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El Chupacabra (a.k.a. “the goat-sucker”)

A green and very scary Chupacabra. Grrr.

I mentioned in a recent post that I was working on a push-your-luck dice game called “Danger Dice.” Well, the game has come a long way since then, and it’s been renamed El Chupacabra.

For those of you who don’t know what a Chupacabra is, Wikipedia defines the animal as a “legendary cryptid rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas. It is associated more recently with sightings of an allegedly unknown animal in Puerto Rico (where these sightings were first reported), Mexico, and the United States, especially in the latter’s Latin American communities. The name comes from the animal’s reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats.”

The idea behind El Chupacabra (the dice game, not the cryptozoological creature) is that you’re trying to relieve the other players of their chips / money. To this end, you try to stay in each hand as long as you can so as to earn the most points. If you stay in too long, however, you lose all the points you’ve earned that hand. So it’s a classic push-your-luck game at that level, but now there’s more to it than that.

What makes the game more interesting is the recent introduction of El Chupacabra, the goat-sucker. Each round (a round is made up of several hands) a number of cards is dealt out equal to the number of players at the table. One of the cards represents El Chupacabra.

So one of the players is El Chupacabra, but only that player knows who it is.

The goal of El Chupacabra is a little different: instead of trying to make the most points in a given round, he’s trying to make the fewest points. And he’s trying to do it without drawing too much attention to himself: if he’s successful in lowballing it without being accused of being El Chupacabra, then he gets all the points that the highest-scoring player would ordinarily get.

It’s kind of like shooting the moon in Hearts, though in my experience it’s a little trickier. You’re trying to do poorly without looking like you’re trying to do poorly, and that can be a hard thing to do.

To do poorly in a given round, you either have to duck out early (be overly risk-averse) or stay in too late (be too greedy). El Chupacabra does have several things going for him, however. First, all players have a bit of a motive to duck out early to try to grab the pot (created by each player’s ante at the beginning of each hand). Second, all players do, of course, want to try to earn as many points as possible (stay in each hand until the last possible moment). And finally, other players will often try to play in such a way as to draw accusations from their opponents since each false accusation is worth 20 chips. And 20 chips are not to be sneezed at.

What El Chupacabra does, in other words, is take Danger Dice and add a bluffing element. I’m still working out the details, but I think it’s much improved.

I’ll be sharing more info in the coming days, including a draft of the rules. I’d love it if someone wanted to give it a go and give me some feedback.

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