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End Times 2021: Joker Jailbreak

As 2021 is drawing to a close, JW and I decided to do another End Times countdown to the final day of December. For my part of the series, I went back to basics: simple games with cards. Not card games you can buy from your local store but games you can play with a poker deck, a tarot deck, or a decktet. Cheap, compact, portable. Even festive. (I don't know about you, but I have memories of spending New Year's Eve with family around a game of '31'.)

JW enjoys doing overviews and statistics, so I let him do his 'looking back' posts. The playing cards featured in the countdown come from his own collection. Perhaps we'll join forces for an end-of-the-year Grumpy, if we feel inspired. Quentin is coming back at full speed in January (not that he ever slowed down).

So, please join us for the countdown and let's dive in our first card game. 2022 is upon us and it seems promising. It's all in the cards, if you know how to read them.

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I'm a fool for easy and addictive solo playing card games, so I was overjoyed to come across one more to add to my repertoire. The Joker is the protagonist here, and he is imprisoned in a cell of cards. Your goal is to demolish at least one of the walls and let the silly guy out.

First, you build the prison. You place the Joker in the middle and then surround him with stacks of cards. Four stacks - North, South, East and West walls - consist of 6 face-down cards each. Then you add four more stacks of 2 face-down cards each in each corner. Finally, you reveal and place one card on top of every stack around the Joker, and you're good to go.

What you are trying to do is get rid of the wall cards by matching them with other cards of the opposite colour in the grid. For example, if the top card of a wall is a red 8, you will have to discard a black 8 from the prison or multiple black cards that add up to 8. In this manner, stacks will start getting thinner until one of them is empty. Corners are easy to eliminate but the Joker can't escape from there, and it's not to your advantage to run out of combo options. If you get stuck, you can draw up to three cards from the main deck to place on top of the Joker but you have to eventually rid of those too to let him out. (As you can see in the pic below, I failed).

Joker Jailbreak is fast and fun, something to play when you have 10 spare minutes and can't be bothered to set up a board game. Check out the playthrough by One Player if you want to see it in action. The deck I used is the 'Bee' playing cards by The United States Playing Card Company. Nothing fancy, but the card backs somewhat matched the prison cell theme in this case. Find a plain old deck and give it a try!

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