1. It's a gambling game.
2. the meanings of the four letters (great, ok, nothing happens, lose).
3. It can be played with a single dreydl that's passed around.
This all seems to lend itself to a push your luck game, where the primary decision you're making is how many times to spin the dreydl, given shifting circumstances.
This year, predictably enough, there are still Jewish gamers who still think that Dreydl is a boring non-game (unsurpisingly; it is) and want people to come up with a plausible alternative. So I feel inspired:
War of Lights
A simple war game, played with a Dreydl, a napkin, and 9 distinct Gelt per player.
Each player should take 9 gelt of the same color. If you don't have 9 distinct gelt for each player, you can mark them by dripping wax onto the foil, marking them distinctly with a knife -- or simplify slightly by only having each player have five gelt (placed as a horizontal cross).
Everyone also takes a napkin and divides it into 9 squares (ie, in thirds, both ways). Put one piece of gelt on each square of your napkin. All other players do the same.
Your napkin is your base.
The center is your spawn point.
Your 4 corners are the exit/entry points.
The game is played in turns (to determine who goes first, have everyone spin the dreydl. The person who spins best (gimmel > hey > nun > shin) goes first; on a tie, the tied players spin again.
On your turn, you can do one of:
1. Move cross-napkin from a corner square to any matching opponent's corner square (1,1 to an opponent's 1,1, etc)
2. Move any piece of yours on a napkin
3. A safe Spawn (on your own napkin).
4. A risky Spawn (on your own napkin).
Moves are horizontal, diagonal, or corner to matching corner.
Whenever you move into an occupied square, spin the dreydl:
Gimel: eliminate the attacked piece, and your piece must move into the space it occupied.
Hey: eliminate the attacked piece, and your piece does not move.
Nun: Push. Nothing happens.
Shin: The attacking piece is eliminated.
To safely spawn, you must either have two pieces on opposite sides of your unoccupied center square (spawn point), and have fewer than your starting number of pieces. Take one of your eliminated pieces and place it on your spawn point.
To riskily spawn, you must have at least one piece adjacent to your spawn point, have fewer than your starting number of pieces, and spin the dreydl.
Gimmel: Spawn a piece on your spawn point, and you may move it to an adjacent empty square.
Hey: Spawn a piece on your spawn point.
Nun: Nothing happens.
Shin: The spawning piece is eliminated (parthinogenesis is risky).
A player is eliminated once they have no pieces left.
The winner of the game is the first player who occupies all (or two if there are more than 3 players in the game) opposing spawn points, or is the last player who still has pieces left.
Obviously, this game is loosely inspired by Andy Looney's Martian Coasters.
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