Thursday, March 26, 2015


Poker of the Dead

Texas Hold 'Em is an almost purely psychological game.  The players have no agency over the cards in their hand -- there's no draw phase -- so the only way to mitigate the luck of the draw is to learn how to read and manipulate your opponents.  Every hand has four rounds of betting, and the pool of community cards is larger than each player's personal hand, so players have a lot of known information about each other and lots of opportunities to present themselves as weak or strong in an attempt to force their opponents to raise the stakes or fold out.  When players play intelligently, you can get some pretty intense games going.

Poker of the Dead has none of that.

The excuse is that your opponents are brainless zombies, and so they play unintelligently, always calling bets with their unlimited available cash.  You always have three options: to raise the stakes, to raise the stakes higher, or to fold out.  Oh, and you don't get to bet after the River card is turned over, so you have to make your last bet with an incomplete knowledge of how your hand will turn out.  The game becomes completely one of luck.  There's no way to read your opponent's intent because it will always react the same way no matter what hand it's holding.  Folding is a bad option because the River card could always turn your hand around.  The player has very little knowledge to base his decisions on, so there's very little one can do to play intelligently.

What saves Poker of the Dead is its theming.

This is a zombie survival game.  The idea is that zombies are knocking at your door, and you ward them off by playing Hold 'Em.  Every time you win a hand, regardless of the stakes, you get a bullet for your shotgun.  When you get three bullets, you can use the "All In" option.  If you go all in and win, you double your cash and blast the zombie away.  You lose your bullets, another zombie appears, and the game continues.  There are ten hands in a game day, with the stakes rising every day you play.  If you survive seven days, you win.

It's a cute, silly bit of fun.  A lot of developers, understandably, took a conservative approach to the e-ink Kindle game shop, with popular board games, pen and paper puzzles, and choose your own adventure stories.  This game is at least slightly imaginative, and I appreciate that.  Even if the game is mostly luck driven, it's still satisfying to blow zombies away with full houses and push my high score ever higher.  It's right up there with Jungle Juice as one of my favorite games on the system.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?