- 👤 Players:
- ⏱ Time to play:
- 30 minutes
- ♟ Equipment:
- A game set OR a normal deck of cards.
- 🧠 Designer(s):
- Hervé Marly
Skull is distilled bluffing game, where each player puts down a Skull 💀 or a Rose 🌹 secretly and then mess with each other minds and bet to see who can turn up nothing but roses! Do it twice and you win! Forgot your actual game set? Play it with standard playing cards, because the game is not as much in the components as it is in your mind 🧠...
Each player takes four discs/cards in their hands and a mat. One disc is a Skull 💀 and the other three are Roses 🌹.
Each round has 3 steps:
Step 1: Choose a Starting Disc #
- Each player chooses a disc (💀 or 🌹) and places it face down on their mat.
- Once everyone has a disc down, move to Step 2
Step 2: Add or Challenge #
After Step 1, a player has two choices:
- If they want, the first player can Add an extra disc of their choice on top of the one they already played.
- If a player has no discs and it's their turn to add, they MUST challenge instead.
- Place the disc slightly offset so it can be seen how many are down.
- The player to their left can do the same, and this continues around the table until...
- If a player cannot or does not wish to Add a disc, they can issue a Challenge: They announce the number of discs they intend to reveal from among all discs played.
- A challenge cannot be 0, or higher than the total number of discs played.
- The first player in the round can immediately challenge rather than adding a disc on their turn.
- Once a challenge has been issued, each player must:
- Raise, by announcing a greater number than the current bid.
- Pass, and this player will no longer be able to take part in the bid. (When passing push your discs towards the middle to show you're out, but your discs will still be used in the challenge.)
- This continues until all players pass, save one: the player who bid the highest, and is now the Challenger.
- A challenge concerns ALL discs played on mats, including those of players who passed.
Step 3: The Attempt #
The challenger must now attempt to flip over the number of discs they bid.
- The challenger begins by flipping ALL THEIR OWN discs first.
- If the challenger has bid less discs than they have played, they will flip from their stack the necessary amount.
- They continue to flip discs with those of other players, and in the order they choose.
- Discs are flipped one by one, from the top down.
- The challenger does NOT have to flip ALL of an opponent's discs.
The challenger continues flipping until either they meet their bid, or turn over a Skull
Failed Attempt: Found a Skull 💀 #
If the Challenger turns over a Skull 💀, they stop their attempt and:
- All players return their discs to their hand.
- No more discs can be flipped by the Challenger to reveal an Opponent's strategy, but any Opponent can choose to reveal their own discs if they so choose (to taunt or mock the Challenger 😜)
- The challenger loses 1 disc for good.
- If the Challenger flipped an Opponent's skull, the Challenger shuffles their discs and places them all face down. The Opponent whose Skull was flipped chooses which disc is eliminated. That disc is removed from the game without being revealed. Only the Challenger will know if they lost a Skull or a Flower disc.
- If the Challenger flips their own Skull, they choose which disc to eliminate.
If the Challenger loses their last disc, they are eliminated from the game. The Opponent whose Skull eliminated the Challenger will go first on the next round. If the Challenger was eliminated from their own Skull, they choose who will go next.
Successful Attempt: Nothing But Roses! 🌹 #
If the Challenger has flipped their bid of Rose 🌹 discs, they have won their challenge. They can flip their mat to indicate one successful attempt. If they succeed again, they win.
Special Condition #
If a player has lost 3 of their 4 discs, they are limited in what they can do:
- If it's their turn to add disc beyond what they have, they must challenge instead.
- If it's their turn to bid, they can pass or increase.
- If their challenge is uncontested, they must still reveal from their pile first. If it is a Skull, that player is eliminated from the game.
New Round #
Whether they succeed or fail, the Challenger is the first player in the new round, which begins again at Step 1.
If a player wins 2 challenges OR they are the only player who isn't eliminated, they win.
- It's advantageous to be the first player, so it's worth taking a risk to nab that spot.
- Don't hesitate to bluff by starting a challenge or upping the ante despite having played a skull.
- Destabilize your Opponents by commenting on their actions, or casting doubt on their motives -- to win you must beat them from a psychological standpoint 🧠.
- 3 player games can be tactical and unforgiving, new players are recommended to start at more than 3.
Nathan's Notes: This can be easily played with a standard deck of cards:
- Give everyone 3 number cards (Roses) and 1 face card (Skull).
- Game plays as normal, just substitute 'disc' for 'card' in the rules.
- Use tokens to keep track of wins, or write it down on a sheet of paper.