Do you know a version of the card game Big Two? Please leave a comment if you do.
To take some of the pressure off the relentless pace of the Serials on Thursdays, I'm adding Card Games as a flipside option for the Thursday slot. This will provide opportunities not only to learn and study different card games, but also to explore the design elements of games that run on the most ubiquitous games hardware on the planet: a deck of cards. Any game designer who has never designed a card game is a fraud! There, I said it...
The first game I want to look at is hugely popular in East and South East Asia, and particularly in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. The game is usually referred to as Big Two in English, or Choh Dai Di (or just Dai Di) in Cantonese, but as with all card games, names vary depending upon who you speak to. At heart, Big Two is a climbing or shedding game like Crazy Eights or the charmingly vulgar-titled game of Asshole, which is popular among students on many different continents.
Players are dealt thirteen cards, with the objective of getting rid of all the cards in a series of rounds. Each round is played either in singles (lone cards), pairs, triplets or in five-card poker hands, with a strict sequence specifying which cards (or combinations of cards) are higher than each other. Unusually for card games, the lowest card is a 3 (specifically, the 3 of Diamonds) and the highest card is a 2 (specifically, the 2 of Spades) - hence the name, Big Two (Dai Di).
I will be writing my own version of the rules in a future week, but anyone who can't wait can check the version of the rules I used to learn the game, which can be found here. My thanks to Matt Mower for bringing this game to my attention in the first place.
I would like to set the arbitrary goal of teaching at least a dozen people to play this delightfully evil card game, which although intended to be played by four players scales down to an excellent two player version. To begin with I must ask: does anybody already know this game?
Please leave a comment if you are already a Big Two/Choh Dai Di player. Thank you!