Here's some stuff I wrote while I was on the plane, for your deferred-viewing pleasure.
Journey to the airport was uneventful. Sat around at the gate, watching all the people standing in the queue, trying to see if there was anyone that I recognised and wondering why everyone queues for boarding. The plane's not going to leave until everyone's onboard, so there's really no point standing around for half an hour when you could be sat down, relaxed, in slightly wider chairs, with airport power sockets around, and no people trying to push past you or thrust their nether regions in your face while they put something in the overhead lockers. Even though I was at the gate when they started boarding, I was one of the last people onto the plane, and I was able to walk to my seat without stopping for anyone, put my bag under the seat and just sit down and strap in. Sorted.
I've spent some time on the flight playing with my deck of cards, as per the habit I am trying to develop (that is, the habit of playing with decks of cards on flights). While I know some card games, my goal is to develop new ideas - or at least, my own ideas, as I'd guess that most card games have already been invented somewhere in the world. Usually my games suffer from being overcomplicated, or requiring too much table space (as you don't get much on a seatback table), or not terminating, or having dominating strategies (such as the game I got my brother to playtest with me, that used the factorial-based scoring system; it was quite embarassing to be beaten by something like 10 to the power 12). This time, I think I've hit on something that works nicely, has some element of "strategy" (read: luck and gambling sense) without being too complex. I'm calling it "Chicken." It's a simple, single-player, get-the-highest-score game.
- Shuffle a 52-card deck.
- Assign yourself a score of 0.
- Deal four cards, face-up, side by side.
- "Dealing:" Deal another four cards, face-up, side-by-side, on top of the existing cards, spread downwards such that you can see the number values of all cards on the table.
- "Playing:" Examine the piles of cards. If there is a card in the pile with the same numeric value as the card most recently dealt to that pile, the two cards (and the cards between them) form a 'run' and can, if you wish, be removed from play, scored, and discarded. You do not have to take a run. In the event that three or four cards with matching numeric values appear in the same column, you may choose which card forms the beginning of the run, provided it is ended by the most recently dealt card.
- Gameplay continues, with the player Playing as many times as he wishes before Dealing again. The game continues until there are no cards left to be dealt and there are no more runs present on the table.
- "Scoring:" Given a run of cards, the endpoints of the run (cards with matching value) have their numeric value noted and then the cards are discarded. The remaining cards are counted. If there are any runs present in the remaining cards (regardless of the positions of the ends of the run) they are counted a second time, and this continues recursively such that 'nested' runs get counted repeatedly. Given the sequence of number values 1 3 6 5 7 5 3, the initial count would be 7, then the outermost run of 3-3 would add 6, then the next outermost run of 5-5 would add 3, so the total would be 16. Multiply the final value by the value of the original endpoint cards (counting A=1, J=11, Q=12, K=13) and add it to your score.
The idea is that when you see a run, you could take it, or you could deal again and hope that another run will form around the outside of it, making it worth more. When do you take the run and when do you leave it? There are multiple factors. What cards are present higher in the pile than the run? Are any of those numbers likely to show up again? Are they going to be high enough? (Better to take a run of 13s that only encloses 1 card and scores 13, than to build a run of 1s around it and only score 6). Perhaps one of the endpoints themselves will show up later, allowing you to extend the run? It's worth noting that the same value card on top of itself is a run that encloses no cards and so is worth nothing on its own, but encourages the player to build a run around it as it can earn them extra.
It still needs some balance. I've given it a couple of playtests; in the first game, I took every run whenever I could and ended up with a score of 182. In the second game I deliberately avoiding taking some runs, waiting for longer ones to build, and ended with a score of 301 (but with many more cards left over on the table). I think there's definitely some potential there.