Risk it all or play it safe in Vabanque, a push-your-luck game co-created by Citadels designer Bruno Faidutti, that’s finally seeing an English-language release after almost two decades.
Based on an expression used by gamblers during the 18th century to describe taking a big risk with the threat of losing everything, Vabanque is a bluffing game that sees players competing with one another to win the most money at the casino tables. In Vabanque, three to six players engage in a series of four rounds that see them betting their chips on different poker tables in the hopes of collecting all the winnings. However, the only way to successfully gain any money from a table is to either be the only player to place their token there or through the use of trap cards.
All players receive a set of three cards, with each one performing a different action on the casino table it’s placed on. At the start of each round, players choose which tables to place their chips on. As the rounds continue, players will need to place chips of a higher value on the casino tables, with any previously placed chips remaining there as well - meaning that players can win ever-increasing amounts of money with every new round.
Once players have placed their chips, they then need to decide where to play which cards. Playing a raise card on a table increases the value of the winnings currently placed at the table, with multiple raise cards able to be played on one table. Otherwise, players can choose to play a trap card on one of the 12 possible tables - or a bluff card masquerading as a trap card - in the hopes that no other players will do the same. Should a player reveal they have placed a trap card on a table with no opposing trap cards, then they collect all the winnings from that table instead of the players that have placed their tokens there. If there are multiple trap cards played on the same table, the players that placed trap cards don’t win anything.
Once players have played all their action cards facedown, then the players can choose to move their token up to four tables in a clockwise direction. If a player places their token on a table with no opposing trap cards, they win the total amount of money held on that table - even if other players have placed their token there as well. Whichever player has the largest total winnings by the end of the fourth round is named the winner.
The latest reprint of Vabanque features brand new art by Clément Masson, the artist behind auction game Five Tribes, and Yolaine Glénisson, alongside newly designed components for the game. The rules in this version of the bluffing game remain largely unchanged from the 2001 original, which featured German-language rules. A Japanese-language edition was released in 2017.
Besides Bruno Faidutti - who also co-designed party game Diamant - Vabanque was co-created by Leo Colovini, the designer behind pirate prison escape game Cartagena and spy adventure game Inkognito.
The Kickstarter campaign for the reprint of Vabanque is live until December 3rd, with a pledge of €36 (£33) getting backers a copy of the core game set to arrive in December 2021.