A Young Designer's First Game

It isn't easy for me to justify to the missus that Bryan and I play so many games. I try to use directed play as much as possible: pick a lesson, pick a game or make up a game that teaches that lesson.

Bryan is okay at math, but I think he needs a lot of practice in the basics. I decided to teach him BlackJack to help with quick counting skills (and a little bit of strategy and probability salted in, too).

He learned it relatively quickly, including "soft Aces", which is where an Ace is either a 1 or an 11 depending on what you need. Once we had played a few hands, he decided to make up his own variant. This is notable, because it is the first time that he was able to explain all of the rules for a game. Usually, his rules explanations are stream of consciousness that tends to include every cool thing he can think of at the time. His variant of 21 is called 33. It's actually pretty fun!

The Rules of Easy 33: (Uses a standard deck of 52 cards.)

I like this game a little bit more than BlackJack. The likelihood of someone automatically winning is extremely scarce. It would require them to be dealt 3 Aces. It's also interesting to me that this game makes the push your luck mechanism of 21 spread out over several turns, each player trying to improve their score and tempt their opponent to bust. I can see some cases where it needs work, though. For example, the rules don't consider what happens if everyone passes. Likely, the highest scoring player would win in that case. Also, drawing cards near the end seems somewhat automatic.

I decided to take his rules and try to make my own variant that is a lot harder.

The Rules of Hard 33: (Uses a standard deck of 52 cards, a score sheet, and 10 score tokens.)

In case you are wondering why 33 and not any other number, Bryan says, "Because it's my favorite number!"

So, what did we learn? I think Bryan learned a little about structuring a game beyond just "wouldn't it be cool if..." And I learned that instead of focusing on games that I can release as products, I should spend more time just working with him on his ideas. I will still make full games, but I think that it is important that I release mostly free games.