You know, it’s never a good sign for a game when you forget that you’ve played it. Prince of Pies was one of those games. I was looking at In Hand cards games, saw it and realized I had made and played a copy.
Okay. Let’s get this part of the way. Prince of Pies is a Print and Play solitaire that’s played in hand. So you have to make it yourself and you play it by yourself and the cards stay in your hands the whole time.
The deck consists of double-sided, double-ended cards so every card has four faces. The cards are Jacks, Kings and Pies. You use Jacks to get pies and manipulate the deck. Kings give you penalties and two Kings in a row ends the game. Pies are points.
Here’s the basic idea. You have a hand of four cards with the draw deck under the leftmost card, which will always be a Jack. Every hand is assessed by the first and last card. If it is two Jacks, you take any pies between them for points. If the last card is a King, the King’s special power goes off. If there are two kings in a row, the game ends. If the last card is a pie, nothing happens. If you didn’t remove any cards, discard the second card. Draw back up to four.
Every Jack has some kind of special ability (rotate a card, flip a card, swap Jacks, swap a stolen pie with a pie in the hand) They can use it once and then get replaced with next Jack you draw.
Okay. Here’s why Prince of Pies doesn’t really interest me enough to remember it. Deciding to use the Jack power is the only decision you can make. And sometimes it can be quite effective but most of the game comes down to cycling through the deck and hoping luck works in your favor.
I found myself comparing Prince of Pies to the Shooting Party, another PnP solitaire that can be played In Hand. The Shooting Party is also about cycling through the deck and has a fairly simple core strategy of filling up your hand to control your discards. The decisions for optimal play are pretty obvious. But you still have to actually do some work in order to make it happen, as opposed to just drawing cards and hoping for the best.
The Prince of Pies isn’t broken. It works as designed. It’s just… boring. There are older In Hand games, like Foothold Enterprises or the Zed Deck, that have held up better and newer ones that are definitely better.
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