May I Have This Cordial Minuet?

This lion is totally not into Cordial Minuet.

An occult-themed game of skill where players use magic squares to try to generate real cash all rooted in the developer’s own experiences with Texas hold ’em poker? Why yes, Jason Rohrer does have a new game in the works, thanks for asking. It’s called Cordial Minuet because an occult-themed game without an anagram would be even sadder than a gaming news article without a pun.

The website for the game itself reads like a cross between a self-help seminar and a grimoire but Kotaku had a play and what they describe is far less demonic ritual and far more numerical mind games for money.

The idea is that you want end up with a higher score than your opponent by making choices about how you use a numbered grid. You and an anonymous opponent are presented with a 6×6 magic square where every column and row adds up to 111. You both have the same magic square but your opponent’s will have been rotated 90 degrees so your rows are their columns and vice versa.

Each round you will pick a column of numbers for yourself. You will also pick a column for the other person. Because of the 90 degree rotation that column will show up as a row on their board and will intersect with the column they picked for themselves. It’s the squares where these intersections fall which are of interest and they’re what you’re trying to manipulate.

Say there’s a column with a few super high numbers – a 34 and a 35, perhaps – you might want to pick that because you could end up with a good score, but you’ll also risk your opponent guessing what you’re up to and them picking a row which actually intersects you on a 3 or a 6. Instead you could pick a safer column with less of a spread of numbers and try to guard against and catastrophic losses by sacrificing the potential highs. But maybe that’s what your opponent will THINK you’re doing and you should go back to the original plan. Or will they expect this crafty double bluff so maybe you should actually go for an even riskier column because they’ll never expect that at all! After decision paralysis has set in you’ll probably go for the one with the most 4s in. 4 is a great number. 4 won’t let you down.

Strategising

After all the columns on your board are used, either as picks for yourself or as rows for your opponent the winner is the necromancer (or player, whatever – I have no idea how far Rohrer’s going to go with the occult trappings) whose intersection squares add up to the highest number.

The point of all this agonised decision making is a) because it could be fascinating and b) because it would theoretically make all aspects of the game subject to player skill rather than random chance which is a key factor in deciding whether a game contravenes or is subject to particular gambling legislation.

Which brings us on to the sordid topic of coin. The ability to safely skirt gambling laws is important because you can only play Cordial Minuet if you put up real money. “The drama and emotional anguish is magnified tremendously when there’s something real at stake,” is how Rohrer explained the decision to Kotaku. Should you prove good at necromancy/picking columns you can cash out and be sent your winnings via cheque after paying a $1.50 admin fee (I assume one of the circles of Hell has a cheque-routing business on the side – probably the fourth). Rohrer himself takes a 10 percent cut of the winner’s earnings for each game.

I find the maths-meets-mindgames aspect intriguing. Alice doesn’t, by the way. She’s all “Pip, just sign up for Gala Bingo.” WHATEVER, ALICE. But no-one seems to be discussing the most important aspect: Would you watch a show called Late Night Cordial Minuet?

32 Comments

  1. RedViv says:

    Late Night Cordial Minuet should be a softly erotic show of melodic dances and discussions on the arts, hosted by a lady assuming the role of Julie d’Aubigny. Nothing else.

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      Whereas a Late Night Minuet Cordial should be a surprisingly sweet whiskey cocktail.

  2. tasteful says:

    i need to know what the anagram is

    • tumbleworld says:

      It appears to be “intercludiamo”, the Italian for “We are enfolding [something]”…

    • SuddenSight says:

      I strongly recommend the comment’s on Kotaku’s article for answers to this question. Some of my favorites:
      “Curtained Limo” – madcatz
      “Milder Caution” – SmeaGollum
      “Demonic Urinal” – Dan Seitz

      After reading through this I feel like Pip must have a firmer understanding of occult anagrams than I do. My money is still on the limo.

    • paranoydandroyd says:

      I FIGURED IT OUT!

      Demonic Ritual

    • iucounu says:

      “Manicured Toil”
      “Outed Criminal”
      “Mortician Duel”
      “Erudition Clam”
      “Demonic Ritual”
      “Cream Dilution”
      “Delirium Canto”

      Hey it’s a pretty fun set of letters! I know which one I’d have my money on…

      • hotmaildidntwork says:

        I don’t know what the answer is, but whatever the answer is it should have been Mortician Duel.

      • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

        I want to see a Cordial Minuet Anagram Jam now.

    • paranoydandroyd says:

      Visit the site. It gives you two letters of the correct answer at the bottom.

  3. tumbleworld says:

    So this is basically a monetized version of Vizzini’s poison cup game from The Princess Bride?

  4. tormos says:

    Jason Roher continues his trend of games that I would never want to play but make me say “oh.” “my.”

  5. Turin Turambar says:

    So uh…… is Jason Roher a friend from the RPS staff? Alec Meer in particular?

    He is a minor indie dev, one of thousands and thousands… and I see several misc. interviews with him, and just for one game he did, The Castle Doctrine, RPS did a presentation article, afterwards two articles with an interview, then two articles of impressions (was the game so big and important you had to do a two-part?), another article announcing the alpha, and another one more recent when the alpha progressed.
    Later there is another article about his opinion of Steam offers, and another interview… etc you get the idea. Even when he wins a GDC challenge, you made an article about it. Do you always make an article about the gdc design challenge winner every year? Searching a bit, it seems only the one Roher won was featured…

    • tormos says:

      in re GDC design challenge: the year that Rohrer won (2013) was the last year that the Game Design Challenge was run at GDC. It was also only the second year of extensive GDC coverage at RPS (in years prior to 2012 they had run at most 4 articles a year on the subject). It was also the second year in a row that Rohrer had won the Game Design Challenge.
      Conclusion: the hive mind writes about what they like and you are a cotton headed ninny muggins

    • JP says:

      He’s made several notable indie games, and was one of the early wave of visible indie devs circa 2007-8.

      Are you suggesting he is not notable, that his games are overrated, or something else? Your insinuation of corruption is a smokescreen for some sort of value judgment, talk about that instead.

      • Turin Turambar says:

        I remember Passage, which I played it and remember Sleep is Death got some traction.

        Corruption? nah. It just seemed…. weird. a bit biased?
        I would say he is note worthy for some articles, but not enough for that pouring. It seems Alec has a hardon for him :P

        • RobF says:

          No dude. It seems that someone who writes videogames has articles written about him on a videogame blog.

          That is the ENTIRE long and short of what you’ve turned up here. Sorry to disappoint.

        • Dinger says:

          I, for one, laud your sharp, investigative bent, uncovering a clear case of corruption. Obviously, once again, an RPS contributor is clearly responsible for a review he (in this case) had nothing to do with. No doubt, as you rightly intuited, this is due to the sexual transitivity of interminability. Just as internet trolls are without end, so too is Horace, the Lares of House Shotgun. Thus, any, to use the parlance of our times, “boner”, presented by one RPS member, must, by the sexual transitivity of Horace’s interminability, be, mutatis mutandis (or, in Italian, mutate mutandine), felt by every other contributor.
          Many things are without end on the Internet. Choose your deity wisely.
          tl;dr: don’t feed, etc.

          On the game: yeah, this looks like another awesome concept by Mr. Rohrer. It evokes the ambiguous space between esoteric knowledge and sorcery occupied by such numerological beasts as the Spheres of Apuleius. In fact, what he needs to do to ice the cake is make the sequences of numbers somehow dependent on the current phase of the moon. That’s a rule of game design often overlooked: Selenomancy makes every game better.

    • Joseph says:

      dude rohrer is super famous and literally everyone in games talks about him. His business is being pressworthy — it’s not surprising that press gets in touch with him (or, perhaps, he gets in touch with press) whenever he does a thing.

      • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

        Also, Passage was one of the first big indie things to become famous. Even if one thinks his work is overrated, he got a lot of visibility from getting in on the ground floor.

        But yeah, his stuff is pretty conceptually interesting. Some of his games are more fun to talk about than to play, I think…

    • iainl says:

      Rohrer has cornered the market in games that not a lot of people actually buy, because the ideas he’s playing with are kind of off-putting to the casual player (i.e. mainstream, not as in Farmville necessarily). But for the same reason, they’re interesting ideas to write about, and so people (not just Alec) do. Much like the outer edge of modern art and contemporary music, he’s doing the weird stuff that might just end up inspiring someone else do do something cool but less all-out unbearable down the road.

      • pepperfez says:

        I think the most interesting thing about Rohrer’s games is how off-putting they are on a human, as opposed to gamer, level: “Magnifying emotional anguish” is very nearly a description of his whole oeuvre.

        • tormos says:

          Castle Doctrine was very much this for me. It made me wonder what it was like to live in his head.

          • Kelron says:

            Check out his blog sometime, he writes a lot of in-depth posts about his games, both on the inspiration and the mechanics.

  6. MacTheGeek says:

    Each game will have an unknown but ultimately quantifiable amount of randomness to it. That randomness is the degree to which “eeny, meeny, miney, moe” plays a role in your opponent’s decision-making. If the governmental bodies in your area frown on money-based gaming with any amount of randomness, this one will get smacked down too.

    It’s probably possible to write some sort of column-choosing algorithm that will give a player a slight edge. But the 10% rake is ridiculously high; a player needs a 55% success rate just to break even. Perhaps “Demonic Ritual” isn’t really supposed to be a game to be played for profit, but instead a titular commentary on gambling in general?

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      You mean it essentially says that no matter how skill-based you make gambling be, it’s still gambling and therefore depends on luck. I wouldn’t put it past Roher.

  7. meepmeep says:

    This isn’t just a game, this is a direct lifting of exactly how game theoretic methods are presented in the literature. Just a maximin analysis over multiple rounds, no? Chapter 3 of Myerson.

    Where’s the originality?

  8. Wytefang says:

    Wow does this look lame. Yawn.

  9. someloser says:

    A Medicinal Rout led to an Unclaimed Riot today as a Diatonic Lemur performed a Maudlin Erotic Canto Delirium for the Cordite Alumni on the announcement of a new Jason Rohrer game.

    “Rancid Emu Toil,” some bystanders were heard to say, “I hope they enjoy their Mini Toad Lucre”