While I frequently host big game night, I also really enjoy spending some quality one-on-one time with my friends and family. It is not too difficult to find game for four, ten, or even more players nowadays, but good two player games are a little harder to come by. So naturally I was ecstatic when I discovered Dead Man’s Draw by Mayday Games and Stardock Entertainment; an easy to learn, quick to play card game for as many as four people, but still plays great with only two.
The game is played with a simple deck of cards that contains ten different suits. There are six of each suit numbered, with printed values two to seven, which indicates how much they are worth when scored at the end of the game. To set the game up, you simply remove the number two card and set them aside as the discard pile, and shuffle the remaining cards as the draw pile. After the players decide who will play first, the game begins.
On your turn, you must draw a card from the top of the deck and place it face up in the center of the table. Depending on the suit revealed the player will perform a simple action. We’ll get into that in a little bit. Trust me.
After resolving the action, the player must choose to either draw another card placing it face up in the center of the table next to the previous one, or keep all the cards they have draw. You will be tempted to keep drawing after the first, second or even third card, and you may if you like; but if at any point you draw a card that shares the same suit as one you have already drawn that turn, you bust and all the cards are discarded and you get nothing. Don’t let greed get the best of you. Stop while you are ahead — but maybe just one more card.
As mention, each suit has a unique action that must be resolved when played, for example: when you play an Oracle you get to look at the top card of the draw pile, giving you some insight into whether or not you should draw it. The Anchor will actually protect all the cards played before it if you bust, allowing you to draw more cards a little more confidently. Not all cards are so kind, such as the Kraken which forces you to draw two additional card, or the Sword which allows you to take cards from your opponent.
The game ends after the last card is drawn from the draw pile, at which point each player tallies their score and determines a winner. One of the interesting aspects of scoring is that you only count the highest number card in each of your suits, so having high number cards in multiple suits is generally better than having more cards of a single suit or more cards in general.
Due to its simplicity it is easy for me to recommend this game to nearly anyone, and I do. Young and old, new or seasoned, people of all types can easily pick up and play this game. I am also thrilled by the fact that they are publishing a deluxe edition of Dead Man’s Draw called Captain Carcass that will feature brand new art, characters for advanced play, and a tin box for storage. So check it out, and tell us what your favorite suit is and why.
Feature Image Credit: Mayday Games