A Clutch of Card Games 2

Pevans reviews card game Blindside

Another game from Hangman is Blindside. This is a Nomination Whist variant that is played with an odd deck of cards. The deck contains the four regular suits, but each has 2 Kings, 2 Queens and 3 Jacks, 3 '10's and 3 '9's. There are also four jokers, which count as the highest trump. At the end of each hand, the players score a point for each trick made, with a bonus of ten if you make exactly as many tricks as you bid. If you bid zero and made no tricks, you score 20 points - which makes zero ver valuable. The game ends when any player reaches 77 points at the end of a hand: the player with the most points wins.

The game is for four players only and each hand starts with dealing out the entire deck. Having got their hand of 14 cards, each player uses one card as a bid for the trump suit. These are played face down and then revealed. If one suit has more cards than any other (jokers are No Trumps), this suit becomes trumps for the hand. If not, the hand is played as No Trumps. There is a clear trade-off here between getting the suit you want as trumps and retaining as many cards as possible in the suit. However, it can also be a useful way of reducing your holding in a particular suit. Or even throwing away a high card that would otherwise win a trick, if you are going to bid zero tricks.

Once the trump suit has been determined, each player, starting to the left of dealer, states how many tricks they expect to take. This gives an interesting advantage to the dealer. As the last player to bid, s/he knows what the other players are up to and can calculate his/her bid appropriately.

Now we get to actually playing out the hand. Normal Whist rules apply: players follow suit, may trump or discard if they don't have cards in the suit led and high card or trump wins. There are a few variations. First, jokers can be played at any time, even if you could follow suit. Second, the final card of a value beats its predecessors. Thus if I lead a 9, it is beaten by Russell playing a 10, which is beaten by a 10 from Mark, but Jennie can win the trick with just the third 10. This again gives an advantage to the last player - in this case in each trick.

The distribution of the cards makes it hard to evaluate what a hand is worth, so my experience is that players spend most of the time missing their bids. The presence of the jokers also makes a difference. As outright trick winners they will be played when they make a difference - which often means they come out on the last few tricks. This gives players an incentive to use their other high cards sooner rather than risk having them beaten by a joker later on. I am sure there are other tactical nuances too, but this is a game I have yet to get to grips with and I don't find it interesting enough to commit the time to doing so.

Overall, it is an okay little filler - and a game I would have expected to come from Germany, where there are so many Whist variant games. It is just not interesting enough to make me want to play it. The most obvious difference with a German game is the basic quality of the production (which it shares with Just Wait from the same designer and publisher). However, the main drawback to the game is that it is for exactly four players.

Blindside was designed by Alan D Ernstein and published (in the USA) by Hangman Games. It is for 4 players and takes 30 minutes to play. Pevans rates it 6/10.
This review was originally published in Games Games Games 146, August 2000.

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