New Thing #240: 4 Thrones

4_ThronesRemember when I told you about 'Circadia'? One of the things I liked about it was that it seemed to do something different than all of the other games coming out as apps - at least the ones I was seeing.

Well, the maker of 'Circadia' has a new game out, called '4 Thrones'.

And this is another game that breaks the mold.

Full disclosure - the maker of '4 Thrones' likes my blog. And he sent me a code to download the new game.

I like to think I'm a man of my own free will and would still have enjoyed the game if this guy hated me to my core, but I tell you this information so that it doesn't seem like I'm hiding anything from you.

'4 Thrones' is a version of solitaire. There are three versions of the game - one is a single game mode, another is called 'Endless', where you see how far you can go before you bust out (for lack of a better term), and then there's 'Kings'. Oh, I'll be telling you more about 'Kings'.

Let me see if I can summarize the game: you have four cards showing, with the rest of the deck not showing. When you draw a card, it has to be higher than one of the showing cards. The face cards get tricky to top (perhaps obviously), but there are exceptions: you can put any lower card from any suit on top of a Jack, hearts and diamonds on top of a Queen, and spades on top of a King. (Kings are a tough card to deal with in this game.) Aces serve both as high cards that can beat a King, but they also serve as low cards you can build on top of. You can pass, but only three times. Once you run out of passes, that's what I mean by 'bust out'.

So that covers the first two game modes. Then there's 'Kings', which is different, because you accumulate points. But you can only accumulate points if a King is showing. This is difficult, because Kings are the card you don't really want. But now you want them, so you can get points. If you make it through one deck of cards your 3 passes get renewed and you keep going onto a new deck.

Saturday I was getting a haircut and there was a long wait - this game was perfect for that. (I never liked playing 'Angry Birds' or those types of games in waiting rooms. I felt like it drew too much attention. This type of game is perfect for a haircut wait.)

After the game's creator, Kurt Bieg, had contacted me it occurred to me that I had a chance to get some insight into the creation of these types of games, so I sent him some questions and he answered them. He wrote something similar to what I said above about the type of game '4 Thrones' is. Here's that, and consider it a sneak preview of New Thing #241:

"A lot of people play solitaire as a sort of mental ritual. While they're waiting at the dentist's office, before they go to bed, during lunch, etc. It's like this small thing people incorporate into their lives because it feels good, it's a shower for your brain and it organizes the clutter. So that was something I wanted to make sure was at the forefront. That meant making sure the game was simple, but rewarded thoughtful play. And that it retained that same classic solitaire feel of making simple decisions based on a little bit of luck and a little bit of strategy to get through the deck."

More on game design and inspiration coming tomorrow. If you don't understand my explanation of '4 Thrones' above, here's the bottom line: download it. It's fun.