Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Kakerlaken-Poker and Kakerlaken-Suppe

On Sat 19 Sep 2009 I played two quick and funny games with Chong Sean at Carcasean boardgame cafe while waiting for Han to arrive, Kakerlaken-Poker (Cockroach poker?) and Kakerlaken-Suppe (Cockroach soup?). They don't sound exactly appetising, but when you see their colourful and funny artwork, you'll realise they are light-hearted fun.

We played Kakerlaken-Suppe first. This is a reflex game, very ideal as a party game, and probably will be very noisy too. Cards are distributed evenly to all players, and whoever gets rid of his or her cards first wins. On your turn, you take one card from your deck, turn it over and put it at the centre of the table. Then you say the name of the vegetable shown on the card. However, if the previous card(s) showing has the same vegetable, you can't say the name of that vegetable, and must say the name of another one. Also, you can't say the name of the vegetable that the previous player has just said. The previous player may have said a name that didn't match the previous card played (e.g. because it was the same vegetable that his previous player had named). If you are lost for words, or say the wrong thing, you are penalised and must collect all the cards at the centre of the table. Then you start another round.

There's more. There are some soup-tasting cards. When these cards turn up, you say "Slurp!". These cards show one of the four vegetables. Once one of these soup-tasting cards are in play, whenever that vegetable shows up, you must say "Slurp!" instead of the name of the vegetable. Remember the rule that you can't say the same thing as the previous player? If he has said "Slurp!", whether due to the soup-tasting card or a vegeable matching the previously played soup-tasting card, you must say "Mmmm!" (i.e. the cockroach soup tastes so good).

The four types of vegetable cards - carrot, pepper, leek and mushroom, and two of the soup-tasting card.

So the whole game is about making sure you say the right thing - pepper, mushroom, leek, carrot, Slurp!, or Mmmm!, while remembering all the rules and exceptions and exceptions to exceptions. Play it very quick, and someone is bound to make a mistake.

This is a party game like Halli Galli, and I think it's a bit tricker, because you have to say something (and make sure you say the right thing) rather than just hitting the bell. This is probably pretty good with children and with new players / casual players.

Kakerlaken-Poker is by the same designer, with similar artwork, but it is quite a different game. And it's nothing like poker, other than that you need to keep a poker face. This game is probably best played with a larger group. Chong Sean and I played a 2P game, which was still alright, but probably not as funny as (and I do mean "as funny as", not "as much fun as") a 4P or more game.

In this game, there is only one loser and the rest are all winners. The moment someone collects 4 pests of the same type, he loses and the game ends (and he does something silly or embarrassing or illegal if your group had agreed on some penalty beforehand). A player starts a round by passing one card to the player on his left, and declares what type of card it is. He can lie if he wants to. The player receiving the card can decide to challenge or to pass on the card. If he decides to challenge, he makes a guess on whether the previous player has lied, and then flips over the card. If he is right, the first player takes the card and puts it in front of himself face-up. If he is wrong, he takes the card himself. If the receiving player decides to pass the card on, he looks at the card before passing it on. He can declare the card to be what the previous player has claimed it is, or declare it to be something else. Then the next receiving player has to decide what to do - to challenge or to pass on the card. This continues until someone issues a challenge resulting in someone taking the card, or until the card reaches the last player. At this time the last player must challenge, since he is not allowed to pass the card back to the start player.

So this game as all about lying and tricking your opponents into taking unwanted pests. When you lie, you want to do it so convincingly that your opponent will believe you. When you tell the truth, you want to do it in such a way that others won't believe you.

6 of the 8 types of pests in Kakerlaken-Poker - bat, cockroach, stink bug, fly, toad, rat.

In our 2P game, there are some special rules. And of course there is no card passing at all. When I give a card to Chong Sean, he must challenge me immediately, and vice versa. So it all comes down to who is the better liar (or guesser). As I played the game, I found that there is another layer to it, in how to pick a card to play, and what to lie about when you do want to lie. There is also some thought when you challenge a card passed to you. If you already have many toad cards, and the guy giving the card to you says it's a toad, it may be better to say you believe it, because if you don't, and it turns out to be a toad afterall, then you'd have to take it, which is bad for you. You can also observe what pests the other players are afraid of, and pick your cards (and your lies) accordingly. So the game isn't as simple or thoughtless as one may initially be lead to believe. But of course you can play it mindlessly if you want, and this is probably how you should play it when in a party environment. This is a laughter-generating game.

One thing that I really like about both Kakerlaken-Poker and Kakerlaken-Suppe is the artwork. I think it's excellent.

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