Cribbage Game Feel

The Game

Cribbage is a card game where two or three players attempt to move through a peg board by making points on multiple game rounds. Every round is divided into three parts, the first: players draw six cards out of a deck and have to give two cards from their hands to a hidden deck that is owned by a different player each round. On the second part each player consecutively places down a card from their hands adding the points from each card until it reaches 31. The players score points by making pairs, trios, reaching 15 or 31. The third part of the game players reveal their hands and count how many points are accumulated on their hands, these can be calculated a number of ways. The player with the hidden deck also counts the points accumulated on the hidden deck.


Game Rules:


Players have different inputs in different game stages. On the first stage players are only able to discard two cards from their hands into the hidden deck. On the second stage players can only decide the order in which they put their card on the table in order to maximize their point making. On the third stage players can only count their existing points, however counting points incorrectly can result in losing points.


As players draw their cards each player increases their awareness of what cards are not available in the deck and are required to adapt their playing style in order to maximize their point making.


The cribbage peg board limits the player to go through a specific route. Players are able to visually gage their progress by monitoring the distance between their peg and their opponent’s peg. The outer pathway on the board often gives the impression the player is further ahead of the opponent on a turn due to the non equal spacing of the peg holes.


(in both images the players have the same point difference)

The tracks are often color coded in order to prevent players from accidentally crossing paths with their opponent as well as aiding the visual representation of the game’s score. (When I play it I always select the inner pathway and announce “the inner turns renders are shorter” as a joke, the results of the joke are often poor and equated to jokes fathers are culturally said to make).


It is customary for players to shuffle the deck consecutively, during this time players often make remarks about the previews game cycle while displaying their shuffling skills. The sound and feel of a clean riffle shuffle satisfies both players and gives a sense of confidence that the person able to beautifully perform a riffle shuffle must have spent a lot of time playing card games and therefore is more likely to win the game. This expectation however is most likely wrong. The act of placing pegs on the peg board is also satisfying because it involves simple addition and fine motor skills, placing a peg into the board while looking at your opponent is a common technique used to display raw confidence in one’s motor skills.


The card game has no significant metaphor, however it renders a very satisfying range of emotions out of it’s players due to the short cycles which prevents players from having long losing streaks. The game also requires players to do simple math outloud which can be both intimidating and satisfying but that often gives the game a academia feel. Perhaps it isn’t by accident this game was invented by a British poet in the early 17th century.


The game has alternative rules such as the ability to claim points from people who miscounted their hands. To some players winning a game before your opponent reaches the 90th peg (marked with an “S”) is equivalent to winning two games in a tournament.

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Copyright © Luís Zanforlin 2016