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Mascarade (2013) revisited.

i guess it's a given that because i'm passionate about poker that i would be passionate about this game. it's easily become my favorite tabletop game because of the blend of strategy mixed with high psychology.

i played the game for the first time in september and i liked it so much that i raved about it and decided to buy it. i brought it home for thanksgiving to introduce my family to it, and it was a big hit.

The analogy to poker is striking - i found myself "calculating odds" so to speak, and doing a lot of heavy people reading and situational reading. As a result, i won the second game because of my success of reading a situation correctly, and because my cousin angie gave away a tell.

The basic rules of the game go like this:

everyone starts off with 6 coins. the game is over when a) someone reaches 13 coins, b) someone reaches 10 coins and declares that they are the Cheat, or c) someone runs out of money, in which the player with the most coins at that point wins.

there are 13ish cards in the deck. there's a role on each card - king is +3 coins. queen is +2 coins. thief is "steal one coin from each player on either side of you." bishop is "steal 2 coins from the richest player." and so on.

everyone is dealt one face card face up. once everyone sees what everyone is, all of the cards get flipped over, face down.

Your move consists of one of three actions:

  1. Look at your card (because once it's flipped down, you can't look at your card again)
  2. Choose someone to swap your card with and either swap it or pretend to swap it.
  3. Declare what card you think you are. If no one challenges you, you get to do that action regardless of whether or not you are that card. If you do get challenged, then both players flip their cards over, and:
    • if you are indeed what you say that you were, you get to do the action, and the challenger throws one coin to the courthouse.
    • if you are not what you say you were and the challenger was (because technically the challenger is saying, "no you're not [blank], i am."), you throw one coin to the bank and the challenger immediately does the action.
    • if you are not what you say you are and neither is the challenger, you both throw one coin to the courthouse.

We were playing with six people. the order of play was: me, vince, dad, angie, larry, mom.

the important coin count to the situation was that I had 7 coins, Vince had 9 coins, and Angie had 10 coins.

Vince swapped cards with me. It was pretty clear that it was an actual Swap because he knew that i had the Judge card (take all of the coins from the courthouse, the courthouse currently had 4 coins) and he had the Cheat card which was useless to him because he didn't have 10 coins yet. So i knew it was highly likely that he took the Judge and gave me the Cheat.

My dad's move was something i forget. i think he declared and my mom challenged him.

Angie swapped with Vince. Neither Larry or my mom switched with Angie. it was now my turn.

i thought about Angie's swap. it didn't make sense for her to hold on to whatever card she had - i think because she didn't actually know what it was. i was certain that she did a real swap with V because she knew that he had the judge card. so i felt like i needed to swap with her to prevent her from winning the game, but my card *also* had the ability to make her win the game (the cheat, and she already had 10 coins). so it was a fifty-fifty shot of psychology - i swap with her or pretend to, then she knows that she has either the judge or the cheat, and coin-toss picks to win the game. I wanted to say but didn't because i didn't want to give that game away that both vince and my dad (who both were to my left and acted before angie) should swap with angie to prevent her from winning.

i was taking a while to decide what to do, and as a result, i started talking a bit about what was running through my head, and as a result of that, angie made the mistake of telling me that she didn't actually know what she was. i didn't think she was lying - angie didn't know the game well enough to be able to lie about it. she claimed that she didn't know that the swap between me and vince was obvious, and she didn't have memory of what caused that swap in the first place.

and that completely changed my strategy. switching with her was no longer the right move even a little because if she had any inkling that i had the cheat card and i actually swapped with her (turns out she didn't, but never mind), then she could win on the next turn. i ended up switching with my cousin-in-law larry, who i was pretty sure had the king card. i did a real swap. Vince ended up swapping with Angie, and i'm pretty sure he opted to take the judge card for himself. i don't remember what my dad or angie did, but once it got to Larry, he declared "i'm the king" and i challenged it, fairly confident that i had the king. i did, so i moved from 7 coins to 10, and then two turns later, i declared i was the king and won the game.

the extended fam is coming back today to have a late lunch celebrating my dad's 70th birthday (as well as other november birthdays in the family), so there's a good chance we'll play this again, although my cousins might bring some of other standards of the fam which includes Ticket To Ride, Blokus, and a few other things like that. We'll see what everyone is into, but i think people liked it enough that we'll probably play it again.

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