The Ell Deck (“Pickell”)

[Editior’s Note: It appears Debra was inspired by playing around with The Ell Deck, and came up with something herself. Not something we normally do, but this really does help showcase the versatility of The Ell Deck. -dc]

Game Design Experiment: Pickell

Soon after finishing my review for Wibbell, I had the idea for my own Ell Deck game, which I’m calling Pickell for now. I was inspired by the old Name That Tune gameshow, specifically the mini-game where players would challenge each other with how few notes they could use to guess the tune.

Version one: Pickell a card

I see this as being a 2 – 4 player game. Each player takes turns betting how long of a word that they could make from random cards. It would go like this: “I can pick a three letter word” / “I can pick a four letter word” / “I can pick a five letter word” / “Then pick it.” The player who was challenged then picks up that number of cards from the top of the deck, and must try to make a word using the letters on the cards. If they can successfully make a word as long as they predicted, they get the points that they “bet” (ex. 5 points for a five letter word). If they can’t do it, then the player who challenged gets the points. Another betting auction begins, with whoever won the previous round getting the first “bid”. Play can continue until the deck runs out, or until a certain point total is reached.

Version two: In a Pickell

This version also involves betting/bidding wars, but this time you are betting how many words you can find in a set of cards. Set up the game with a line of 5 cards in the center of the table, face down. Players take turns betting how many words they can make from the cards, until one player gets challenged. Once it’s decided how many words you are trying for, flip over the cards. You have 2 minutes to find words (you can write them down if you want). If you find as many words as you predicted, you get one point for every word. If you find words, but not as many as you predicted, the challenger gets one point for every word. But, if you can’t find any words at all (rare, but possible) you are “in a pickle” and you LOSE the number of points that you bet. If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of going into negative numbers, you can have each player start the game with 10 points to bet with. Again, you can choose to play until the deck runs out, or until a points cap is reached.

Word rules, for both versions

  • Minimum 3 letter word
  • For a more challenging game of In A Pickell, have max word length be 5 letters.
  • Plurals do not count as a new word
  • No proper names
  • No abbreviations 

I like the idea behind this game, because you have to find a balance between how well you can play, and how well you think you can play. There is a danger of being too ambitious. I also think that idea that you can’t choose if you are going to play, only whether your opponent will play, is an interesting twist. 

There’s still time to back the newest incarnation of the ELL Deck, featuring the game CATEGORICKELL, on Kickstarter until April 1, 2020.

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