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 6x6 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.