Mentok is a point-scoring game, created as a hybrid of Go Fish, and Blackjack (though it owes more to the Pontoon blackjack variant)
The game does indeed has an element of mindtaking (basic memory and deduction). The basic goal is to build a 21point hand (blackjack/pontoon style) using methodology derived from Go Fish.
A Game of Mentok consists of multiple rounds for 2-5 players. Players score points at the end of each round, and the game ends at 21 points.
- 1. What you are dealt
- 2. What is on the table to be scored (also: 'table hand')
- The basic scoring unit of the game. Each round consists of a single scored hand per player.
- A series of rounds, culminating with 21 game points for a player.
- Joining a card to the table hand(s).
Using a regular 52 deck, cards are dealt as follows:
- Four cards to the hand of each player
- One card open to the table for each player. This table card is the start of the players blackjack hand.
You now start building your table hand using Go Fish techniques. That is, you ask another player for a card that you desire, and if they have it, they HAVE to give it to you - from their hand only - and you HAVE to meld it to the table. If the player you ask for a card doesn't have it, you have to take a card from the top of the deck, and you meld that instead.
If on the first round you ask for (and get) the card dealt on the table, you may split your hand blackjack style (ie, you now have two base cards), thus potentially doubling your possible total. Note that you may only split once.
Note that you cannot ask for just anything. Like Go Fish, you can only ask for cards which are currently in your sphere of influence. ie, in your hand, or part of what you are building on the table. Thus what you ask for may reveal what cards you have to other players, potentially to their advantage. (And thus, Mindtaking!)
The game moves quite fast since on every turn, a card IS melded to the table.
When everyone sits on their cards (or has busted), the round is over and points are scored.
At the end of each round, cards still held are revealed (technically for purposes of detecting cheating, but mostly for banter and complaint about the dealer), and game points are scored thus:
- A blackjack or pontoon (ie, 21 points in only 2 cards): bonus 1 point (so, 6 points total)
- "five-and-under" (5-or-more cards, and 21-or-under points): bonus 1 point. (thus: a hand up to 16 in 5 cards will score 1 point, 17 scores 2, etc, up to 21 scores 6.
With a split hand, 12 points is the maximum possible in a single round!
Note that at this final scoring stage, you can choose to score on the cards held in your hand instead of the hand(s) on the table. This should only be considered a backup, as there is no direct control you can have on the cards you remain with. However, in-game hinting of cards in your possession (to encourage others to fish for it) is permitted in friendly games. (and the inventors of Mentok play no other type!). Remember that such hinting may well give away your intent to swap hands.
If a player is found to have cheated (eg, requesting cards outside their sphere), minimum penalty is a score of negative 5 points for that round. Repeat offenders at the discretion of the table.
A game is won when a player reach 21 points. (Tied games are possible if two players reach 21 game points on the same round).
Whilst a game must last a minimum of 2 rounds, and has no technical limit, nost games last 4 or 5 rounds, with 3 to 7 are common enough with regular play.
Note that as the game score of 21 is reached, players may need to target a smaller point scoring hand in an individual round, so as to not bust out of the game. Players may deliberately have to bust their hand to ensure their game target remains below 21. (for eg: a player with a game score of 20, will only want a hand of 17, for 1 point to reach a game score of 21!
No reason offhand why more than 5 players cannot participate, but an additional deck is recommended (should the pickup deck be exhausted mid-round, that round is abandoned)