Good As Gold: Jason Rohrer Launches Cordial Minuet

I have a few dollars in my account for this still. C'mon Cordial Minuet, Pip need's some new tenths of a penny...

Cordial Minuet [official site] – Jason Rohrer’s arcane-themed magic square betting game – has officially launched. As you might expect given Rohrer’s previous game launches this one also involves a fair bit of showmanship in the form of a gold amulet ‘n’ cash giveaway.

I’ve not played since pre-alpha so I’d imagine it will have been tweaked a little in the interim – at least if only to implement a more occult-y user interface – but the game is based around a 6×6 magic square. You and you opponent pick rows and columns from the square for both yourself and the other person. The boxes where these intersect determines the numbers which go towards your final total. You’ll also be able to bet between rounds, trying to work out whether you’ll have the higher final total, perhaps even psyching your opponent out with your behaviour. You can see the video explanation after the jump:

It intrigues me from a player point of view because it’s about probability and reading a stranger’s actions. It was interesting to Rohrer because he wanted to create a game with a similar emotional experience to poker. I remember speaking to him last year about it for RPS and the involvement of real money was important to him because it makes people care about the game in a particular way, even when they’re only playing with fractions of a cent. I’m now wondering how it will be viewed in terms of gambling laws in various countries and states.

It’s not a game everyone is pleased about. I remember that when that earlier interview/preview went up there were a fair few comments about the destructive side of gambling and preferring we not cover the game. I’m covering it because I think Cordial Minuet has the power to prompt interesting scenarios – recursive analysis of behaviour, probability, minimising and maximising likelihoods. It’s mechanically interesting to me and would be with or without the money aspect. But given those earlier concerns it probably also bears repeating that, while you might just be betting for fractions of a penny in a given game, the upper limit for a buy in is theoretically $999 million. Rohrer’s libertarian approach means you need to be sure of your ability to set your own limits and stick to them before ever booting it up.

And what about these amulets, then?

Certain players have been designated as part of a secret Cabal. If you play against one of those you earn and lose points based on how many coins you earn or lose in those games. Coming top of the leaderboard on one of the twelve days the competition is running gets you an amulet (some are copper, some silver and some gold) and up to $200, while runners up get smaller amounts of cash. Each person can only receive one prize. If you’re thinking about entering or playing there’s some more info here.

17 Comments

  1. kwyjibo says:

    Do you still have to collect your winnings via an actual paper check, or can I gamble anonymously with fictional internet money like bitcoins and alladvantage points?

    • Jason Rohrer says:

      Paper check is still the only way you can withdraw. It was the only option that was both allowed in the US (PayPal forbids US prize payments of any kind) and works internationally.

      Bitcoin has not been adopted by enough people to make it viable as a sole solution, so even if I offered it, I’d still have to support paper checks for all the non-Bitcoin people. Furthermore, using Bitcoin could potentially increase the amount of scrutiny that I’d receive from various governments, given it’s association with black markets, tax evasion, etc. The lack of widespread adoption (something as small as 1 in 30 people, even if you’re focusing on a sample of game developers) makes it not worth it for the time being. I’m just one guy making the whole game by myself, so I need to pick my battles carefully.

      • kwyjibo says:

        Bitcoin is a tiny community. But they’re very enthusiastic and engaged. I don’t think you’re seriously gunning for mass adoption of Cordial Minuet, are you? Bitcoiners could form a core player community. I also assume that transaction fees with bitcoin are going to be a lot less than shuffling checks about. I’ve not worked with bitcoin, but I’d assume a lot of the heavy lifting has already been carried out by players like Coinbase.

      • Humppakummitus says:

        This feels so weird to me. I’m a middle-aged Finn and have used a paper check precisely once in my life. And that was when visiting US.

        • Jason Rohrer says:

          So, 15 years ago, how did you pay your electric bill in Finland? Or pay your rent? Is everything direct deposit there? In the US, checks are still pretty common, especially in one-time situations where setting up direct deposit involves too much overhead (paying the baby sitter, grandma sending money for your birthday, etc.)

          • Tukuturi says:

            30 years old, U.S. citizen, never written a check. I have a cashed a few, and it has always been a huge pain.

          • Humppakummitus says:

            Yep, direct deposits for everything. It’s free for normal use here, although takes about two days if the money’s going to another bank. By the time I started paying bills, we already used bank machines for transfers.

          • jrodman says:

            Europe does a lot of “wire transfers”.

          • Hieronymusgoa says:

            at least in germany checks are out of date since ages. i have seen a check with my own eyes more than 20 years ago. i think they have been out of use here basically since 1990 when most banking stuff got more automatic. it has been direct debit here since forever. checks are only used for symbolic stuff like charitys. for a german, and i am not kidding here in any way, a check feels like an antique.

  2. Raoul Duke says:

    Does Jason Rohrer like Spoon?

  3. Alberto says:

    I’m an admirer of mr. Rohrer’s work, specially for his ability to make games that make you think.

    My ineptitude for anything mathematical throws me off his audience, this time, but also the gambling factor. I’ve enjoyed poker and other card games, but found I enjoy them more when there’s no money involved.
    Everybody gets bloody serious about a single euro there’s no place for sillyness or… Well, playful play. All of a sudden it’s all Pro Gaming.

    That said, it’s a clever decision to make possible such tiny bets you’ll spend more in electricity while playing than the actual gamble. People spend hundreds in virtual costumes for Dota. Why not some coins in a good game?

  4. cpt_freakout says:

    I hope someone makes a grand interpretation of the game – it’s a very cool concept that definitely wants to be discussed.

  5. JimmyG says:

    I still remember that the title is an anagram of “demonic ritual,” and knowing that, I find myself hoping against probability that there’s some secret lurking within — if you end a game with the magic numbers, or withdraw the right amount, or something. The After-Passage? The second coming of Chainworld? Frog Fractions 2?