Rotation Poker

While physically-distancing during the quarantimes, I’m spending most of my time at home.  I’m trying to keep a healthy balance between work (before dinner) and recreation time (after dinner), and have been spending a lot of my recreation time playing video games.  I have also intended on designing some new games as well, but hadn’t quite made time for that activity yet, or so I thought.  Apparently, my subconscious has been hard at work designing a new game, unbeknownst to me.  Let me explain…

For the past month or so, I’ve more often than not spent some or all of my evening recreation time playing MTG Arena (Magic: The Gathering Arena, or hereafter MTGA).  It is the second of Wizards of the Coast‘s digital Magic: The Gathering (MTG) offerings, after Magic Online before it.  MTGA was effectively Wizards’ answer to Blizzard‘s Hearthstone, as both Hearthstone and MTGA have a very similar UX/UI look and feel to them.  When Hearthstone came out, it was much more user friendly than Magic Online and was packed with flashy graphical animations.  Playing MTGA most evenings, I’ve now been playing consistently through one card set release, and when a new set of cards is released, a very good way to rapidly build up your card collection is by playing booster drafts as you get to keep your drafted cards and can win additional booster packs as prizes.

The way booster draft tournaments work is that you are given 3 booster packs of cards upon entering the tournament.  All players in the tournament open their first pack, select a card to keep from it, and then pass the remainder of that pack to the next player, with all players being oriented in a big circle.  Each player then selects a card from the cards that were passed to them, and then again passes those remaining cards onward.  This continues until  all of the cards have been selected, and then the process repeats two more times for each of the other two booster packs.  So needless to say, I’ve been selecting and passing in rotation a lot of cards lately.

Then the other night I had a dream.

In this dream, I was playing a game of poker with some unknown opponents.  I’m not sure if my opponents were physically present or elsewhere somehow, but I definitely had physical cards, and we were definitely playing poker.  The game was being played with a standard deck of 52 playing cards, and we were attempting to make poker hands.  The interesting thing about this game though, was that there were three piles of face-up cards in the middle of the table to draw from, and if you drew a card, you also had to discard a card, and then all of the players were passing their discard pile to the next player.  When you received a pile of discarded cards, you were then able to draw from that pile as well as the three piles in the center.

Fortunately, something woke me up while I was in this part of the dream and thought this seemed like a really interesting game, so I should write down as much of it as I could remember and then review my notes the next day to determine if the game was actually playable or not.  So I grabbed my phone and jotted down my notes on as much of the game as I could remember and then went back to sleep.

The next day I reviewed my notes and more or less had a complete game.  I formally wrote the game out from my notes, did a few rounds of play-testing as best I could alone at home, and then had some gamer friends take a look at the game rules and provide some feedback.  I didn’t need to really adjust too much beyond what I had in my notes, and more or less had a fully functional new poker variant straight from my dream.  I also did some cursory Internet searches to see if anything like this variant already existed, and was not able to find anything similar.

So with that, dear reader, I give to you Rotation Poker, a new poker variant straight from my subconscious.  Perhaps my subconscious now needs a nom de plume under which to publish new games it comes up with.

You may find the official rules in the Game Design section of my personal website.

If you’re interested in custom draw and discard trays for Rotation Poker, the lovely and talented artist Tabatha Wilson is creating custom laser-cut tray designs for Rotation Poker card trays.  You can find these coming soon and other laser-cut items in her Etsy shop, Hot Spot Laser Shop.

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