Sunday, December 27, 2015

update for bug fixes

The site was down for a few minutes while it was updated for bug fixes this morning. Apologies for the interruption in your games! It's now back online.

There is one minor change that you may notice. The redeal feature that is available in Spades and Double Deck Pinochle has been modified so that players are given 30 seconds to redeal if someone leaves the table. This is true regardless of whether the game is paused or not. I hope this helps those who found that they were not able to agree upon a redeal before the game restarted.

Monday, December 14, 2015

holiday word puzzles 2015

If you like word puzzles, you might want to try these holiday themed puzzlers, courtesy of World of Card Games. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

new euchre option to avoid stick the dealer

If you're one of those players who hates the "Stick the Dealer" (STD) rule in Euchre at World of Card Games, you now have an option to avoid it.

Stick the Dealer option
Open your "Options" for Euchre. The new option is called "Stick the Dealer". By default, it is set to "Either". It is the least restrictive option. If you keep it this way, you'll be seated most quickly, at any Euchre table, no matter whether the rule is applied or not. If you are first to the table, the STD rule is applied.

If you really like the STD rule, you may want to click "Yes" for this option. This means you will be seated only at tables where the STD rule applies. If you are first to the table, the STD rule is applied.

If you strongly dislike the rule, click "No" for this option, and you'll be seated at tables where the rule is not applicable. If you are first to the table, the STD rule is not applied.

Note that Euchre tables where STD is applied are shown with the notation 'std' in the list of tables. In the screenshot below, the ranked Euchre table has STD applied, while the unranked one (which is for Registered Players Only - 'reg only') does not:
STD applies at all ranked Euchre games
If you are seated at a Euchre table, and you want to know whether the STD rule is enforced, just click the "table info" link in the lower left corner. It will show you all the options that apply to the game:
Euchre table info shows Stick the Dealer option

There were a few other updates this morning.

The Euchre bots have been tinkered with, so they should play a little better now. If you see them make a particularly bad move, you can always send me the hand history so I can look into the problem.

The Pinochle bots had a problem with their meld bids, and this should now be fixed as well.

In Hearts, the rule for who gets points when shooting the moon has been modified. Now, points are deducted from the shooter's score, unless adding points to the other players' scores keeps (or puts) the shooter in first place.

There's also a new "welcome" banner that can be clicked to find out more about ranked tables. You can play ranked Hearts games already. Rankings will come to other games in the next few months.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

hearts ratings bug fix, list of tables bug fix

There was a bug in the update to the Hearts ratings last week which caused the losing players to get more points deducted from their Elo ratings than they should have. My apologies, I know some of you take the ratings very seriously!

I've applied a fix to the problem this morning. Anyone who would like to get their Elo ratings set back to where they were last Wednesday need only write to me and ask (marya@worldofcardgames.com). To do this, just make sure that you send me the email from the address that you registered with, so I know it's you. I will do this for people up until the end of November.

[Edit on Nov 24 2015: Only a small number of requests to reset Elo ratings have come in. After receiving negative feedback on the way this was being done, I decided to just go ahead and do the work to perform a bulk update of Elo ratings. Anyone who played at a ranked table prior to Nov 17 has had their Elo rating reset to the value from Nov 11, before the bug was introduced. To be clear, this was only done if it led to an increase in their ratings - I did not reset values that were lower.]

I've written a page about how the Elo ratings are computed at World of Card Games, so you can always check for yourself to make sure you are getting the correct results.

I've also applied a fix for the "list of tables", which had a bug that caused the list to stop updating. Third times the charm? I hope so!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

list of tables bug fix, Pinochle bots improvement

This morning, the server was updated to repair a bug in the "list of tables". It's supposed to update every few seconds, but had stopped. This is now fixed.
list of tables updates every few seconds
I've spent a little bit of time updating the bots in Pinochle, based on feedback. They'll still need more work, but overall should be a little bit better in playing their cards now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

new features! chat after game, spades hand history

This morning, the server was down for a brief time in order to apply some updates.

Registered players can now chat after their game has finished at World of Card Games! After the game finishes, you will now see three buttons: "Home", "Chat", and "Play ..." (see screenshot below).
Click Chat button to chat with the Registered players after your game
Clicking the "Home" button takes you back to the main home page, where you can decide what new game you want to play. Clicking the "Play ..." button takes you directly to a new game of the same type that you just finished (for example, Hearts or Spades).

Clicking the "Chat" button takes you to a "chat" table where only the registered players from the game you just finished are invited. This gives you time to discuss the game in as much detail as you like, should you care to do so. The "Chat" button goes away after 30 seconds, so be sure to use it as soon as possible if you are interested in a chat with your group of players. Caveat: No one is obliged to go to the chat table, so you may find that no one joins you there.

If any who played with you goes to the chat table after your game is finished, this chat table will show up in the list of tables. Here's a screenshot of how to recognize it:
"chat" table shows up in the list of tables
Another new feature is the ability to save your "hand history" in Spades. The hand history is already familiar to those who play Euchre. Registered players can download the history of their previous hand, and replay it in the browser to review all the cards played, one step at a time. In Euchre, this feature can be a nice tool to discuss strategy. It is also very useful to report bugs in the bots to me. I'm hoping Spades players will find it useful as well. Sometimes, people report problems with the bots, but it's too time-consuming for me to figure out just what happened. With this new feature, if the bots make a boneheaded mistake, you can grab the hand history and send it to me with a description of what went wrong. I will be more likely to fix a problem when I know exactly what happened, and can reproduce the issue.

To download the hand history, click the old-fashioned "floppy disk" icon that appears next to your avatar after a hand has finished. You can see what it looks like in the screenshot here.
Click the floppy disk icon to download the hand history in Spades
Hm, I can't believe I just called a floppy disk "old-fashioned"! :)

Another important change: at ranked tables, the Elo ratings now reward the first-place player only. Elo ratings in Hearts was discussed in the previous blog post. I did not receive a lot of feedback, one way or the other, about this... but most players appear to like the idea, so I've made the change. I will continue to keep track of any feedback on the issue. Please post to Facebook or Twitter or here on the blog if you have comments. (FYI: anonymous posts are not treated very seriously; anyone can post anonymously multiple times, so I don't consider them to be so useful.)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hearts ratings should not reward second place - guest blog

This morning, an update was applied to fix a bug which caused some players to be unable to see existing ranked tables in Hearts.

The new rankings have generated some discussion! Constance, a Hearts player, has written today's guest blog on that topic. Please take a look at what she has to say. - Marya

I am delighted to see ELO ratings being applied to Hearts, which should strengthen the competition. The current ELO ratings reflect place position - that is, 1st is better than 2nd, is better than 3rd, with 4th being the big loser. Classic Hearts rewards only 1st place; there are 3 last-place finishers - regardless of score. I am in favor of this Winner-Take-All position and Marya has offered me the opportunity to defend it.

For a game with such simple rules, Hearts is remarkably complex. The primary goal for Low is to end the game as quickly as possible by eliminating High or to increase his lead at any opportunity.  A temporary, yet shifting alliance is formed by the other players who attempt to unseat Low using their knowledge in identifying the Q-holder, suits in which players are void,  and how many of a suit are outstanding. This forms the complex strategy of the game: teamwork with a selfish goal - becoming Low.

Part of the strategy is trusting  your 'team'  to not hurt you in the effort to go after Low. It means protecting High, who may be on the brink of elimination, by taking some of his point-tricks and possibly helping him moon. It means doing what is necessary to prolong the game at the expense of increasing your own score:  taking a Q to stop a moon, not leading spades until you are sure it will not hurt the wrong person, leading suits which Low holds and in which the Q-holder is void, passing cards that will not prematurely end the game, avoiding dumping the Q on first opportunity until you are reasonably sure it will target Low. 

Having a rating system which has proportional rewards weakens the game. Strategy will change to the extent that ratings matter. Players will begin to strategize for place position. Trust will deteriorate. Dumping the Q and ducking points will become more frequent, at least as end-game approaches or in games with skewed scores.  If Low has a substantial lead, he will most likely be given a pass by the 'team' who will now turn on each other for 2nd place and a resulting ELO rating increase, in most cases.

Decisions become more conflicted in Proportional-Reward games. A 2nd place player may end the game by dumping the Q on high in order to ensure a 2nd place position. A moon-stopper may not be employed if it results in the player's own  position to be shifted downward. In Winner-Take-All games, where  2nd is no better than 4th, players make decisions that will extend the game - not to end it. There is no benefit to ending a game in which the 'team' places last to a single winner.

I have no doubt that there will be players who will continue to play traditional, classic Hearts and that at the beginning of the game, everyone will strive to win. But traditional players will find themselves at odds with an increasing number of new players who are conditioned to a Proportional-Reward game of Hearts, bringing with it a changed strategy - one which includes trying to improve place position behind the winner, especially if it appears too risky to go after Low.

The primary argument I have heard in favor of a 2nd place reward is to keep players in the game longer - that they find a consolation prize justification that they did better than 3rd & 4th, that there is no incentive for high-scorers to remain in the game just to come in last. To that I say So What! Who wants to play with people of such  fragile egos anyway? On this issue, I would like to reference Marya's Hearts Strategy & Tips: "With 4 players in Hearts, and only 1 winner, your odds of losing are good: 75%, all other things being equal. So if you are going to play Hearts, you need to be willing to accept taking a loss in most of your games. The game is a good test of character, in this respect!" 

I leave with a quote from G Berns"To watch 3 excellent hearts players playing cooperatively, stalking the low-scorer adept at evading, is to watch hearts at its very best."

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bidder Out option in Double Deck Pinochle is the default

This morning, a change was made to Double Deck Pinochle at World of Card Games. I did this because I had enough feedback to think it was necessary.

According to Pagat's Double Deck Pinochle page, Pinochle "is won by the first partnership to achieve a score of 500 or more. If both sides reach 500 on the same hand, the bidding side wins." Some people call this the "bidder out" rule.

I've consulted with some Pinochle experts - by asking about it at Stack Exchange, Power Pinochle forums, and Board Game Geek - and they all tell me it is true: if both players reach 500 or more on the same hand, it is not the high score that decides who wins. Rather, the win is awarded to the bidding team.

This makes the game a little more intense towards the end if the scores are close enough. It might encourage each team to take a little more risk in winning the bid, in order to win that last hand and thus the game.

I had not implemented the game this way when I introduced it. However, it is now the default option. If you feel strongly enough, you can change your settings so that the high-scoring team always gets the win by unchecking your Pinoche "Bidder Out" option. I hope you like the change!
Bidder Out option for Double Deck Pinochle is now the default

Saturday, October 3, 2015

bots can now replace humans at ranked hearts tables

Yesterday, special ranked tables were added to the Hearts card game. Ranked tables were intended to be exceptional in having strict rules: no robots allowed, and registered players only. Penalties were applied to those who left a game early.

Some players found that the "no robots allowed" policy was making it impossible to finish their games. After someone dropped out (deliberately or accidentally), they'd be stuck waiting for a long time before the game could continue. This was true even though human players are allowed to substitute at ranked tables... so such tables do show up in the "list of tables" (they don't show as ranked once a player leaves because you do not get ranked if you join such a table after it starts). Apparently, tables where "no robots" applies are especially unappealing to Hearts players.

People are not dropping out from ranked games very often, so that's good. Even so, when it happens, it leaves people waiting indefinitely for fear of losing in the rankings, which is no fun. To correct this, I've now changed the rule so that bots may replace a human who left the table. This is only permitted after the game starts. And in case it is not obvious, winning or losing to a bot does not count towards your ranking!

It is still necessary to get 4 humans together to start a ranked game... currently this involves a wait. It appears that most people prefer to start a game with bots. For those who want to play a Hearts game with humans from start to finish, ranked tables are the best way to go. I hope the wait time will lessen as more people discover rankings.

For those who are curious, a description of how "Elo ratings" are computed is given at the site.

Friday, October 2, 2015

rankings added to hearts card game

You can now play ranked Hearts card games at World of Card Games. There are more details at that link, so take a look there if you are interested.

I've added two different rankings - an "Elo rating" and a "Skill rating" -
Elo rating and Skill rating
If you are eligible to play at a ranked table, you'll see the "ranked" table in the list of tables panel. Click on a seat to be taken to the table.
a ranked table in the list of tables with 3 seats available, note purple color
Bots are unavailable at ranked tables until near the end of the game, so I expect that it may be difficult to get a ranked game going, especially for players outside the US time zone [Edit: as of Oct 3 2015, bots may be invited as soon as someone drops out]. I don't think it makes a lot of sense to rank individuals against bots, though, since they don't have expert levels of skill.

There are several advantages to playing at a ranked table: because quitting a table has a more serious penalty than simply taking a loss, it can be hoped that players will be less likely to quit. In addition to your Elo rating taking a hit, quitting gets you banned from ranked tables for 4 hours. This means that you should find more reliable players at the ranked tables, on average.

I'll be playing at the ranked Hearts tables on and off during the day, and look forward to hearing from people about their experiences with it.

If you experience any problems or bugs after this update, please let me know. There were some major changes!

Monday, September 28, 2015

average Euchre win ratio at World of Card Games

Some Euchre players may be interested to know where they stand in their win/loss statistics at World of Card Games. If you don't want to know, stop reading now! ☺

In September of 2015, I computed the win ratio for Euchre players who had completed at least 100 games. I used the numbers that produce the "Absolute win/loss ratio" shown under your "stats" link. Below you will see the distribution of players by win percents. There's one player who has managed to attain a win ratio of > 70%. There are 15 with win ratios between 60-70%... most players come in around 40-50%, which I still think is really very good (especially because that's where my stats stand!).

distribution of players by win percent
Personally, I don't care about my statistics at all. Well, maybe a tiny bit, because I do look at them once in a blue moon. But when I'm playing, it is just for fun. This is what matters to me most.

There is some speculation about just how good you can get with your statistics; how much of Euchre is a matter of luck, and how much is skill. Some people think the best you can do is somewhere around 66%... and these statistics support that idea.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

new feature! download Euchre hand history

Registered players can now "replay" a hand of Euchre at World of Card Games!

At the end of each hand, you will see the image of a floppy disk appear next to your avatar. It looks like this:
replay Euchre hand history
When you click on that icon, a file will be downloaded to your computer. The file contains a link to the replayer at World of Card Games. When you paste that link into your browser address bar, you will be taken to the Euchre replayer at World of Card Games. With the click of a button, you are taken through every step of the hand, with all the cards shown.

Here's a sample link so you can try it: a case where I got lucky and our opponents were "euchred".

I've made this change along with a few bug fixes today. I hope the Euchre players will enjoy this new feature!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

new features: fan cards, limit games in list of tables

A few weeks ago, I modified the Spades layout so that cards would be fanned more widely. I'd already done this for Hearts, at the request of a player who was having trouble playing cards using a stylus on a tablet.

After the change, several players wrote to tell me that they liked it better the previous way! Now you have a choice (in Hearts and Spades only): you can "Fan Cards Wider" or more compactly; it is up to you. The screenshots below demonstrate how to do this: Just uncheck "Fan Cards Wider" in the Settings panel. This panel appears when you click your user name in the upper right corner:
default card fanning
compact card fanning
In the screenshot, you see another new setting. You can now select which card games you want to see in the "list of tables". If you never play Go Fish, and don't want to see it in the list, just uncheck that box in the "List of tables" user setting.

I hope you enjoy these new features!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

extra private table names, changes to Pinochle

I applied some fixes and updates to the server this morning.

First, it is now possible to store up to 4 extra private table names. I've written a separate blog post about this.

Double Deck Pinochle was recently introduced at World of Card Games. Immediately, I got some reports of performance issues with the game when played on Internet Explorer! I believe I have fixed this. If you had trouble before, give it a try and let me know if you still have trouble.

I also got comments that the cards in DD Pinochle are usually sorted with the high cards to the right. I've changed the game accordingly. I hope it will not be too confusing to beginners who may have become accustomed to the old sort order!

Also for DD Pinochle: if you click the "Show Meld" button, you are now shown the total of your meld:
Show Meld view now displays total meld points
This should speed up the bidding process. Please remember that when clicking the "Show Meld" button, you are only shown melds in your hand that do not require a trump suit to be chosen. This means you will not see "royal marriages" or "runs". It would get confusing showing runs - what if you had a run in two different suits? It's the same for royal marriages.

I've made some elements of the "Meld View" larger. This is what you see once trump has been chosen. Here's an example:
Previously, all types of melds were listed to the left of the "mini-cards", even if you had none of those melds. Now, as you can see, meld types are shown only if you have them. For example, in the screenshot above, Guest #48 has 1 run, 1 clubs marriage, and 1 kings around. Aces around, etc., are not listed because she has none. Please let me know if you have any trouble with this new, larger format.

how to add extra private table names at World of Card Games

I've had a few players suggest that it would be nice if more than one private table name could be stored. For example, a player might have one private table name that they share with their family, and another with a group of friends. Wouldn't it be nice if they could see both private tables in the "list of tables"?

Now they can! Caveat: you must be registered for this feature to be available to you.

First, click the Options button to bring up your options settings, and click the  "(more)" link next to your primary private table name:
more link

This brings up a new small panel. You can enter up to 4 different private table names here:
Up to four extra private table names allowed
In the example above, a player has selected private table names 'my family' and 'my friends' for Double Deck Pinochle. If they click directly on the Double Deck Pinochle game panel from the home page, they will go directly to the 'my family' table - because this is their "primary" private table name. But if they click on the "list of tables" link in the lower left corner, they will see any private tables with those two names:
extra private tables show in list of tables

Monday, August 10, 2015

Likes and Dislikes at World of Card Games

You have some control over who you play with at World of Card Games.

If you are a Registered Player, you can choose to play with other Registered Players only by setting your table option that way. It works like this: Click the "Options" button for the game you are interested in playing - e.g. Hearts:

the Options button
Next, check the "Registered Players Only" checkbox. (You may be less selective, and click the "Exclude New Users" checkbox, too. That way you'll be choosing to play with people who have played a few games at the site - this often keeps out the riff-raff.)

Now you will be seated with Registered Players Only
You can fine-tune your preferences at the level of individual players, too.

Suppose you've found a player whose playing style you really like. You want to be able to remember them very easily, without keeping a huge list of names. In this case, I recommend "liking" them. Click the "like" icon which appears to their right:
How to "like" a player

Liked players always appear as a star in the "list of tables":
When you hover your mouse over the star in the list, you will see the person's name. You can manage your likes by clicking on your user name - you will see a list of liked players, and the date when you "liked" them.

You can also "dislike" a player. Suppose someone has been rude to you, or you dislike the way they play. In this case, click the red/white x icon to their left:
Doing this doesn't immediately kick the player from your table. However, once you leave the table, you will never be seated with them again. They will never show up in your "list of tables", either. It is as if they do not play at the site, from your perspective.

You can manage your "disliked player" list by clicking on your user name, shown in the upper right corner of the screen - scroll down to view your list of liked players, disliked players, and players whose chats are hidden:
Manage Likes and Dislikes list
Currently, you may "like" and "dislike" up to 500 players. If you find you reach the limit, you may want to drop a few older ones off the list. In particular, if you've disliked a lot of Guests, the older ones may no longer even come to the site, and there's no point in keeping them on your list.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

new game - double deck pinochle!

Double Deck Pinochle is now available at World of Card Games! It's a 4-player game that combines pattern-matching abilities (think Gin Rummy) with teamwork (think Spades). The rules are described at the Pagat website.

double deck pinochle
As usual, there's a tutorial to get you started (click on the "Tutorial" button to the lower right of the Double Deck Pinochle panel on the main page). You might also want to read my Double Deck Pinochle page for beginners.

If you have not played this game before, you may want to play with robots first, to get comfortable before playing with real live humans.

I've tested the game quite a lot, but there could be bugs. If you try the game and find any problems, please let me know by sending an email to me -  marya@worldofcardgames.com - or leave a comment here.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

brief outage

Hey everyone, I got reports of 3 outages: 1 today and 2 yesterday. They were fairly brief, so far as I can tell - a few minutes in length. It helps if people report these to me. So do not hesitate to let me know if you experience a problem with the site! Screenshots can be helpful if you know how to take them, too.

I plan on restarting the server tomorrow morning, as a precaution.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

outage

The site was down for a couple of hours this morning. Sorry for the inconvenience! I'm investigating the outage.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

spades - what would you bid? #2

I took part in another tournament this morning. It was fun!

During the game I was presented with a bit of a puzzler. I was dealt 7 Spades but most of them were pretty low.

what would you bid with 7 Spades?
I wound up bidding 3, while nana bid 6. Notice the scores and bag situation. I've posted more details on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/WorldOfCardGames/photos/a.1453220478280028.1073741829.1384938725108204/1566662763602465/?type=1&theater

You don't have to be a Facebook user to see the Facebook post. I am curious to know what you would have bid, and why - you can comment here, or on Facebook.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

spades - what would you bid?

Here's a screenshot from a recent Spades card game. Check out the scores: we are nearing the end of the game. My team needs to give 1 extra trick to our opponents in order to roll them. I have no Spades at all:

click image to enlarge
When I first got this hand, I was tempted to go nil, but I didn't like the situation in my Clubs cards; not even one really low card.

So I bid 1, hoping my partner and I could roll our opponents. I really didn't think I'd be able to take much with this hand, given that I had no Spades. Since I had no Spades, I knew everyone else was holding more Spades than usual, on average. I was counting on those Spades to win most of the tricks.

Alas it was not be! Here's the final score:
we got rolled!
I was surprised when I wound up taking 3 tricks! Of course, if I had bid 3, I probably would not have actually been able to take them. Our opponents gave me 2 tricks. They discarded a card on one of my Hearts instead of playing a Spade. And when I played my King of Diamonds, they didn't take it with the Ace.

Not only did our team not roll our opponents, we got rolled ourselves. We each wound up taking 2 extra tricks (IIRC our opponents had a total bid of 6).

I'm making this post because I'm curious to get comments about what you'd bid with the hand above. You can see the situation. It's near the end of the game, and I'd like to bid 5 so that we could possibly end with a win, but there's no way I'd get 5 points out of my hand. Possibly I should have bid 2? But we still wouldn't have won, even if we hadn't rolled. Anyone have a better idea?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

block chats and kick players

A number of players have requested that they be given the ability to completely block chats. Maybe they find them distracting, or just don't type fast enough to chat effectively. They just want to play cards, that's all.

That's fine with me, and I hope that they are not being given a hard time if they don't chat... it's everyone's right to remain silent, isn't it, after all?!

Now, these players can easily ignore chats by checking the "Hide All Chats" checkbox in their Settings area. You find your Settings by clicking on your user name in the upper right corner. The new checkbox is encircled in green in the screenshot below:
use "Hide All Chats" to block chats at World of Card Games

Other players tell me that there are one or two players whose chats annoy them. They'd prefer to avoid these players' chats. There's something for these players, too. There's now a little "volume" control beside each player other than yourself. If you want to block a single player's chats, click that volume control. It stops the player's chats from being shown.

If you want to undo this action, use the "Manage Chats" area shown under your Settings in the screenshot above.
use the "Hide Chats" icon to block an individual player's chats
Please keep in mind that just because you cannot see a player's chats does not mean that they are not chatting!

Finally, there's also a new feature that has been added specifically for players of the game Twenty-Nine [and other team games]. I've had a number of people tell me that they want to be able to kick players from a table. This is the internet and there are times when someone comes in who is extremely ill-behaved. Everyone at the table agrees that this is the case, and wants them out, but their only recourse is to dislike the player and leave. This is more painful in Twenty-Nine than in other games because Twenty-Nine is a very long-lived game. Imagine playing at a table for 1 hour, when a troll comes in and starts harassing you...

For these people, I've added back the "kick player" feature. If there are four human players at a table and three players have all disliked the same, single player, then that player is ejected.

If you wind up being ejected, you may very well know why. I expect that this may get used to eject slower players in addition to trolls. I'm sorry that this can happen, since I don't think slow players should be penalized. Personally, though, I'd rather not be sitting at a table where 3 other players don't like me. So I think it's fair enough to add this feature now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

hearts options - feedback requested

I'm asking for feedback about new Hearts options. If you've played Hearts at World of Card Games, you may have noticed that there's an option to "Allow First Turn Hearts":

allow first turn hearts option
The default rules require that you cannot play Hearts on the first trick. However, if you choose this option, it is allowed, provided that you do not have any Clubs in your hand.

Over the last two years, I've had requests for several other options:
  1. Someone would like to see the Omnibus Hearts option, described at Pagat: it applies a bonus to the player who takes the Jack of Diamonds. That person gets 10 points deducted from their score, even if someone else shoots the moon or sun.
  2. Someone has a house rule that disallows passing the Queen of Spades. The idea is that by passing the Queen of Spades, two players know where it is, giving them an unfair advantage over the other two players. I haven't seen this variation before.
  3. Another user would like to see a shorter version of Hearts, in which the maximum score is perhaps 56. This would let people play a quick game when they don't have so much time.
  4. A player requests that when the Queen of Spades is played, Hearts should not be broken. Only when the first Heart card is played should Hearts be broken, allowing others to lead with Hearts.
  5. Someone is interested in seeing a redeal option which would work as follows: if a new player takes a seat that has a high score, then with the agreement of all players, the game would be reset. I'm inclined to oppose this option, because it seems to me that it's about the same as having everyone leave the table and start over.
What do you think? I cannot promise that I'll have time to implement any of these in the near future, since I have a number of issues to address that are high on my to-do list. However, it helps to know if a majority of players want a specific option, so I can prioritize accordingly.

If you have your own favorite option that you don't see here, post it in the comment section!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

spades strategy

I recently participated in one of our Jungle Gym Spades online tournaments. My partner and I progressed to Round 2, but we lost. It was a fun game... and I had a very interesting hand during Round 2. If you enjoy considering Spades strategy, I think you will find it interesting to read my discussion of this hand on the World of Card Games Facebook page. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments: https://www.facebook.com/WorldOfCardGames/photos/a.1453220478280028.1073741829.1384938725108204/1557288481206560/?type=1

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

tips to play hearts better

There's a Hearts tutorial at World of Card Games. It's designed to introduce you to the mechanics of Hearts, but barely scratches the surface when it comes to strategy. The help box has a few hints, too, but it's minimal.

After playing a few hundred games of Hearts, I think I've gotten a little better at it. This was, in part, due to some players who discussed strategy with me. Thanks to those who did so in a polite manner, you know who you are!

It's nice to share, so I wrote up a discussion of Hearts strategy and placed it on the site. There's a comment section where anyone can add their thoughts, and you can also tweet them, or post in the comments section here. Or send me an email. I will rewrite sections of that page based upon feedback.

I want to mention that I like the way that some more expert players try to help those who are beginners to the games. I don't mean the ones who mock beginners! I mean the ones who offer to explain or give a short tip to people who confess to being inexperienced. It benefits everyone to help those who are new. They are more likely to continue to play when people are friendly and not mean. It's a win-win to get more good players to your favorite card game.

server update for bug fixes

The server was down for a short time early this morning to apply a few bug fixes: in particular, the game timer that had been added with the last update was buggy, and is now fixed. Also, in Firefox, some people noticed a player's name hanging around (literally, attached to their cursor) after they clicked into a game from the list of tables. This has been fixed.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

world of card games postcards!

I had some postcards made up as advertisements for World of Card Games. The goal is to publicize the site. I don't know if this is a good strategy, but I feel there are probably a lot of people out there who would enjoy playing cards online, and they just don't realize it's an option. This is an attempt at letting people know about the site. I plan to drop the postcards off at senior centers, libraries, and similar places.

If you enjoy playing at World of Card Games, and you know some place where you could leave a card or two, write to me! My email address is marya@worldofcardgames.com. I can mail a few to you.

Here's the image that I used for the postcard (a big thanks to Karen for that glowing testimonial!). It's 8.5" x 5.5":
postcard for World of Card Games
I had these cards printed up at Staples.com. Here's a mini-review: The process is fairly easy, and the price is reasonable (about $60 for 100). I have two caveats: when you upload your image, they display that image in a way that makes it look as if it is too wide and will be cropped at the sides. If you decided to get postcards from them, you should upload your image and ignore what's displayed there. Proceed through their print process all the way until near the end, just before you have to buy. You'll be shown a "real-life" picture of your image which looks wider than what you'd seen on their edit page. The latter is just a draft and is not accurate (at least it was not for me).

It took only a few days after ordering for me to get my cards in the mail. I'm pretty happy with the result overall! Three of the cards had some bleed (red into black) but the rest are fine.

Monday, April 27, 2015

table listings show player names

Sorry for the brief downtime this morning! World of Card Games was updated so that you can now see who is sitting at each table by using the table listings. All you need to do is hover your mouse over any seat that is occupied. This can help to make a choice between tables.

player names in table listings
Have you ever wondered how long a game has been going on? You can now view the total elapsed time for your game by clicking on the table info link in the lower left corner (it shows you the total game time, which may be longer than the time you've been playing, if you entered mid-game):
elapsed game time
[Edit: I just played a game and noticed the time does not always function correctly. If you reload the page it seems to be correct, however. Next time I make changes, I'll fix this. Update: fixed this issue May 19 2015]

Tournament players will be interested to know that I've increased the time to take your turn in tourneys to 1 minute. This will help people who are sometimes affected by a spotty internet connection.

Finally, I've added a quick-setting panel that allows people who are new to the site to choose between playing with robots and/or playing with people:
quick options settings
This panel will appear if the site does not detect that you've visited there before. I did this because I'm concerned that people are coming to the site and getting confused by popping into the middle of a game, not knowing how to set their options. This way, they can make the choice to play against the computer or play against people immediately.

You may see this "quick options" panel just after you've logged out. This happens because the site doesn't realize you've visited before. You can use the "Remember this choice" checkbox to quickly set your options this way, in that case.

If you're wondering how to set options - use the Options button! Here it is for Hearts:
Options button for Hearts card game

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

other kinds of tournaments? euchre?

winning a trophy is hard work!
A few weeks ago, I created a Spades league at World of Card Games, at the request of one player. It turned out to be a fairly popular idea! We've had a few bumps in the road in getting our tournaments started, but overall I think it's been a fun experience for most of the people involved.

Running the league requires a certain amount of administrative work. Currently, I am the sole administrator and tournament director. I'm working on some tools to make it easier for others to run tournaments. That will help to make it possible for tourneys to run more frequently... And that could mean more room for tournaments or leagues in card games other than Spades.

I've had a vote (from Benno - you may have met this player on the site) to run Euchre tournaments at World of Card Games. Is anyone else interested? How about other games, for example Hearts?

I should make it clear that if people are interested in running tournaments in other games, or even forming other leagues, it's not just something that's up to me. You can start a league and run tournaments completely independent of me. There are a few sites that I know of that can be used to create leagues: Case's Ladder, MyLeague (which is a division of Case's Ladder), and Eliters. There may be more. It will take a little bit of internet savvy and some cooperation with other players, but you can totally do it if you are committed to it. I'm willing to provide support if you need it, too.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

bug fix in 29

Sorry for the disruption in service this morning! The site was down for about 10 minutes to apply some changes.

A bug has been fixed in 29. You may have noticed that sometimes a trick looked like it was going to the wrong player (it wasn't counted that way, it just looked like it). This bug is now fixed. A big thanks to Kaycie, who reported this - that was very helpful!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

more avatars!

World of Card Games was down for a brief time this morning, while some updates were applied. My apologies for the interruption in your games.

There are now 7 new avatars! Enjoy!

Friday, March 13, 2015

join the spades league!

I've set up a Spades League called "Jungle Gym Spades" at MyLeague.com. Here's the FAQ for those who are interested or curious.

jungle gym spades league
(1) What is a league, and why join?

Probably the primary reason that players join a league is to engage in a more competitive form of fun than they find in the casual, "pick-up" games online. MyLeague maintains a ranking system where you can compare your status with others. However, if you are not competitive, keep reading!

Another reason to join is to find like-minded players. A number of people at World of Card Games have set up private tables where people meet and play on a regular basis. You'll never know about these great, fun people unless someone gives you the "secret handshake" to get in. My hope is that joining the league will allow more of these folks to find each other and arrange games at specified times. MyLeague has a forum where you can post messages, and you can send "emails" to other members of the league without having to reveal your own, personal email address.

(2) What is a tournament?

A tournament is just a scheduled game... In league play it is a series of scheduled games. Several teams play, and then the winners are pitted against each other. They might go through several rounds of games before the two last winning teams face off against each other. These types of tournaments will only happen if we get enough players who are interested in it. I don't think we need tournaments to make the league a success, but I hope they will happen if enough people would enjoy them.

(3) Why do I have to join yet another site to be in a league?

In the long-term, I hope to have support for tournaments, personal messaging, and even forums directly at World of Card Games. I've opened the league to make these things available for people who'd like them right now.

(4) I don't play Spades, I want a Euchre league!

Okay! Anyone can start a league, so go ahead! If you'd rather not be an admin, I'm willing to start leagues for Euchre, Hearts, Twenty-Nine, or any of the other games on the site, if there's an interest.

(5) What happens if I join the league?

Time will tell. We need enough players in the league to make it useful to everyone. My suggestion is that after joining, you should post a message to the forum introducing yourself to everyone. That way people can get familiar with others in the league.

(6) Are there any other requirements?

You should be a registered player at World of Card Games. You need a valid email address to sign up with the league - be sure to use the same user name that you use at World of Card Games (that's user name - you do not have to use the same email address, although it is probably helpful to do so). If you have any trouble joining, please write me at marya@worldofcardgames.com. One final thing: All league members are expected to be civil to each other! Please be as polite and tolerant to everyone as you would be if they were standing in front of you.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

new statistics

The server at World of Card Games was down for a short period this morning, to apply some bug fixes and updates - sorry for the interruption in service!

There's a new category in your "stats" area: "absolute" wins and losses.

The rules for a game counting as an "absolute" win or loss are as follows:
  1. There is only 1 winner per game.
  2. If you leave a game before it ends, you forfeit that game, and it counts as a loss for you.
    1. Exception: If you are seated at a table for less than 30 seconds, it will not be counted as a forfeit if you leave. This is done to be fair to someone who takes a losing seat directly at the end of a game.
  3. Only human players are counted as winning or losing; if a bot wins or loses, it does not show up in the global statistics for absolute wins and losses.
new "absolute" statistics
This is in contrast to your "Games Played" number. That includes all games that you have been in, even if you left after 1 second! If you stay with the game until the end, that is counted in your "Games Finished" number. If you quit before the end, it is counted in your "Games Abandoned" number. So the absolute stats are  a little more lenient. They forgive you if you take a seat by accident, perhaps with a very poor losing position, and quickly leave.

These new statistics are being recorded for a couple of different reasons.

First - the original way that statistics were recorded at World of Card Games was confusing to many. These statistics are now shown as the "Relative Win Ratio". An example will explain the counting used: If you came in 1st place in Hearts, you were counted as winning against 3 other players. If you came in 2nd place, you were counted as winning against 2 other players and losing against 1 player. This counting method is relatively expressive - a person who comes in 2nd place a lot is probably a better player than someone who comes in 3rd place a lot, but if you count both placings as "losses" then you'll never see this distinction. However, most people expect a single winner for a game! This new statistic provides that clarity.

As an aside, the above counting method would not lead to confusion in team games like Spades, because there are exactly two winners and two losers (the winning and losing teams) in that type of game. It was really only a problem in Hearts, 3-5-8, and Go Fish.

Second - it has been proposed that some players are leaving a losing position  shortly before a game ends so as to avoid having a loss counted against them. With the new forfeit rule, there will be no encouragement to leave a game early. I am a little skeptical that this will help with the "quitting players" problem, but we shall see.

These new statistics are experimental, so don't get too attached to them yet. In the next few weeks or months, I may make modifications based upon feedback; in that case I'll probably wipe the new stats and start fresh. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

1000 facebook likes

1k Facebook likes!
This morning, I noticed that there are now 1000 Facebook likes on the World of Card Games main page! Thanks to everyone who gave it a thumbs-up, and who helped it to grow by inviting their friends to come play as well!

Friday, February 27, 2015

the problem of quitters: part II

If you haven't seen it already, read Part I for context.

There have been various suggestions for solving the problem of quitters. There is speculation that people who quit games early are protecting their statistics. This is because the Win/Loss ratio shown in your stats does not account for abandoned games; it just gives the ratio of all games won to all games lost. A loss is not recorded against you until a game ends, so leaving early does not show up in your stats.

If this is true, it might help to penalize people who are leaving the game early. It has been suggested to penalize such drop-outs with 1 (or more!) losses in their stats. Another suggestion involved imposing a penalty in the form of a time delay before a quitter can join a new game.

The problem with such solutions is that 1) it doesn't seem likely that they will work and 2) they will cause innocent drop-outs to be penalized as well.

There are reasons that a person might unintentionally leave a game. I've been in games where someone innocently clicked the "leave table" link. And sometimes a person reloads the web page and finds that they've been kicked out of their game. In such cases, the player rushes to get back to their seat, because they want to stay in their game. Since there's no way for the site to tell why someone left the table, inadvertently penalizing such a player with a delay (or a loss) just seems cruel.

There are a couple of reasons that I think a penalty won't work for intentional quitters.

I suspect that a number of quitters are just trying to avoid the psychological impact of something "bad" happening to them. We've all seen quitters leave just before they get hit with the Queen of Spades in Hearts, or before taking a trick when they've bid nil in Spades. People do this even early in the game, when there's plenty of time to make up for such a setback. People who do this will continue to quit, no matter what penalties are imposed.

On top of that, the statistics are not shared. If you're quitting to make them look good, then you know that your stats are meaningless. Given that fact, I have a feeling that quitters are not motivated by their stats.

In any case, as an experiment, I will soon be introducing a new statistic. It is designed to more clearly show whose stats look good because they're really winning more than average, and whose look good because they're evading losses.

Friday, February 13, 2015

server update - exclude games in progress, seventh card option in twenty-nine, etc

This morning, World of Card Games was down for a short time to apply some bug fixes and new features.

Exclude Games in Progress option
Here's a brief summary:
  1. There is now an additional option to "Exclude Games in Progress". If you only want to be seated at tables where the game has not yet started, choose this Option (click the Options button to get to your game options). Keep in mind, it may take you a bit longer to get started in this case.
  2. The List of Tables now shows how long a game has been in progress. If you really dislike being seated at a long-running table, this is a good feature to use!
  3. A few people reported to me that when joining a game in progress, sometimes their cards did not appear in front of them. This bug is now fixed. Please let me know if you see this happen again; it should not! A big thank you goes out especially to "no bots plz" and "davidly" - the two players who gave me enough information to reproduce this bug, so that I could squash it!
  4. There is now an audio alert when a game that was paused is restarted.
  5. You may use the "replace robots" link after a game has started, now. Previously it could only be used at the start of a game.
  6. The "Seventh Card" option has been added to Twenty-Nine. I've written about that in a separate blog post.

seventh card option in twenty-nine

A number of players have written asking that some variations of the game "Twenty-Nine" (29) be allowed at World of Card Games. One popular request is the "Seventh Card" option. Today, this option is available, and it is turned on by default. (If you absolutely don't want to play with this option, you will have to edit your Options, and set "Allow Seventh Card" to "No").

Choosing the 7th card to decide the trump suit
The Seventh Card option gives you a new choice for choosing the trump suit. If you choose this option, the trump suit is taken from the 7th card that is dealt to you. The 7th card is placed to one side of your hand. It is not allowed to be used until you cannot follow suit (i.e., you cannot lead with this card). When you do play it, the trump suit is declared.

The 7th card is 8 of Clubs; the trump suit is Clubs
Trump is usually declared when a player cannot follow suit. However, if the high bidder chose the 7th card, then they do not have to declare trump when they are unable to follow suit. They also do not have to play their 7th card. Instead, they can discard an off-suit card, if it appears strategically wise to do so. This keeps the trump suit secret for longer than is usual in 29.

I hope you enjoy this new option! Please let me know if you see any bugs related to it. I'll be adding options for other variations when I have more time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

server update

World of Card Games was down for a few minutes this morning. Sorry for the interruption everyone! It's back up now.

Friday, January 23, 2015

the problem of quitters: part I

Possibly the most frequent complaint that I get at World of Card Games is about people quitting games. I've been collecting some statistics to see how the site is affected by habitual quitters. Here are the results!

The charts below are histograms that show the number of players divided up according to their quitting patterns. Players who rarely quit - between 0 and 10% of their games - are "bucketed" in the first column. Players who quit a lot - 90%-100% of their games - are bucketed in the last column. The rest are divided into buckets between those percentiles.

Private tables are ignored in these statistics, as are tables with only a single human player. Quitting from such tables is not a major problem. On the other hand, if you enter a game and then quickly leave, you are getting counted as a quitter for the purpose of these statistics. So the charts may make things look a little (or a lot?) worse than they are.

Hearts is badly hit by quitters. Hearts games are not usually very lengthy, and I suspect this game is one where people quit because they want to avoid a loss.


Spades is also pretty badly affected by quitters. I've noticed that people will sometimes quit when their bid is set (especially if it's a nil bid), or when they get set because they couldn't cover their partner's nil bid. Maybe they fear their partner's ire? I've also noticed people quitting when they are close to losing, here.


Euchre is a fairly quick game - you are usually done in 10 minutes. Quitters are not as big a problem, here.
Twenty-Nine has a huge problem with quitting. However, it's perfectly understandable - it's a game that can take several hours, as the scores of each team ebb and flow. This is just the nature of the game. So far as I can tell, many people enjoy this game, despite the fact that you often just have to quit to get on with your life. It's interesting.

 

Gin Rummy has statistics that are similar to Euchre. I'm not sure why. It's a 2-player game so it does tend to take less time.
One noticeable thing is that the games that take longer tend to be affected more by quitting. I do wonder how big a factor this is in quitting.