Welcome to the first edition of Jocu Game Night! We will be sharing with you how to play our favourite card games and how to pair them with your favourite Jocu decks.
We kick things off with Blitz, a fast-paced and easier-to-learn game great for all ages which requires just one deck and a few coins or tokens to keep tracking of players’ lives. It’s one of Jocu designer Alessandra’s family favourites growing up in Italy, but is relatively well-known across the world by various names.
Finally, you can put all those collectible coins from various Kickstarter campaigns to good use and finally convince your partner they had a purpose after all 🙂
Enjoy! And let us know what you think in the comments.
If you like the sound of the game, grab your favourite deck and give it a try on your next game night!
Deck of the Night – Essential Calendula
You need a easy-to-read worker deck for this kind of game, especially if involving all the family. Any classic deck would be great, and we chose Essential as it contrasts nicely with my new close-up pad-slash-gaming surface and has just enough unique touches to introduce it into game night without taking the focus off the most important thing – winning!
What you need
- 1x Essential Calendula Deck (or any 52-card deck of cards)
- 3x Coins or tokens for each player
- Remove the jokers!
Blitz is a fun, fast and easy-to-learn game that’s great for all ages. The principal goal of each round is to try and collect 3 cards of a single suit worth 31 points, or as close to is as you can get. It doesn’t take long to pick up but is actually quite strategic – you need to keep an eye on what cards your opponents are drawing and discarding whilst also racing the clock. After all – it’s inevitable that someone will reach 31 points quite quickly, or at least close enough to knock and force a show of hands
Anywhere from 2-10 players can participate, but the game is believed to be optimal with around 3-5 players.
Cards and Values
Use a standard 52-card poker deck. For tonight’s game we’ll be using Essential Calendula. Aces are worth 11 points, Kings, Queens and Jacks are worth 10 points, and all other face cards are worth their numerical value.
Each player’s hand is made up of three cards, no more and no less.
Each hand is valued by adding up the cards held in any one suit. So pick a suit and stick to it, as there won’t be much time for indecisiveness! If you have three cards of the same suit, you can count all three. Your maximum hand score is therefore 31 points for an Ace and two court cards or a ten.
If you only hold two cards of the same suit, you can only count those towards your score, and must aim to draw replacement cards in the suit you are collecting to build the strongest hand possible.
If you have three different suits the your hand value is that of the highest card in it.
The aim of the game is to get a hand as close to a score of 31 as possible before all the other players, and before someone ‘knocks’ and forces a showdown.
The dealer can be chosen however you like, and the each player takes turns dealing passing the deck clockwise after each hand.
When the hand is over and a winner is declared, the deck is passed to the next dealer and shuffled. Each player is dealt a hand of three cards in the normal way.
The deck is placed aside in reach of all players, and the top card is turned over face up to form a discard pile.
The player to dealer’s left begins and play goes clockwise around the table. A turn consists of:
- Player drawing from the stock pile or discard pile
- Player discarding one card to ensure they remain with three cards
Players cannot choose the card on top of the discard pile and then discard it, thus keeping the state of play the same. They must take either the stock card or the discard card. To leave your hand unchanged, draw from the stock pile and discard it.
At the start of their turn, if a player believes that their hand is currently the best one or it is a tactically good moment to act, they may knock instead of drawing a card. This locks their hand and it can now not be changed.
All players now get one more turn where they can continue as normal. It is their final turn, so they must make it count!
After the last player before the knocker has completed their turn, all players show their hands. Each one totals up their score as above.
The player with the lowest score loses a life and throws one of their coins into the middle or away from play. (We use a glass or small tray to collect dead coins).
If there is a tie which involves the knocker, the knocker is safe.
If the knocker has the lowest score, they lose two lives.
If there is a tie for lowest, than all those players lose a life.
If at any point after a drawing a player achieves a hand value of 31 they must immediately show their cards and take the win. All other players immediately lose a life. This also occurs if a player has already knocked and in this case the player with 31 wins and all other players lose a life, including the knocker.
The same happens if a player is dealt a hand of 31 points at the beginning, it is a valid win.
On the other hand, if a player is dealt or receives 31 and does not declare it, their Ace becomes worth only 10 to them, effectively giving them a hand value of 30 should a showdown occur. They will lose a life to another with 31 and will only have 30 in a showdown. This shouldn’t happen – so pay attention!
Running Out of Cards
If this should happen, and it’s only likely when playing with 5 players or more, play continues until no-one is interested in drawing from the top of the discard pile. The first player who cannot act
Players start with three lives and lose them in various ways at the end of each round as described above. When a life is lost, throw one of your coins into the pot in the middle of the table.
If you have no lives left, you are ‘dead’. In the English versions of this game, you are considered ‘in poverty’ and the next life you lose will knock you out of the game.
However, and this is far cuter, in Italy when you are ‘dead’ you are a ghost. ‘Alive’ players should cease to talk with ghosts and avoid doing so whilst ghosts should try and trick the alive players into talking to them. Ghosts can continue to play until they lose one more life, but they can also steal a life from another player under one condition – if that player forgets that they are a ghost and accidentally talks to them.
Ghosts can talk amongst themselves freely.
This is only a cute family variation, but it’s quite fun and prevents people being knocked out from play too early and being unable to participate. So do what you like with that!
The game is great for casual party groups and family gatherings, being easy to pick up, easy-going and fun for all ages (especially with ghosts!). It could absolutely be turned into a drinking game (but I wouldn’t know anything about that…) and has quickly become a go-to party game in our house.
If you enjoy it, let us know in the comments and share your thoughts on any variations! And don’t forget to take some snaps of your deck choice for Blitz, as that’s what we’re really interested in 🙂
Have a great Game Night everyone and we’ll see you for the next one!
Do you play this game already? What do you call it in your country? And do you have any recommended variations on the rules? Let us know below!
- To pick up Essential Calendula, click here!
- To subscribe and get every chapter of Game Night sent to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this page
- Did you know that Essential was created for our Inner Circle subscribers? Receive our most exclusive decks in a quarterly package and get a year-round discount off our entire store: www.innercircle.jocu.cards
This Post Has One Comment
I actually just used the Essentials Calendula deck that arrived on Monday, to teach the whole family ’31’ as this game is called at my home. I played it a lot throughout my youth with friends and also praised it as quick and easy to learn. Everyone from age 11 to 42 agreed. I love the variation with the ghosts, I am sure our next round will be a bit spookier than the last.
One variation on the mode of drawing is employed here: In the middle of the table are three open cards from which either one or all three can be exchanged as a method of drawing. If there is nothing on the table that is interesting when it is your turn, you ‘pass’. Only when everyone passes for one round, the current cards in the middle are discarded and three new ones are drawn and put on the table openly again.
Thank you for letting me know that I can play this game in a lot of places of the world :D!