Monday, December 09, 2013

Game Week: Rage (Card Game)

Every Sunday, my wife and I meet another couple (plus my brother if he's in town) to sit down and play a bunch of card games.  We have a fairly stable group of games that we play:  Rage, Wizard, Loot, and May I? currently top the list of most played games.  In an effort to kick off Game Week here at Nachos Grande, I thought I'd take a look at my favorite of the four games mentioned above:  Rage.

Rage is a card game that used to be sold in big box stores (we got our copy at Wal*Mart a few years ago).  Unfortunately, I can't find an English language deck in stores anywhere anymore.  Even Amazon.com is tough - the only English deck I could find there was about $40.

For that reason, I would recommend the game that I linked to on the left - it's the German version but that's ok (you don't actually need to "read" anything on the cards anyhow).  In fact, the German version contains no writing on the cards, just colors, numbers, and symbols (all of which are universal)!

As for the game itself, Rage is most fun when you play with competitive people who all want to win (and don't mind screwing over their neighbor in the process).  I admit that this can lead to some dicey times in terms of husband/wife dynamics but all's fair in love, war, and cards - right?

The basics of the game are simple.  Each round you bet on the number of tricks that you will take (no partners).  There are six "suits" (different colors in this game) plus five special cards (Change Rage, Out Rage, Bonus Rage, Wild Rage, and Mad Rage).  The basic rules of the game are described here.  However, like many people who are serious about the games, our group has changed the rules of Rage to a much more fun, lively, and perhaps even "diabolical" game.

Here's how we play (we use the full deck with no changes in that regard - only the rules have changed).

Our "house rules" for Rage:

  • 13 Rounds of play.  The first round each player gets 1 card, the second round 2 cards, etc. until the final round where everyone gets 13 cards.
  • You bid based on the number of tricks you think you will take.  You then get one point for every trick you take plus ten bonus points if you made your bid exactly.  The one exception to this rule is that if you bid 0 you only get five bonus points (zero bids are the easiest to make - especially in the beginning portion of the game).
  • We made both the Bonus Rage and Mad Rage cards worth -5 points to whoever takes them in the trick.  This means being in first is precarious - and can lead to some pretty awesome finishes!
  • We play the Wild Rage is always the "16" of whatever color you name.  There are two Wild Rage cards in the deck - and if two happen to get played on the same turn the second Wild Rage wins.
  • We use the Change Rage as "player's choice" for what they want to call trump (must change off of the current color however).  This is consistent with the newer rules of Rage but not the original version.
  • Finally, when dealing - the dealer deals the appropriate number of cards for that round to each player and then takes the next card in the deck and turns it face up to determine trump.  If, by some lucky change, that card happens to be a black card (one of the special cards), the dealer sets that card aside for the moment and flips up the next card to determine trump.  Continue that process until a trump color is declared.  Then, the dealer gets to swap any (or all) of the removed special cards with cards in his or her hand.  The one catch here is that the dealer must show all players at the table which cards he or she discards (and of course, players also know which special cards have been put into the dealer's hand).  This change makes dealing take on a bit of a slot machine type excitement as there's always the chance you'll hit one or two special cards (or even three - that's happened a few times during our play sessions).
After 13 rounds of play are complete, the highest score wins!

It's a simple game (especially if you've ever played some other trick taking game) but it's also fun because trump can change on the fly (even in the middle of a single round of play).  For instance, if someone tries to "throw off" a high non-trump color but they are in the lead, if you have a Change Rage you can name their color trump and all of the sudden you've "screwed over" two people - the person trying to throw off their junk and the person who thought they'd win the trick originally!  

There's nothing quite like holding a hand of say 0, 1, and 3 of orange with your bid already made and having someone name orange trump...it'll definitely fill you with rage!

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