves as a start player marker, and it should always be kept face up on the table.
Deal out one card per player, face up in the middle of the table. Arrange them in rank order, from low to high: as usual, the order is A,2,…,9,. If there are cards of matching ranks, the one dealt earlier goes before the one dealt later.
The player who has the Excuse puts it next to the lowest card and takes the first turn. He must has a choice to either (a) put one of his suit tokens on the lowest card in the line or (b) take the lowest card in the line and add it to his hand. The player on his left takes the next turn, choosing one of the two options.
The first player to take a card also takes the Excuse.
When you put a token on a card, it can be of any suit.
When you take a card, you are out of the round. Play continues with the remaining players until all of the cards have been taken. Everybody will have gotten one card in the round.
If you run out of tokens, you must take a card. When you take a card that has tokens on it, you add the tokens to your supply.
Once all of the cards have been taken, another group of cards is dealt out and arranged. If this exhausts the deck, then Phase Two starts. If not, then another round starts: the player with the Excuse puts it next to the lowest card and takes the first turn, and so on.
The round begins with an auction lot of one card per player face up in the middle of the table. In the first round, these will be the last cards dealt out from the deck.
Each player selects a card from their hand to be their bid and puts it face down in front of them. Players then simultaneously reveal their bids.
The player with the highest ranked bid card takes the highest-ranked card from the auction lot and puts it face down in front of them to start their score pile. (The rule for resolving tied bids is given below.) Then the player with the second ranked bid takes the second ranked card from the auction lot. And so on, with everybody getting one card for their score pile.
A new auction lot is formed from the cards that were bid in the first round, launching another auction round. Each player selects one of the remaining cards from their hand to bid for that lot.
This continues until players have bid with all of their cards, when the game ends. The cards used to bid in the final auction round are discarded.
Resolving tied bids
When two players play bid cards that are the same ranks, there is an auction with tokens to resolve it. Each player bids with suit tokens which they have from Phase One, but they may only use tokens of a suit on the card that they used to bid.
Example: Maire bids with 6, and Evan bids with 6. In the tie-breaker, Maire can use and tokens. Evan can use and tokens.
Players select their bids at the same time, either hiding them behind their hands or in their closed fists, and reveal their bids simultaneously.
If one of the players has bid more tokens than the other, then the player who bid more discards their tokens and decides how the tie is resolved.
If the closed-fist auction is also a tie, then start with the player on the righthand side of the player holding the Excuse and continue counter-clockwise until you come to a player who bid in the closed-fist auction. That player discards the tokens that they bid with, decides how the tie is resolved, and also takes the Excuse.
Discarded tokens are removed from the game.
Resolving ties in the auction lot
If there are two cards of the same rank in the auction lot, the player who takes their card first may decide which one to take.
You may not decide to take a lower-ranked card instead of a higher-ranked one; you only get a choice when there is more than one card with the same highest rank in the auction lot when you take a card.
At the end of the game, tally up the value of the cards in your score pile. Tokens that you have at the end of the game may influence the value of Aces and Crowns, but are not in themselves worth points.
The player with the highest score wins. If there is a tie, the player with the most tokens wins. If that is a tie, too, then everybody wins.
Each Ace is worth the number of tokens of that suit which you have or the value of the highest-ranked number card of that suit in your score pile, whichever is lower.
Number-ranked cards are worth their rank.
Each Crown is worth the number of tokens of that suit which you have or the value of the highest-ranked number card of that suit in your score pile, whichever is higher.
Example: Maire has 6 tokens and A, 9, in her score pile. The Ace is worth 6 points, the nine is worth 9 points, and the is worth 9 points.
Original design: Kenny VenOsdel
Game development: P.D. Magnus
Playtesting: Jeff Warrender, Mike Pearsall, Dan Purdy, Quentin Hudspeth, Joe Joyce, Dennis Greci, Bryan MacIntyre, Andy Van Zandt