Saturday, September 17, 2022

How to Change Your Appearance

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Most game sites will let you change the way you look, and it’s the same at World of Card Games. Even so, not everyone realizes it. Today’s post is a short one that explains how to do that.

Just click the “Avatar” link in the upper left corner of the screen. This causes a panel to open that’s filled with all the possible images you can use for your profile picture while playing a game. You can scroll down using the scrollbar at the right hand side of the panel, and when you see the one you want to use, click it. You’ll see a green check mark briefly appear, and the panel will close.

Now you’re all set. You’ll see your new avatar the next time you play a game. And you can change your avatar to something new anytime you want – all free of charge. Enjoy!

You can choose from a wide variety of images for your profile pic!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Best Spades card game hand ever?

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

A player at the site recently sent me a Spades hand history. She’s been playing at the site for many years, and thinks this is the best hand she’s ever seen. Here’s a screenshot taken of the replayer that she downloaded after the hand was finished.

There are at least 6 sure winners in South’s hand, and probably more

She has 7 spades cards, and the 6 highest spades (9 through ace). And she has the ace and king of clubs. What do you think? What would you have bid? I think I would have bid 9, but it would depend on the other players’ bids. Notice that she was also extra lucky in being last to bid, so she’d be able to adjust her bid based on what everyone else already bid.

If you want to see what the bids were, and what happened during the hand, click this link to view the full replay. It is well worth taking a look if you enjoy playing Spades. Just keep clicking the “next” button to see each step during the hand — which was really an eye-opener!

This was a pretty amazing hand! I do think it’s the best hand anyone has ever sent me. But it’s not the best one that’s possible. The very best hand would consist of an entire handful of spades — from 2 to ace. And that’s a valid hand, too — literally just as valid as any other hand. I’d love to see that, one day, myself! I wonder which is more rare: a hand completely full of spades, or picking all the right lottery numbers for the Mega Millions? I’m not going to try to work out the odds… ūüėÉ

You have to pay for a lottery ticket, but trying your luck in a game of Spades is entirely free online at World of Card Games. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Was this Spades bid too high?

A modest bid of 2 still got set!

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Someone sent me a Spades hand history from World of Card Games to ask what I thought: Was their bid too high? The player is “West” in the screenshot above. They were first to bid, so they had no information about anyone else’s bids.

When I’m first to bid, I’ll usually err on the side of caution. So let’s see what we have here. The player bid 2. Do I agree?

At first glance, I’d say it was entirely reasonable. As you can see from the screenshot above, they’ve got the king of spades and one extra trump card. That king of spades is very likely to take a trick, but there’s a small possibility that it might be trumped by the ace, with some bad luck.

Clearly, the player was also counting on their king of clubs taking a trick. I also think this is reasonable. They’ve got three clubs. It’s always possible that someone else is long in clubs, and that might result in their king of clubs getting trumped. But on average, I think it’s usually safe to count that king as taking a trick, with only three of the suit in my hand.

However, this turned out to be one of those cases where the odds were not in favor of West. Late in the hand, when West tried to take a trick by trumping over their right-hand opponent using their king of spades, the left-hand opponent took the opportunity to trump that card with the ace of spades! This was the worst-case scenario that they didn’t really anticipate. If they had held the king and just discarded a hearts card, they might have saved their bid.

Overall, I still think the bid was good, and this team just had a bit of bad luck. What do you think? You can view the hand history here or take a look at the replayer of this Spades hand at YouTube.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Play Pokémon Go to Improve Your Health

A Zigzagoon from Pokémon Go seen in augmented reality!

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Recently, I’ve started playing Pok√©mon Go. Okay, I admit it. I’m hopelessly behind — this game has been out since 2016, for 6 years! I’ve always been curious about it, but never had the time to look into it. I used to play video games as a kid. But as I got older, life got complicated, and I became more of a workaholic. By now, I almost never play games anymore, unless I need to for work!

However, Pok√©mon Go really piqued my curiosity. The stories I’d heard about it reminded me of a scavenger hunt, and that appealed to me. Off and on, I’d hear about this game, and think it sounded like fun. So finally, I caved in and downloaded the app. It’s available for Android and iOS. And it’s free of charge, although you are encouraged to make “in-app purchases”, something that I’ve found easy to avoid so far.

When I started to play, I had no idea what I was doing. I decided to jump right in and not do any research. Research would take the fun out of it! I’m sure there are people who would read all about the rules and look for “cheat codes” and strategies to get ahead as quickly as possible. That was not me. Well, for one, I just don’t have the time ūüėĄ. And for another, I think that would spoil the game for me. I wanted to discover the rules and figure out how to get ahead without any outside help.

I just started by downloading the app and creating an account. It was so easy that I felt silly about how long it had taken me to get around to it. You choose a name, an outfit (yes, sunglasses and all), and you’re ready to go.

It was not so clear what I was supposed to do when I started. I soon discovered some Pok√©mon monsters, and I finally figured out that I was supposed to capture them by throwing “Pok√© Balls” at them. You do this by swiping your finger up your phone screen in the general direction of the creature. I was pretty bad at it, since my ball tosses tended to swerve to the right. I still don’t do this very well, and I wonder if I’ll get any better, or if there are any tricks to it. I’ve improved a bit, and I can usually capture the monsters that I find. Perhaps 30% of the monsters that I capture manage to escape, unfortunately. True to my nature, I’ve restrained myself from looking for advice about how to improve my odds. Usually, if a monster escapes, I can keep trying, and eventually I’ll get it (using valuable resources along the way, of course). A few of them take a powder before I can capture them for good.

I captured a few Pok√©mon just sitting at home, but they turned out to be pretty scarce in my vicinity, and the game got boring. I was quite interested in trying the game outdoors, since I’d heard some fuss about how Pok√©mon Go used some kind of “augmented reality” to interact with the monsters outside.

Eventually, I had the chance to take the app on a walk. This turned out to be entertaining. The app has a built in real-life map of your area. While you walk around, you can see your character walking along a map of your real-life location. Here and there on the map, you see “points of interest”. I didn’t understand how to use these at first. I’d click on one, and see a monster and a photo of the place. For example, the place might be a library building or town hall. I still don’t know how these places were first input into the app, but I’m guessing these were contributed by players. Speaking as a game developer, having to filter out all the user contributions sounds like a real headache. Many of them must have come from trolls or worse. Oy! But I digress.

Eventually, the app itself gave me a tip that I could “spin” the photo of the point of interest and that would generate some little bubbles that I could tap to collect extra valuable potions and so on. Why do you need potions? To heal your critters when they get hurt in fights!

After playing for a while, I was accosted by a kind of bully who challenged me to a fight. He arrived in a hot air balloon, no less! I could have run away, but decided to give it a try, and accepted the challenge.

It turns out that you don’t do any fighting yourself. Instead, the Pok√©mon you’ve captured fight for you. In each fight, you can pick three Pok√©mon to represent you. The bully is represented by three Pok√©mon of his or her own.

I think I’m fighting correctly, but I’m not really sure. Fighting involves swiping or tapping across the screen really fast, like you’re shooting at the opposing Pok√©mon. The system chooses an ideal Pok√©mon group for me, and I just kind of hope that I’m using them the correct way. Sometimes I can choose to apply a shield against an attack, and that often works. Sometimes I see a message that tells me my attack is not very effective, but I don’t know how to solve that problem. It seems some types of Pok√©mon are more effective at attacking other types. I don’t understand those nuances, yet. Sometimes I win the fight, but I’ve probably lost about 50% of them so far.

Honestly, the battles are not overly exciting. And I’m not sure that I’ll become interested enough in this game to dig into the details of how to improve my chances in these battles. I’m going to keep at it for a while because there’s one thing that I really like about the game. It encourages exercise. You get credit for walking while you play the game.

I can see why this is a problem. After all, we don’t want people strolling down the street with their noses glued to their mobile phone screens. That is a recipe for disaster. The way I deal with this is to take the phone along on a walk, and if I see the opportunity for a battle, I’ll just stop, step to a safe spot to one side of the sidewalk, and play. So far, so good. I do like that the app encourages people to get up and move. It just needs to be used sensibly in order to avoid accidents.

In this respect, Pok√©mon Go is so different from World of Card Games, where the only opportunity for exercise is between games, or perhaps if you use one of those treadmill desks. Card games have been around for much longer than the Internet, and you don’t need an app to play them, so that’s very different as well. All you need is a deck of cards (if playing Solitaire) and maybe some friends if playing a game like Spades or Hearts. I can see the appeal of Pok√©mon Go as an alternate type of entertainment. It gets you out of your chair and outside. And there’s a huge world of game items and rules to discover.

In contrast, the rules of card games are generally simpler. Once you figure them out, it’s up to you to try to apply different strategies within the constraints of the rules to try to win the game. I feel like a big part of the fun of Pok√©mon Go will be puzzling out how things work, and I wonder if I won’t get bored once I do. On the other hand, once I figured out the rules of card games like Euchre, Double Deck Pinochle, and Spades, I never got bored of them. I don’t play very often, but I still find it entertaining and relaxing to play once in a while. Perhaps Pok√©mon Go will turn out that way, too. Time will tell!

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Questionable Cover for a Nil Bid in a Hand of Spades

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Here’s an interesting hand of Spades that was sent to me by a player recently (click this link to view a “replay” of the hand or watch the YouTube video by clicking that video link above).

The player, North, at the bottom of the screen, bid nil. I think it was a pretty good nil, with lots of low cards, and only two low spades.

Their weak suit was hearts: 3, 9, 10, J, and Ace. If an opponent tried to set them with a low hearts card, North could duck once. But if another low hearts card was led, they might have some trouble. It all depends on the distribution of cards… does their teammate, South, have too many low hearts?

Turns out that South has the 7, Queen, and King of hearts. It seems like that could work if played correctly. But if you check what happened using the replayer, or viewing the YouTube video, you’ll see something a little strange.

The second trick was led by the right hand opponent with a low card, the 8 of hearts. North ducked by playing the 3 of hearts, their only card that was lower than the 8. This left them with a handful of pretty dangerous cards: 9, 10, J and ace.

At this point, the nil bidder had safely ducked, and the nil would not be set. South did not have to take this trick. Rather, it was an opportunity for South to discard their low hearts card, the 7. In fact, South did something a bit dangerous, in my view. They took the trick with the queen. This left only two hearts in their hand, the king and 7. They could cover one more hearts trick using the king. Once they did that, they’d be stuck with the lone 7 of hearts. If the opponents led another hearts trick after that, North would most likely be set. So it is a mystery to me why South decided to take this trick instead of using the opportunity to discard their low card.

The person who emailed me was surprised and disturbed when viewing the replayer, too. If you view the entire video, you’ll find out just how the hand played out.

I feel that even slightly risky nils are usually worth the risk in Spades. Sometimes, though, your teammate will make a mistake, and your risk becomes higher than expected! In this case, perhaps South got distracted or misclicked a card.

What do you think? Can you think of a legitimate reason for playing the cards like this? Leave a comment here, if so!

Saturday, August 6, 2022

What Would You Bid? Spades End Game Strategy

As the dealer, I’m the last to bid in this game of Spades

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Here’s a screenshot of a hand from a game of Spades that I played at World of Card Games, this week. Check out the scores! There’s a puzzle. What would you bid to win this game?

This is one of my favorite scenarios when playing Spades. Both my team and my opponents are within reach of winning. So we’re probably in the final hand. Both sides need some combination of luck and intelligent bidding to win the game.

In this case, my team has 465 points. The opponents have 472 points. So close! I am last to bid. That means my team is in a stronger position because I’m going to know all the other bids before I have to make my own bid. I like being last to bid! ūüėÉ

My left-hand opponent, Atom, bids a reasonable 3. With Ace and King of Spades, he will definitely get 2 tricks. And he’s counting on the Ace of hearts to give him an extra trick. I think that bid makes sense as an opener. He’s also in the worst position. As first to bid, he has no additional information to help him decide whether to underbid or overbid. If anything, he might be a bit cautious in making his bid.

My partner, Optimus Prime, bids 2. At this stage, all I know is that he doesn’t have a very good hand. Too bad, because that may make it difficult for us to win.

However, we got lucky. My right-hand opponent, hitchBot, bid 1. I would argue that this was a mistake. This bid brings their total bid to 4. If they make their bid, they’re going to wind up with a total of 512 points (472 + 4*10). That’s enough to end the game. But there are also plenty of tricks left — 9 extra tricks for our team to take — to help my team beat them. Why 9? Well there are 13 total tricks, and they bid 4, so there are 9 left.

That means that there’s plenty of wiggle room here for me to bid just a little higher and beat their final score. This is why I like bidding last. I just make a judgment call — can I make a bid that’s safe, and that will put my team’s score slightly above the opponent’s score? If so, that’s the bid to make.

In this case, I need to bid something that will put my team above 512 points in order to win the game. If my team bids a total of 5, and then succeeds in taking 5 tricks, we will win the game with 515 points, just squeaking by. So I have to bid at least 3. If I bid 2, my team will lose.

In the end, I wound up bidding 4 to take my team’s total bid to 6 — that’s 1 more than what we needed to win. Why did I do this? I was slightly worried that the other team might try to give us 5 bags. If that happened, we’d roll and lose 100 points. By pushing our total bid to 6, I felt pretty confident that they couldn’t give us 5 bags, although you can never be sure.

If I’d bid 3, our team’s total bid would be 5. To make us roll, the opponent would need to give us 5 bags — so we’d have to take 5 extra tricks! That would mean they’d have to purposefully lose their bid. Many people don’t want to aim for that, even if that means losing the game. Also, ducking tricks is not exactly easy to do. You could accuse me of being overly cautious by bidding 4 in order to avoid a roll, and you’re probably correct.

In the end, my team wound up winning, easily. I was playing against the bots, and they aren’t very clever in their end-game strategy. Too bad! It’s fun to win, but I really prefer the challenge of a smart pair of opponents.

Here’s the hand history for that hand, if you’re curious to see how it played out. What would you have done if you were on the opposing team? If you were in hitchBot’s place, would you have bid nil? Do you think I made a mistake in bidding 4?

Saturday, July 30, 2022

How to Avoid People You Don’t Like

Sometimes, people just get on your nerves

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

At World of Card Games, if someone is behaving in a way that annoys you, you can hit the “dislike” button next to that player. Once you do that, you won’t be seated with them again.

If only real life were that simple, eh? Sometimes, you’re put in situations where you have to interact with someone who bugs you. Maybe it’s a relative, a coworker, or your boss. There’s no dislike button in life! But there are things you can do about the problem.

One thing that can work is to recognize that you can’t control other people, but you can control how you react to them. So, if you’re letting someone get under your skin, but they’re not actually harming you, then it might be worth looking deep into yourself to try to understand what is bugging you so much about their actions. Is it really something that should upset you? Is it possible that you’re actually the one causing yourself more trouble than the other person? For example, if someone is being rude or disrespectful to you, your first reaction might be to get upset, and to try to force them to be respectful in some way. But unless their rudeness is actually causing you to be endangered, then what harm does it do to you? In fact, in many cases, rudeness just reflects poorly on the person being rude, and it’s not worth wasting your time on. Ignoring people who bother you is a great way to avoid unnecessary stress, if you can find a way to do that.

Another option seems a bit of the coward’s way out, but can be very effective. Just do your best to avoid those who annoy you. Don’t like a coworker? Make an excuse to leave the room when they appear, or be extra busy to stay out of their way. Don’t like your boss? Make a serious effort to get a new job so that you don’t dread getting up in the morning.

Some people find that confronting the people who annoy you can work. Is a coworker tap-tap-tapping away, destroying your focus? Don’t wait for it to become so irritating that you explode in a rage at them. Instead, politely explain the problem. In many cases, people don’t even realize that they’re causing someone else discomfort, and will immediately work to improve the situation — but ya gotta tell them!

Just so it’s clear, in every case above, I’m talking about those who annoy you — not when you’re in real danger. If you’re in danger, seek help from the authorities! We’re talking about annoyances here, not danger.

Do you have a favorite tactic to remain unstressed by the behavior of others? Please share your ideas. And thanks for reading!