Ducks in a Row: Apples-to-Apples Mechanics as a Strategic Trading Game

It's been a while since I've posted a simple little game here, so try this one out and share your thoughts. Take a standard deck of cards and shuffle them up for a group of 3-6 players. Deal out a hand of nine cards to each player and set aside the remainder. Choose someone at random to be the Judge for the first round.


To play, each player (including the Judge!) simultaneously chooses one card to offer the other players, face-down. The Judge keeps her card face down to the side of the play area. The Judge mixes up everyone else's offered cards while they're face-down so she can't tell who offered which card. Then the Judge reveals the offers to all players.

The Judge selects one card from the offer, adding it to her personal scoring tableau. The player who offered that card to her then takes one card from the offer, adding that to his own scoring tableau. The player who offered that card, then takes her choice of card... and so on, so each player takes turns accepting one card into his or her own tableau.

Whoever had the last turn gets the Judge's offered card and becomes the new Judge in the next round of play. Restrictions: You cannot take your own card. Cards you take can be added to the left or right of your scoring tableau, but not in between.


The game ends when each player has 7 cards in their tableau. Each player then adds one card from their hand to the end of their tableau and discards the one remaining card.


At the end of the game, your score is based consecutive five-card poker hands from your tableau. Each set of five cards overlaps across your tableau, as shown in the example at the top of this page. The tableau above divides up into four sets of five cards, the first being 6 of spades, 7 of spades, Ace of spades, 2 of spades, and 3 of diamonds.

In this manner, each player compares the first set of five cards in their tableaus. Whoever has the best poker hand wins 5 points. Whoever has second best scores 3 points. Whoever has third best scores 1 point. Once that first set is scored, move on to the second set of five cards in each tableau and compare those to one another. The player with the most total points wins! If tied, the player with highest total numbered ranks (2-10) wins.