3:10 to Nashville (I wrote out the basic rules here)
This two-stage game is cumbersome to explain but quite easy to get used to. The last stage has more fun elements, like the regular players can still participate in the final shootout if they still have their own cards remaining from the shootouts of the previous stage–they can use the cards to “deflect” enemy cards if they are the same numbers. It was fun to play, for sure; there were different ways of interacting with the players, such as screaming across the street to challenge the other player while cars were passing by or sneaking around opponents. We even found deceitful strategies, such as having only one card on hand and still engaging in a duel, so even when you lose, the opponent has not only wasted a card but also cannot win a card at all from you. There was also a safe strategy to stick to: using your highest card in every duel so that the enemy can’t win it in the random pick even if he/she wins.
However, the game could be more complex by utilizing more of the face cards (maybe kings having different powers from queens, jokers being wild cards) and being less dependent on randomness (e.g. some players had a lot of high number cards, thus dominating the duels). Maybe face cards can even be used in duels for more complexity, and the factions could be defined by wearable props (hats!!).
Turtle Wushu (rules here)
It was impossible to not think about Joust while playing this game. Admittedly, Turtle Wushu is arguably easier and more active because the turtle is free to vibrate on your hand as long as it doesn’t fall. We later found out that it was (kind of) important which turtle you chose too–tortoises had a very slight advantage because of their footing. I wanted the game to have more relevance to its name though other than the turtle figures you would play with; Joust was okay because the name of the game implies some sort of arena and people battling it out among themselves. Couldn’t the disqualified players of Turtle Wushu do something more, like slowly moving around the playing field like a turtle and interfering with the players still in the game? It would bring elements of revenge (“you just knocked my turtle away so I’ll help in knocking away yours!”) and more engagement from disqualified players, as I noticed they would just idly stand by and become uninterested in the end. Some didn’t even notice who the winner was.