|Designed by||Greg James|
|Players||2 or more|
|Ages||4 and up|
A "Go Fish" style Decktet game designed by and for younger players (or the young at heart). With more players and more decks, Jigger becomes the Decktet’s first party game.
Object of the game
To be the player at the end of the game with the most cards in your take.
The entire 45 card Decktet, one deck for every three players
Shuffle the cards and deal each player a 5 card hand. The remaining cards are placed face down between the players to form the draw pile. The youngest player goes first.
Each turn, the active player says “I demand …” and names a single suit that she thinks her opponents are holding. (For players unfamiliar with the Decktet, the suit colours may be used instead). Opponents who have cards bearing that suit in their hand must immediately surrender them all to the active player who places them in her take.
If an opponent(s) doesn’t have any cards of that suit, he calls out “Jigger!” and goes fishing for cards from the draw pile. He draws until he gets a card of the suit in demand and then surrenders it. All other cards drawn are kept. If more than one player calls “Jigger!”, then they draw from the deck in turn order.
Once all players have surrendered card(s) bearing the suit in demand, play then passes to the player on the demander’s left.
Cards in player’s takes are public information. Players may scan their opponent’s takes prior to making their demand, but actual card counting is discouraged.
Play continues in this fashion until the draw pile is empty. Note that a player’s turn may begin with them not holding any cards. That’s okay (provided there are still cards in the draw pile), because they will have to immediately draw when the opponent makes their demand. If the draw pile runs out while still trying to fulfill the demand, the game ends immediately. If the last card drawn fulfills the demand however, then there is still at least one more turn.
If you have The Excuse and the active player demands a suit which you don’t have, you must surrender it rather than draw more cards to fill your hand. If you have The Excuse in your take at the end of the game, it counts as a card in your take and can win you the game if there is a tie.
Endgame and Tiebreaker
At the end of the game, cards in player’s takes are tallied and the player with the most cards wins. If there is a tie, then whomever of the tied players has The Excuse in their take wins. If this is also a tie, then the tied player with the most cards in hand wins. If it is still tied, then the game is a draw.
The player to the left of the old Dealer deals the next hand.
If you are playing with a competitive bunch, then use tokens of some sort or a score sheet to keep track of games won. The first player to win a target number of games leaps up immediately and dances The Big Jig to taunt their opponents.
With more players and more decks, Jigger is the Decktet’s first party game. With 4-6 players add a second deck; with 7-9 add a third deck and get jiggy with it! If you have even more players and enough decks, add a deck for every three players and fill the room with joyous noise.
This game is obviously open to a range of different rules if you wish to spice it up and/or broaden its appeal for older players. Here are some you could try in addition to devising your own:
2 player handicap variant
If there is a great disparity in ages between the two players, then I suggest this handicap: The younger player’s cards are hidden from the older player by placing them face down or behind a screen of some sort. An old gatefold sleeve from a vinyl album would be perfect (e.g. the old Yes albums have great covers, but tastes vary); use whatever you have at hand. The older player’s take is still placed face up. When the youngster has a firm grasp of card counting and the memory component, then both takes can be placed face down for a more challenging game.
Staggered demand fulfillment
An Ace and/or Crown may be surrendered to fulfill a demand in lieu of double or triple suited cards in your hand. Likewise, a triple suited card may be withheld from a demand if you have at least one double suited card to surrender. If the active player demands a suit which you actually do have, you may give them The Excuse instead if you have it.
The scoring system can also be tinkered with to spice up the game for older players. In this variant, the object is to create sets/books of 4 cards in each suit. More than one book per suit can be scored. When the deck runs out, the player with the most books wins, with ties going to the player with the most cards in hand.
Note that a card in a player’s take contributes all of its suits to each set i.e. a Pawn or Court would score three times. The Excuse may be scored as a wild card of one suit.
Example: The Mountain 4, The Diplomat 8, The Pact 9 and The Harvest is actually 2 books: a 4 card book of Moons and a 4 card book of Suns. (The Harvest contributes to a Leaf set as well).
Tips for better play
Knowledge of the Decktet’s structure is helpful when formulating your demand. Repeated plays will help reveal the deck’s structure, but basically (and obviously) you want to avoid calling the same suit soon after someone else has. More subtly, you also want to avoid calling a suit that is often paired with the one just called. e.g. it’s usually a poor call to demand Suns after someone has just demanded Moons. Therefore, you will likely wish to call for antipathetic suit pairings. There are 3 pairings of suits where there is no overlap in the basic deck. i.e. after someone calls Moons, it is often a good call to demand Wyrms, because there are no cards which share these suits in the basic deck. Suns/Leaves and Waves/Knots are the other pairings.
The Decktet is not so easily solved, so this advice should be tempered by the actual flow of the game you are playing. My 10yo is a shrewd card counter and can often call the plumpest suit that the rest of us are holding and it does not always follow the pattern I have described above.
This is a great little game for teaching the basics of card playing with the Decktet to young children. Card counting, memory skills and the beginnings of a killer tactical instinct are honed through repeated plays. Over time, the structure of the Decktet and its implications for game play are revealed. This of course opens the door to meatier Decktet games and I suggest The Four Courts as the next step after this one to introduce the concept of set building. Gasp! is a fairly non-confrontational game which is a fun way to introduce trick taking concepts. When math skills can be done fairly quickly in the head, then move on to venerable Decktet games like Biscuit, Jacynth and Thricewise to name but three.
The design and playtesting of Jigger has been a family affair. My 5yo daughter came up with the basic “I Demand a suit” concept for the game. I pieced together the nuts and bolts of it and my 10yo helped to refine the game play to the present form. If you have young kids, this game makes a fine alternative to Quäsenbö. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.