Eleven+ is a game I made on a car trip. It requires no equipment, and so is easy to play on car trips, or in bars or restaurants. It is probably best with 3-5 players.

Eleven+ was inspired by the game Bartok: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartok_(card_game). In Bartok and related games players add rules to the game as it progresses, making it become more and more ornate over time. One of the charms of the game is that it becomes less and less about playing the game and more and more about your capability of following the rules without making a mistake. When Eleven+ was created I thought it might be fun to attach that principle to a simpler game, so I used the game “Eleven” which is a nim-style game. I was surprised that the simplicity and the determinism of the game made it more enjoyable, since the game was more focussed on the unique and fun elements of Bartok; navigating complex rules and adding new rules to the game.

Eleven: Players count from one to eleven, the player that hits eleven is eliminated – and the player to the eliminated player’s left starts the next game. Players can add one two, or three numbers to the count. Each game of Eleven has a loser, when only one player is left that player has won the round.

For example:
Alice: “1, 2″
Bill: “3″
Charlie: “4,5,6″
Alice: “7,8″
Bill: “9,10″
Charlie: “11″
Now Charlie is eliminated and it is Alice’s turn, with only Alice and Bill left.

Eleven+: Play eleven, and after each round the winner adds a new rule. Players are encouraged to identify problems that might come up during play because of the rule at this time; this feedback may lead to the rule maker clarifying the rule or ditching it in favor of another. The winner also begins the next game. In addition to being eliminated for saying “11″ a player is also eliminated for failing to follow the rules.

To illustrate the game I recorded the rules we used in a 4 person game on a recent car trip:

  • Once each game a player can halve an even number as a move (for example: “6, 3, 4″ would be legal provided no other player had used the half rule in the current game.)
  • Numbers on the licence plate in front of the car don’t exist (for example, if the car in front was license 348 YUY a legal move might be “2,5,6″.)
  • Start at 11 and go down to 1, the player that says “zero” loses.
  • Five doesn’t exist.
  • An animal is substituted for “10″. The animal must be different than one used by any player on the car trip.
  • You never say “11″, instead you say any other number that exists.
  • If a player makes only one move the next player must use more than one move.
  • Players must say “Tea for Two” rather than “2″.
  • All players use a second language for numbers.
  • If a player uses 3 moves the next player must say “slow down” before taking his or her turn.
  • If a player uses the “halving” special move listed above, the direction of play reverses. The direction is reset to normal in the next game.
  • If a player has to say “zero” he or she can instead read a word off a road sign. This restarts the current game, but this rule cannot be used in the restarted game.
  • Instead of saying “3″ a player must clap three times.
  • Instead of saying “1″ a player must use the color of the car in front. If there is no car in front “invisible” must be used.

I won’t even attempt to illustrate the above game being played, but rest assured that by the end few games were ending because a player reached 0!



6 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Duncan,

    This seems fun! I mean, one of the real advantages of, say, tic-tac-toe is it’s extreme speed and “portability”. I also really like the idea of taking old card games and redesigning them. So many of them have all this baggage associated with them, to the point where the fun bits have been buried under layers of minutia and former house rules. I know you mentioned a good book of card games in one of the podcasts (James Ernest?) but I’d love to get that recommendation again without re-listening to the archives.

    • We are actually considering doing a podcast entirely on game books! Books we may have mentioned are Gamut of Games by Sid Sackson, which contains games that interested Sid, some original, some not – as well as some of his thought and history with the game. Some other books I love are New Rules for Old Games by Wayne Shmittberger, and Abbott’s New Card Games. For traditional games with cards I would use http://www.pagat.com.

  2. Duncan,

    So, I tried this game again the other day, but we ran into the problems when my group started making up rules that reduced the number we were counting to. It was fine when people “played fair” and didn’t mess around with the number line (clap for 3s, etc) but when the rules became “Evens must add 2″ or whatever it became much easier to solve the game leading to a strategic collapse after a round or two. Thoughts or solutions to this problem? Adding restrictions to what the rules can do seems like one answer, but that’s less fun.

    • We didn’t give free reign to the rule maker, most of their rules were fine but occasionally one would be not fun or riddled with confusing cases. When we identified such rules ahead of time we would discuss them until we solved the problems that were seen. Sometimes we wouldn’t spot the problems till later then we would trouble shoot them as a group. Also, if the game gets too easy to solve, enough other crap will keep it complex enough that it is difficult to navigate. The game I list in the article was sometimes quite small (we never payed with 5′s, and sometimes 3 or 4 other numbers were missing because of the license plate clause), but we seldom made it to the end without a mistake.

  3. M.eve,

    Got a new one!

    - We are eliminated when we say 9.
    - If you say 1 and 8 in the same round, you win.
    - When there are only 2 players left, if you loose, you win…. (doesn’t include errors) So, at the very end, you want to say 9 for example!
    - Number 3 is replaced by Bob.
    - You have to say Zero before 1.
    - Number 7 is replaced by any color. Cannot say the same twice.
    - Zero is now replaced by Adrien (one of the player).
    - After a player said his numbers, he can say “it’s your turn”.. if he does, the next player has to repeat the last number/word said. Ex: “2,bob, it’s your turn…” “bob, 4″
    - You have to say “ehhhhm” before Zero. You cannot say “ehhhhm” at any other moment.
    - Number 1 is replaced by “is the most ______(adjective)”. One different adjective each time.

  4. This reminds me of the ‘backwards Scattegories’ game my parents used to play on long car trips.
    “Place Names”.
    Choose a letter from the alphabet.
    Now each player, in turn, nominates a known town/city whose name starts with the chosen letter. No player may use a location that has been named before. A player may eliminate themself if they cannot declare a new location. The last player left must name a final location and if they do so, then they choose the next starting letter.

    We used the maps produced by the state road authorities in NSW to determine what constituted valid locations.

    Can I recommend that “Q” is not a particularly easy letter and quickly leads to eliminations.

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