A card game recommended to us by our friends at Board Game Review.
Cockroach Poker or Kaker Laken Poker as it’s aptly named by its German creators, is the card game where creepy crawlies come out to play.
But insects aren’t the only things you’ll encounter with Cockroach Poker, there’s also rats, bats and toads to deal with – literally!
Each card is uniquely illustrated with these seemingly sinister critters. Yet you can’t help but appreciate how cool they look. Spiders and cockroaches aren’t supposed to look cute, and artwork stays true to that, whilst being charming at the same time.
With so many interesting creatures, it was difficult to pick out one of them to highlight. Also, unlike most other card games, all of these cards are of equal value. Meaning they haven’t got any individual special abilities that will influence gameplay. Winning is only determined by matching pairs of the same cards.
So this time I decided to choose the card that led me to my first victory. And that just happened to be the Fly Card.
Now let’s take a look at how a humble fly made my night…
Despite the name, Cockroach Poker has nothing to do with traditional Poker. But you will have to harness your bluffing skills to become victorious.
The aim of Cockroach Poker is to force another player to collect 4 of any one type of critter in a reverse set collection style game.
I was quite excited to play this one, as any card game that requires a bit of cunning is always a fave of mine.
Once again it was only myself and one other player to tackle these critters, so we had to follow the two player rules.
In the three or more player rules, players have the option of peeking and passing on cards to other players. But this is omitted in the two player version.
We started off the gameplay very slowly, with both of us not quite sure on how we were going to force the other player to collect pairs of cards.
So there was very little bluffing going on to begin with. This was my strategy. Get my fellow player to trust me to tell the truth and then catch them off guard with a lie.
The first two flies were actually captured by my partner by telling the truth. And I realised I had four more Fly cards in my hand so plenty of opportunities to get them to take some more. I had to create a fly trap.
The Fly Trap
As we were only two players we had the extra task of forcing the other player to collect five cards rather than four. So there was very little room for errors.
But my partner was getting smarter, he knew all my tricks by now so my bluffing game was getting weaker.
By this time I had a collection of three bats, not what I was hoping for. Only two bats away from getting battered!
I looked in my hand, and I also had three bats. These will be my bait. As the saying goes, “you catch more flies with bats, than with vinegar…” (or something like that!)
I placed down my Fly card and declared it was a bat. Boom! He fell for it. He thought I was telling the truth and trying to stop myself from getting another bat, when in fact I was trying to force him to take another Fly.
On my next turn, I decided to sacrifice a Fly card to throw him off the scent. So I placed down a Fly card and declared it as such. Again, he fell for it, he knew I was telling the truth, but that’s exactly what I wanted.
The Double Bluff
Now let’s look at the scores. I had 3 bats and he had 3 flies. But I only had 2 Fly cards left in my hand so I had to tread carefully. As any wasted card here would mean I wouldn’t have enough Fly cards left to force my partner to take.
So I decided to risk a double-bluff. I placed down a Fly card and declared it as a Fly (don’t worry I knew what I was doing). “You’re lying”, he said. I said “Take your Fly sir!”.
He didn’t think I would put down two Fly cards in a row, and therein lies my double-bluff!
But then I slipped up, he tricked me into taking another Bat. Now we had 4 bats and 4 flies each. This was the final countdown.
We spent the next few rounds playing it safe. A toad card here and spider card there. None of us wanted to risk putting down the wrong card and throwing away our chances. It seemed almost impossible for me to be able to get rid of my last Fly card to win this thing once and for all.
I had been slowing trying to get him to collect some Rat cards to throw him off the scent. On my last hand I declared a Rat card, but it was a Cockroach and he took it. So this time I decided to declare another Rat card.
And bam! He thought I was telling the truth!
Lord of the Flies
In a dramatic slow-motion move, I slowly placed down and unveiled my “rat”. Behold a Fly is born!
He looked at it in disbelief. “I thought you didn’t have any more of those”, he said. “That’s what I wanted you to think”, I said.
I had won. They will call me Lord of the Flies in years to come!
Haha, okay maybe not but that’s how it went folks.
An unusual card from an unusual game. But sometimes it’s the story behind the card that makes it come into the light.
And with so many great game nights happening all the time, I sometimes wish I could be that Fly on the wall…