Vamp on the Batwalk
The premise of Vamp on the Batwalk is that players are all cool-looking vampires who are competing in a fashion show. As we've come to know from movie-lore, vampires don't cast reflections in a mirror... That means that, as a vampire, you can see how cool other vampires look but you can't see how great you look yourself.
This conceit is the unlikely set up for a quick and easy-to-play trick-taking card game where the twist is that the 2-6 players all hold their hands of cards facing away from them, like cards in Hanabi (Abacusspiele). So in Vamp on the Batwalk, you are trying to win tricks but you can only see the backs of your own cards.
Of course, you're not playing completely blind. The backs of your cards show what colours (suits) they are, and tho' you can't see the values of each of your cards you can narrow the odds of what values each card might have because you can see all the cards that the other players are holding. Each suit comprises 7 cards: cards numbered 1-5, a star card and a garlic card, and players always play with a hand of 5 cards. The number of suits used in a game is equal to the number of players, except that if you only have two players you use three suits and play with an open (face up) dummy hand.
Jon Simantov's game design gives players more agency and choice than in the majority of trick-taking games. In Vamp on the Batwalk, you don't have to follow suit. If the card you play is a different suit but the same number as the currently winning card, then the suit changes so that your card now leads. The star and garlic cards introduce a rock/scissors/paper mechanic: star cards beat all the number cards, regardless of suit. Garlic cards are beaten by all number cards except that they override any star cards played that trick and become the highest card.
This all makes for a light, fun game. The luck of the draw can mean that all cards from a suit could be in play - giving perfect information to a player left with just one card in that suit - and, for the most part, the way in which the suit can be changed mid-trick can lead to some chaotic games, especially if you're playing with a high player count. And you can expect a lot of switcheroos mid-trick because every successful change of suit earns that player a bonus point - so just as much as winning the trick.
With art by Mike Rankin, Jellyfish Game Studios have done a great job in the production of this game, including sturdy tarot-sized cards and standees used solely for scoring (the game's box transforms into a vampire catwalk along which you advance your standee for every point scored).
Tho' the Vamp on the Batwalk is notionally for up to six players, the Kickstarter edition shown here on Board's Eye View came with 10 standees and cards in 10 suits, so is playable with up to 10 players(!)
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