Boojum
Designed by Richard Morris
Players 3-6, probably best with 4 or 5
Length upwards of 45 minutes
Extra Material Boojum requires two Decktets (and with even more Decktets, even more players could join in), and enough suit tokens to allow each player to gain one of each. 42 would be a particularly good number. If the players’ memory is suspect, a bar of soap, or an equivalent object, may be used to track who is to bid first in the next auction. Extended Decktets can be used.

a sort of deck building auction game with set collection tendencies

Boojum is, well, a sort of deck building auction game with set collection tendencies and a hard to define attitude. Or something like that. Whatever it is, you can be sure you will be pretty snarked if you lose. You bid on groups of cards to gather the necessary combinations of cards to make different types of sets. So far, so good. However, in the absence of thimbles, care, forks and hope (not to mention butchers, bakers and beavers), all you have to bid with is the cards already in your hand, which you then lose, of course. But they can return back home to you - the cards that won the auctions in one round are topped up and become the subject of the auctions in the next round. Completed sets can be cashed in for suit tokens, and the aim is to complete a collection of one of each of the six suit tokens. The winner can then frabjously galumph off into the middle distance whilst the losers softly and suddenly vanish away.

Setup

Shuffle the Decktets together, and deal 5 cards to each player. Each round there will be one fewer auction than there are players, so create space for that number of auction slots. Deal two cards into each auction slots. Agree an auction slot ordering (typically left to right) as the groups of cards will be auctioned in turn. The player to the left of the dealer is the ‘first to bid’. Put the remaining cards into a draw stack with space for a discard pile next to it. Cards from set claims are put in the discard pile, and this should be shuffled to form a new draw stack when the draw stack is exhausted.

Game play

The game is played in rounds, with each round consisting of auction, build and claim phases, in a, b, c order.

The auction phase.
Turn the cards in all the auction slots face up, so players can make judgements on whether to bid on early slots or wait for later ones. Starting with the ‘first to bid’ player, players may bid for the group of cards in the first auction slot. When that auction has been completed, the player to the left of the winner of that auction becomes the ‘first to bid’ (if no one won the auction, the ‘first to bid’ player does not change), and the next auction slot is auctioned off. This continues until all the auction slots have been auctioned off.

Bidding is in play order, and on their turn players may either make a bid that is higher than the current bid (if any) or pass. Once they have passed they may not rejoin the bidding for that auction slot, but may bid for subsequent auction slots.

Players bid with cards from their hand, placing them face up in front of them for all to see. Once placed a card cannot be picked up again until the auction for that slot is over. The value of your bid is a combination of the number of cards and the pip count (Aces count 1, number cards count their rank, and Crowns count 10). The number of cards is the dominant factor in the bidding: a bid with more cards always beats a bid with fewer cards, whatever the pip count. Thus, for example, a bid of two Aces will beat a bid of one Crown. However, for bids with the same number of cards, the higher pip count wins. By convention, you should announce your bid by calling out the number of cards and total pip count, e.g “two for fourteen” if you bid a 6 and an 8. If your bid has been beaten, you may bid again when your turn comes around by adding one or more cards from your hand to your bid. Bidding continues until all players pass.

If all players passed on an auction slot, the cards should be returned to the same auction slot face down, ready for the next round. If a player won the auction, he should take the cards that were auctioned and place them face down in front of him. He may not look at the cards again during the auction round, and may not use those cards for bidding (but he may bid on subsequent auction slots using cards from his hand). He should take the cards from his successful bid, and place them face down in the auction slot, ready for the next round. All unsuccessful bidders should pick up the cards they bid and return them to their hands.

The build phase.
Deal one card onto each auction slot from the draw stack. Also deal a card face down to each player who failed to win any auctions in the auction phase. All players should pick up the face down card(s) in front of them (from winning auctions or just dealt to them) and place them in their hands.

The claim phase.
Players may claim suit tokens for completed sets of cards. If they do, the cards in the set should be placed in the discard pile. The player also receives a card from the draw stack for each set they claim, which they place in their hands, and may even use immediately for another claim. There is no sequence to claiming sets – players can claim in any order. When all players have finished making claims, the next round starts with the auction phase.

Different suit tokens require different types of sets, as follows:

Moons Token: moons.png
A 6-card straight (cards of consecutive rank with at least one suit in common).
OR
4 Aces of any Suit and 4 Crowns of any Suit
OR
A 6-card set (cards all of the same rank)Suns Token:suns.png
A 5-card straight
OR
A 5-card set
OR
An 8-card flush (Cards of any rank, including duplicates, with at least one suit in common)Waves Token:waves.png
A 4-card straight
OR
A 4-card set
OR
A 7-card flushLeaves Token:leaves.png
A group of any number of cards of any rank that between them have exactly twelve suit symbols, two of each type moons.pngsuns.pngwaves.pngleaves.pngwyrms.pngknots.pngmoons.pngsuns.pngwaves.pngleaves.pngwyrms.pngknots.png
OR
Any 6 location cards
OR
Any 6 people cards
OR
Any 6 event cardsWyrms Token:wyrms.png
3 location cards of the same suit
OR
3 people cards of the same suit
OR
3 event cards of the same suit
OR
3 location cards of consecutive rank
OR
3 people cards of consecutive rank
OR
3 event cards of consecutive rankKnots Token:knots.png
A group of any number of cards of any rank that between them have exactly six suit symbols, one of each type moons.pngsuns.pngwaves.pngleaves.pngwyrms.pngknots.png
OR
A 5-card run (cards of consecutive rank of any suit)
OR
A 5-card flushNote that for straights and runs, the cards do not 'wrap around'. Thus crown.pngA234 is NOT a 5-straight or 5-run.
((A PDF of a reference card with these sets is available. Click on 'Files', below))

The extended deck

You are encouraged to use extended deck cards. If the Excuse is used, it acts as a joker in any set – essentially it acts as a single card of any named rank/suit/interpretive type (location/people/event) and fills any gap (including those that may not actually exist, such as a rank 3 location or a rank 7 person). If the Excuse is used in auction bidding, it counts as two cards but zero pips.

If Pawns or Pawns and Courts are used, they fit in their normal sequence for runs and straights:
A23456789pawn.pngcourt.pngcrown.png.
For auction bidding pip counts they count 10 for Pawns and 11 for Courts, with Crown moving up to 11 or 12 as necessary.

Winning the Game

The game ends when a player completes his collection of all six suit tokens. The other players should be allowed to finish all their claims. If two or more people complete their suit token collection in the same round, then the tiebreaker is to consider the unused cards in their hands as if they were an auction bid, with the highest (number of cards, then pip count) winning. If two or more are equal, they are joint winners.

Variants

None as yet.

Credits

Links

Boojum at BoardGameGeek: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/79099/boojum

If you do not know where the Boojum name, or the various obscure references in the rules come from, then read the book: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/29888. Boojum was also the name I used for a postal games 'zine that I ran many years ago.

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