Uncontrolled Squid

Release Date: 
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (experienced): 

by Jonathan Leistiko

Object

Establish your supremacy over all other squid cults by retaining the favor of the Squid Totem for three rounds.

You Need

  • A Squid Totem (We used a plush orange squid.)
  • A poker deck for every four players

Setting Up

Put the Squid Totem in the middle of the table.
Remove the Jokers from the deck. Seperate the deck into suits. Give one suit to each player. Keep your cards in your hand until you play them. You may not show the cards in your hand to the other players.
Divide into two equal teams. We usually play girls vs. boys, but do what works for you.

Play

At the start of a round, play a card face-down in front of you. You may not discuss the card you play with your teammates. When all players have played a card, turn them over. The player with the highest card (Aces high, deuces low) gets the Squid Totem. If there’s a tie for highest card, the player with the lowest card gets the Squid Totem. If all players are tied, the Squid Totem is uncontrolled and goes to the center of the table.

Put the card you played face-down in your personal discard pile.

The team with the Squid Totem at the end of a round gets a point. If no one controls the Squid Totem, the Squid Totem gets a point and both teams lose all points.

If all cards have been played, the game ends.

Winning

If a team has three points at the end of a round, that team wins.

If the Squid Totem has three points at the end of a round, the Squid Totem wins. The Squid Totem also wins if no team has won at the end of the game.

Variants

You should not play with all of the following variants at the same time, but playing with several simultaneously is just fine. I consider Recalcitrant Squid + Betrayer to be the “pro” version of the game.

The Wrath of Squid
If the Squid Totem is uncontrolled at the start of a round, all players must discard a randomly-selected card.

Appeasement Sacrifice
If the Squid Totem is uncontrolled at the start of a round, each team must choose one player to discard a randomly selected card.

Squid Madness
If the Squid Totem is uncontrolled at the start of a round, each player must play a randomly-selected card instead of choosing what card to play.

Recalcitrant Squid
Shuffle one suit of cards for the Squid Totem and set it aside face-down. If the Squid Totem is uncontrolled at the start of a round, play a number of cards from the Squid Totem’s deck equal to the number of players on a team. If the Squid Totem wins, or the high and low cards are tied, it remains uncontrolled. If this causes the Squid Totem to get its third point, it wins the game. If the Squid Totem’s deck ever runs out of cards, reshuffle its discards to form a new Squid Totem deck.

The Price Of Power
The player who controls the Squid Totem at the start of a round must play a randomly-selected card instead of choosing what card to play.

Squid’s Blessing
The player who controls the Squid Totem at the start of a round may “bless” another player. That player must play a randomly-selected card instead of choosing what card to play.

Betrayer
You win the game (Not your team. Just you.) if the game ends because all players have run out of cards, no team has three points, and you control the Squid Totem.

Origin and Credits

While reading Interactive Storytelling, by Andrew Glassner, I was struck by an idea for a card game that used possession of a “ball” as the determing factor for point distribution. After a little bit of refinement (and borrowing an inverted verion of a mechanic from the traditional card game Raj), it turned into Ten Ball. From initial conception to its first playtest form, it took about 48 hours.

When I presented Ten Ball to the Monday Night Games Night crew for playtesting, I had the deck dealt at random to all players. It rapidly became clear that this was unacceptable, so I stole the, “split the deck into suits,” mechanic from Raj also. It may not be very original, but the game is a lot more fun to play this way. That was when the squid theme was grafted onto the game. You see, the only convenient totem was a plush, stuffed squid. It made a great totem.

Thanks to Kori Blankenship, Jon Camfield, Mike Cotton, Amanda Ray, J. P. Rodman, and The One and Only Royal Bananafish of the Monday Night Games Night crew for playtesting.

While scouring the web for pictures of squids to use for the banner, I found an article about vampire squids with bioluminescent tentacle tips and and ink that live 600m off the coast of Monterey Bay, CA. . Sounds wierd, but there are pictures and a movie

"Yeah, yeah. Achoo shoe toboggan." – What Jonathan has to say about games that are Ct'hulu-themed just so they can get an audience.

Unedited as of July 4th, 2005.

Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Minimum Age: 
7
Game Type/Context: 
Price: 
$0(USD)