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Update on El Chupacabra: now called “Horsefeathers”

Okay, so I’ve gone back to the drawing board on El Chupacabra, have stripped it down to its essentials, have taken out all the fluff and the fussy bits, and have renamed it “Horsefeathers.” I’m not sure I’m happy with the name, but it’s the best I’ve come up with so far. Anyway, the reworked design is beginning to have legs of its own.

The idea now is simple: players take turns rolling one die and adding it to the center of the table. Like numbers are always grouped with like. If there’s just one of a given number in the center, it is referred to as a single; if there are two of a given number, they are referred to as a double; and there can never be three of a given number in the center of the board.

What this means is that if you roll a 5 when there are already two 5s out there, you cannot call it a 5. You have to call it something else.  You have to lie.

A game consists of a number of rounds.  Players ante at the beginning of each round, and they must also “pay to play” anytime it’s their turn. On their turn, they roll one die. They keep it hidden under a dice cup, so that only they can see what it is, and then they announce its value to the other players.

The player might be bluffing or might be telling the truth; others might call them out (by yelling “horsefeathers”) or might let the announced roll stand. If the announced roll is not challenged, or if the player announced the true number of the die, it is put in the center of the board as it was announced to be. If the player was bluffing and someone called them out, then (a) the player who rolled the die is out of the round and (b) the die is not added to the dice in the center of the table.

If the player who rolled tells the truth and is challenged, on the other hand, then the challenger is out of the round.

How about an example?  Let’s say there’s a 1, two 3s, a 5, and two 6s in the center.  You roll a 6.  You can’t call it a 6, and you can’t call it a 3, but you could call it a 1, a 2, a 4, or a 5.  If you call it a 1 or a 5, then you’d be creating another double on the table — this’ll make it harder for your opponents to roll something they can announce truthfully.  If you call it a 2 or a 4, on the other hand, you’re just adding a third single.  Since you’ll be bluffing either way, which do you choose?  Which is less likely to be called out?

There’s another rule to be aware of:  if you are the first person to add a die to the center of the board such that there is at least a single of every number 1-6, you get to take 10 chips from the pot.

Let’s change the example above so that there’s also a 4 in the center of the table.  You roll a 6.  You can’t call it a 6 or a 3.  If you call it a 1, a 4, or a 5, you’ll be creating a third double in the center of the table; if you call it a 2, you take 10 chips out of the pot.  Now which is less likely to be called out?

Another thing:  players are under no obligation to tell the truth, even if they aren’t forced to lie.  So in the last example (the one with the added 4 in the center), what if you roll a 5?  You can tell the truth and create a third double, or you can call it a 2 and try to get 10 chips.  What if you roll a 2?  Do you take the chips, or do you create a third double to put pressure on your opponents?

The round continues like this until just one player remains.  That player gets all the chips in the pot.

A new round is started and play continues until either one player is out of chips or everyone decides to quit.  Then the chips are counted, and the player with the most chips is the winner.

If you want a more detailed and printable version of the rules, they will soon be available on the horsefeathers page.

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