The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Letters - August, 2001

Mark Jackson: In his glowing review of Wyatt Earp, Matthew Baldwin's account of Liar's Dice/Call My Bluff/Bluff is, well, wrong. (Mind you, I'm in agreement about how good Wyatt Earp is... one of my favorite new games of the last 12 months.)

But Matthew probably experienced the games in the order I did—Perudo (bought at a Toys'r'Us) followed much later by Liar's Dice... leading him to mistakenly believe one came before the other.

I checked the copyright data on my boxes:

  • 1987 Milton Bradley Liar's Dice
  • 1994 University Games Perudo

Then I checked Luding under Richard Borg:

  • 1987 Milton Bradley Original Liar's Dice
  • 1993 FX Schmid Bluff
  • 1998 FX Schmid Bluff
  • 1997 FX Schmid Call My Bluff
  • no date Milton Bradley Call My Bluff
  • no date Perudo

Whoops. (Imagine my surprise to see Richard credited... I'd always thought they'd ripped him off. There is no designer credit on the box and I've long since cannibalized it for dice cups & dice so the rules are long gone. Does anyone know for sure what happened?)

Richard winning the Spiel des Jahres was well-deserved... it's one of the best dice/bluff games around. The $25,000 question is whether the folks who designed Perudo tread dangerously close to the edge of plagiarism. (Granted, they changed a few rules and got rid of the very helpful board while adding a faux Incan theme... then again, if Luding credits Richard, maybe he ripped himself off to keep food on the table.)

GGA - My understanding is that, Luding notwithstanding, Perudo is not by Richard Borg but rather an old traditional game. (That is, it's been around for many, many years. 100+?) That University Games published one in 1994 does not really mean anything (just as someone publishing a Chess set doesn't indicate that Chess was published the year of that sets manufacture).

Reiner Knizia writes in his book "Dice Games Properly Explained" (ISBN 0-7160-2112-9) about a South American game called Dudo which is obviously the game in question although he doesn't give dates for its creation.

Richard Borg: Liar's Dice was created from experiences after ball games in the bar, playing Liar's Poker with dollars. Everyone had so much fun, and at that time I was doing some D&D design stuff, we took it to dice, and the rest is history. I did not know of Perudo or any other game like it, sometimes ignorance is bliss. ;-)

GGA - The Liar's Poker Richard is referring to is the game played with the serial numbers of dollar bills and not the game played with poker dice. Play is simple - everyone has their own dollar bill. Players take turns making claims about the numbers on all the bills combined. ("I think there are seven 3's.") On your turn you must either up the "bid" or challenge the previous bidder. It had never occurred to me prior to Richard mentioning it but this heritage for Liar's Dice is obvious. Which gets me wondering about the origins of Liar's Poker. It seems entirely plausible to me that the game originated as a variation of Dudo which gives Liar's Dice a rather interesting and circular ancestry.

Stewart Tame: [Concerning Stock Car Championship Racing Card Game] According to Funagain Games, it's out of print.

That's a shame, as it was a reasonably fun game. I've played it a  few times at Ucon, an annual gaming convention held at the University of Michigan.

Unlike most racing games such as Formula De, the Stock Car Championship Racing Card Game (perhaps the unwieldy name was one of the reasons it went out of print?) does not involve moving cars around a track. The cars (the person running it Ucon invested in a number of die-cast models of actual stock cars) are instead arranged in a straight line and jockey for position within that line. The assumption is apparently that the cars will remain in a close pack throughout the race and, while I've never watched a stock car race, this seems reasonable enough. The gameplay is as follows (this is all from memory as I don't own a copy of the game myself. I'm sure I've missed a few details.)

First a card is dealt from the track deck. Most cards simply show a  number of laps which players must match using speed cards from their hands. Sometimes the card will be a disaster and players will be required to discard a particular card-type from their hands in order not to lose a turn. Then the players take turns, with turn order determined by the speed cards they played. On their turn players play X number of cards and draw up to Y to replace them. I don't recall the values of X and Y offhand but I remember that X being potentially much larger than Y, so that I had to carefully consider whether the diminished hand size was worth the number of cards I wanted to play. Typical cards involve Pass attempts on both the left and right, and the players being passed can play blocking cards if they have them. The game ends after a set number of laps (usually about 200) with the person in the lead declared the winner. The cards in the track deck have varying numbers of laps on them (anywhere from 1-25 or so, I seem to recall) so the players don't know exactly when the race will end.

The game was sold as a starter set containing four player decks and one track deck. Additional player decks were available, so that the number of players per game was limited only by the number of player decks on hand. Quite a fun game, and I'm saddened to learn that it's no longer available.

There used to be a website ( but it's no longer up. I also have the following contact info for the publishers:

McGartlin Motorsport Design
P.O. Box 9644
Chesapeake, VA 23321
(757) 465 - 9540

GGA - Actually, as has been pointed out by several readers, the game is still in print and their website is at:

Mark Franceschini: I would like to thank you for the fine work you and your colleagues continue to produce in The Games Journal. I recently read a piece by Bruno Faidutti entitled Games and the Anguish of Life. Excellent work, until the very last paragraph.

Where Mr. Faidutti goes wrong—terribly wrong—is when he expounds on a subject of which he is, quite obviously, completely ignorant: religion. In response, I (a Traditional Roman Catholic and gamer of more than twenty years) will offer only this. It is an excerpt from The Young Man's Guide by Rev. F.X. Lasance, and originally published in 1910:

"One day, St. Aloysius found himself in company with some young friends, and engaged in a game of Chess. Someone suddenly asked what each member of the company would do if he knew that he was to die within an hour. One said he should repair to the church and engage in prayer; another remarked that the best thing would be to go to confession. But St. Aloysius, whose conscience was completely at peace, quietly said: "I should continue the game, because I am playing in accordance with the will of God, and the wish of my superiors."

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga is Patron Saint of Youth. Perhaps he should also be Patron of Gamers! Nevertheless, I enjoyed Mr. Faidutti's piece, and look forward to more of his insights on gaming and gamers. I think he needs to consider that if devout Catholics like Saint Aloysius can enjoy a good game, perhaps he was wrong about "self-delusion" and the "simplistic explanations of the world, particularly religious ones." And I'll wager Saint Aloysius knew more about gaming than Mr. Faidutti does of theology!

The Games Journal is a great resource, and I wouldn't miss it. Keep up the good work!

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