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Dear Sherpa Jim, I am looking for fun board and card games. Any thoughts? - Skull


Sherpa Jim: Skull Board Game


Do you want to do a bit of Skullduggery? Maybe a side of shenanigans? What about bluffing? Egging your friends on to make a mistake? Then check to all those. 

Skull is a light bidding & bluffing game from Hervé Marly, first published back in 2011. It has also been titled as Skull & Roses in some printings. 

Goal of the game?

To win! But how do I do that? Umm... by having the most victory points. Ha kidding. It is by either winning 2 bids or being the last person standing. 

How to play?

In Skull, each player starts with four coasters. three coasters have a picture of a flower and one has a picture of a skull on it. To start, each player places one of their four coasters face down on their mat. 


Skull Board Game Pieces


Then, the starting player can either add another coaster to their stack or make a bid. Players keep adding one coaster at a time until someone makes a bid. 

Once a bid is called, no more coasters are added. To make a bid you say the number of coasters you think you can flip over before hitting a skull. So the bid can be from 1 to the total number of coasters placed on the mats.

The next person in line can either up the bid or pass. If a player passes, they are out of the bidding. The bidding round keeps going until there is only one person left or someone bids the total number of coasters in play. 

The bidder then has to flip over coasters one at a time until they reach the number bid or flip over a skull. They must start by flipping over their own coasters first. Then they choose coasters from other players' stacks after that, if they still need to flip over more coasters to make their bid. They always have to flip the topmost coaster of a stack.

If they hit a skull, they stop and must lose one of their coasters randomly as a penalty. If they do not hit a skull they have succeeded. The first time they do, they flip over their mat to show they made their bid. The second time they succeed they win the game. 


Skull Board Game In Play


The wrap up.

This is a great bar and travel game. It is light and does not require much setup. It is easy to teach and quick to play. It is also a game I describe as a two or three “Oh…” game. As folks tend to think it’s really simple the first round and then they hit two or three levels of doublethink as they work out bluffing strategies and tactics. These are usually proceeded by the aforementioned “Oh….” and occasionally a sly grin with or without a head bob.  

All of the different versions I have seen so far have been really gorgeous, so while playing in public people will stop by to ask about the art while you play. And it should be easy enough for you to rope them in and maybe make some new gaming friends. I do feel compelled to point out this may be the most expensive set of coasters you will ever buy and not use as coasters. 

Hope you get a chance to play some Skull. 


Sherpa Jim


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