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End Times 2021: The Shooting Party

I imagine it must be hard for designers to infuse theme into a solitaire/patience variant. These are, after all, games that rely on numbers, two contrasting colours, and just four triplets of people in the court cards. The Shooting Party is a simple game that uses almost half a deck of playing cards, and yet manages to feel lively and bubbly, provided you view the cards as the designer instructs you to.

We are in the midst of a high class soirée, a party which you have somehow managed to be a guest of. You're not there for the snacks and the champagne, however. Your intentions are evil. Four ladies are attending, and all of them wear expensive pieces of jewelry. That's what you're after. And you're going to get the jewels by seducing each of these ladies, unless their husbands or the husbands' secretaries ruin your plans.

To play the game, you first take all the cards numbered 6-10 out of the deck. Then, you shuffle the rest of the cards and draw four. Matching numbers or matching suits form pairs and get discarded: these are guests that get out of your way. Eventually, one of the ladies shows up. If you can get her to be alone, you save her card aside for scoring. If you have also found her matching ace -her jewelry- you are one lucky bastard. If the King of her suit appears at the same time though, it means her husband came in the room and immediately took her away from prying eyes. If the King shows up at the same time as the Jack of the same suit, they leave together - he prefers to discuss with his secretary. When two ladies arrive at the same time, one of them leaves (is discarded): she doesn't like the competition. The Joker (the butler) is your ally: you can use him to fetch any card from the discard pile - including one of the ladies - or an ace from the draw deck.

When the draw pile is exhausted for the third time, or you managed to seduce all the ladies, the game ends and you count the number of jewels you managed to pocket. As you can tell, the strength of this game lies not so much in the mechanics but in the atmosphere of intrigue that you may build in your head while playing. There's not much you can do to manipulate the deck, so it's a game to play more as an idle pastime, something non-thinky and quick. You have three tries to find all the ladies and their jewels (three shuffles of the deck), and if you lose you can start over in seconds.

The deck I used is an advertisement of a Dutch political party - they were giving the playing cards to passers-by for free back when I was living in Leiden. I chose it in part because the figures look lovely and in part to annoy JW because it's a party he doesn't support.

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