2. Circumspect Cards

Two fingered salute

  • The deed- How many cards did your opponent just draw? It was only a split second thing, but it looked like he drew two cards, rather than one – and that’s because they did. Slipping an extra card off the top off the deck isn’t too hard for even the clumsiest of players, and once you have both you can choose the one you wanted.
  • Warning signs- It’s hard to pre-empt this trick, but the aftermath can be fairly obvious, if your opponent is consistently ‘finding’ cards stashed all over the board, in multiple discard piles etc, then he may be drawing too many- especially if the found cards are all suspiciously low in value..
  • Prevention- If you think that your opponent is drawing too many cards, you can make it harder for them by being more clinical yourself, maintain the integrity of your decks, flip slowly and ‘help’ your opponent by pointing out loose cards around the place, if they are taking over the odds hopefully they’ll figure out you’re onto them and stop it, otherwise it’s time to call them out.
  • Dastardly rating- 3, it’s a nasty cheat and hard to spot, but it lacks the pre-meditated criminal intent of other cheats.

“As far as the most memorable cheat I've ever encountered, it was while playing a popular ccg. There was a feel good story about a vision impaired player who used sleeves marked with Braille.

Short version of the story, this player was a massive cheater. He would constantly touch his cards (Braille symbols could be felt through the back of the sleeves) so he could tell what was going to be drawn next, knew what cards he had face down, etc. He also had a special mat/apron with pockets to hold his deck and cards. He had a trick to get his ideal first turn & draw hand by hiding cards in the sleeves and then putting them on top after his opponent had shuffled/cut his decks.”

An ace up his sleeve.. literally..

  • The deed- This chap always seems to have the best luck in cards, come the moment- come the card.. almost supernaturally in fact, is it because he has something up his sleeve perhaps, or maybe under the edge of the board or even stashed under a character card.. The art of stealing a card from the deck to feed into your hand later has been around as long as card games have, but these days unfortunately the law takes a dim view of calling them out for a gunfight a high noon…
  • Warning signs- cards in unlikely places is again a sign of naughtiness, as is an abnormal amount of fidgeting with sleeves or pockets around the table. An obvious catch (if you have a mentalist memory) is when the same card comes out twice during one shuffle- either because they palmed it the first time, or because they bought multiple decks to start with and secreted the best cards around themselves.
  • Prevention- Like all card scams spotting it is hard unless you catch them in the act… but like loaded dice this one is almost impossible to spot, just keep your eyes on their hands during shuffles and draws if you are suspicious..
  • Dastardly rating- 5 pre-meditated and deliberately designed to win at al costs, these scumbags are irredeemable…

Making his mark

  • The deed- this player always seems to know what to do next, their skill in predicting where and when to act gives the impression of a tactical genius, but it some cases it does seem a little too good to be true, Cards can (and have) been marked in many ways, from smalls nicks on the edges, folds in unusual places and the odd dot of magic marker here and there (some ink got spilled on them when I was painting..) to even more unscrupulous characters having unique backs printed for their personal decks that look almost identical to the untrained eye. In any case this allows them to judge what is about to happen with ease, planning their turns accordingly.
  • Warning signs- you may be able to see damage or wear to the deck that seems a little too focused, or you may be able to spot your opponent doing things in a strange (but very confident) order, if you notice them peering too intently at the back of their deck then you might want to have a good look yourself.
  • Prevention- There’s no way of predicting or off-setting this cheat without an outright confrontation unfortunately, like weighted dice a Marked deck is just something which can only be caught, not stopped. (barring a TO insisting on new decks every tournament, sealed until play begins.)
  • Dastardly rating- 5, mean, pre-meditated, hard to spot, impossible to prevent- this has all the hallmarks of an absolute git taking part in the game,

This is not a CCG…

  • The deed- The players deck could be favouring them once again, this time with a surprising number of high cards, or perhaps it’s the opposite- you can’t believe that they haven’t drawn a black joker at any point so far (the black joker in question is of course at home, or in a back pocket safely out of circulation). A deck builder will have customised his cards to optimise his game- sometimes by replacing poor cards with better ones (rarely  face cards as they are too memorable) or by taking out key ‘bad’ cards to prevent them stopping play.
  • Warning signs- usually a very long streak of good luck is the precursor to discover there has been a deck builder amongst you,  but as to actually spotting it- it is almost impossible, some TO do have random deck checks to ensure fair play, but as this can seem a little draconian it is somewhat rare.
  • Prevention- Sealed decks are the only guaranteed prevention, even deck checks at registration are easily subverted by bringing a spare.
  • Dastardly rating- 5- hard to spot, hard to stop, and definitely pre-planned this is a high ranking form of scumbaggery.

“He had played 3 games already, and done well, but against his fourth player he got carried away and went through his whole deck and his draw hand in one turn, so he needed a reshuffle, good job his opponent had a sharp memory, as he realised he hadn’t seen a black joker all turn. Of course the cuprit told the TO he had ‘no idea’ that the Black Joker wasn’t there..” 

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