Review: Perudo


Players:  2-6
Ages:  8+
Time to play:  15-30 minutes

I'm very pleased today to be reviewing one of my favourite games, Perudo.  It's a dice game which is based on the popular south american game "dudo".  This game was huge in the early 90's after being introduced to the country by chocolate heir Cosmo Fry after holidaying in South America.

With Cosmo's backing and numerous contacts, the game quickly gained popularity with the elite of the day.  Celebrity endorsements soon rolled in from people such as Sting, Richard Branson, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry (who described the game as being the second most addictive thing ever to come out of South America).

Although initially, only deluxe versions were available via Harrods, a cheaper mass produced set soon became available for general distribution for the great unwashed (like myself).

Perudo, Dudo and other such games belong to a family of games collectively known as liars dice, which you may already be familiar with, especially if you have watched Pirates of the Caribbean.  If the information on the box is to be believed then it's origins can be traced back as far as the Spanish conquest of the Americas in the 16th century.

It's still a popular game in Peru today, and is played by people of all ages, but any Peruvian will tell you that the best way to play Perudo as an adult - is when you're drunk.  I can certainly attest to that.

I actually own two editions of the game so I'll be sharing my views on both.  As you can imagine, the game itself is identical in terms of gameplay so it really just comes down to the quality of the components.

So the two versions that I have are the "Travel Edition" and the "Perudo in a Tin Edition".  The Travel Edition is for 5 players and contains hand tooled cups and an authentic woollen drawstring bag.  The cups are beautifully made and each depicts a different Inca symbol on it.  They have a satisfying feel when shaking the dice and are much quieter than using the plastic cups supplied in the Perudo in a tin edition.



In this version 25 white dice are included. They are white with black pips and look clean and crisp in play, especially when played on a poker-table like surface.

The box for this version is decorated in a south american style theme in keeping with the origins of the game and compliments the components inside perfectly.  However, the box isn't actually that sturdy and I get the impression that it's the kind of box that might show signs of wear easily if not looked after, especially on the corners.  It's a surprising choice as the "Perudo in a tin Edition" feels much higher quality.

Now as beautiful as this set is, the quality comes at a price as it currently retails at around £70+ on the perudo.co.uk website (and this isn't even the most expensive set there is).  I was lucky as I purchased this set some years ago for around £55, but I think I'd struggle to justify a spend like this now, regardless of the beautiful components.

The other Edition that I have is the more mainstream "Perudo in a Tin Edition".  This version is for 6 players and contains plastic cups in 6 different colours.  The cups are moulded and although nowhere near as pretty as the hand tooled leather, serve their purpose admirably.  They are however much noisier, and although this doesn't represent a problem most of the time, a late night Perudo session might disturb anyone who is attempting to have an early night as the sound of rattling dice in a plastic cup really can travel.



The travel bag included in the tin, is drawstring but is made of printed cloth.  It does a good job of containing the components but is pretty poor quality when compared against the authentic woollen sock of the travel edition.

In this version of the game 30 dice are included. They are in 6 different colours which match the cups and feel just as good quality as the more expensive set.  In fact it feels a little nicer to play with your own colour on the table rather than generic white dice.  I'm not sure why though, maybe it gives you a sense of identity on the table.

The box for this version is a tin and it feels really sturdy and high quality, it's artwork is not so strongly south-american themed as it's travel counterpart but has a clean functional design.

This set is obviously nowhere near the quality of the Travel edition but plays exactly the same and is capable of supporting an extra player.  I've taken mine to loads of places and had great fun playing it.  The major plus point for this set is that you can usually pick this up for around £15, which in my opinion represents excellent value.

When I play Perudo at home with friends, I actually use both sets.  The coloured dice from the Perudo in a tin edition and the leather cups from the Travel edition (as they are much quieter).  When I'm away from home I always take the Tin Edition.

Now the game itself is very simple, though it’s difficult to describe to people initially without it sounding boring.  It’s really a bidding game where you’re trying to find out how many dice of a specific number there are under all of the cups.

But this is not a game about statistics or memory, this is actually a game of bluff.  The only thing you have to do in this game is make the player to the left of you believe that the bid you’ve just made is real.

Each player starts with 5 dice and a cup.  Each of the players give their dice a good shake in the cup and then upturn it onto the table being careful to conceal the dice from view.  Each player carefully looks at their dice without revealing them to the other players and makes a mental note of the face values on each of them.



The round then begins with a player making a guess on the total number of a certain type of die that is in play, so he might guess that there are 6 fives in play by stating "six fives", this guess is known as a bid.

When a player bids, they have to take into account 2 things:

The first thing is the total number of dice on the table.  So if you're playing a 6 player game, then there are 30 dice in play.  In this scenario, statistics will tell us that there will be roughly five of each face value in play.

The second thing is is how many ones (or aces) are in play.  Aces are known as "Wild" and can represent any face value.  So this knowledge can be used to bluff or distort the normal law of averages and turn the game to that players advantage.

Once the initial bid has been made, the player to the left then has the choice to either raise the bid or call “Dudo” meaning “I doubt it”.

So lets say the game begins and someone calls “Three twos”, implying that he believes that there are at least three dice in play with the number 2 showing (including any aces). If a player calls "Dudo", then all of the dice are revealed, and the number of the dice in question are counted.  In the example above if we counted all of the dice and there happened to be only two 2's and no aces (which could be counted as 2's) showing on the table, the player who challenged the bid was correct in his statement and the person who made the false bid loses a die.  

However, if there were three or more 2's on the table including aces, then the player who challenged was incorrect and he loses a die instead.  The die in each case is dropped into a handy receptacle (usually a spare cup) in the centre of the table with a satisfying clunk.  No one is allowed to look into the cup and count the dice, they're dead.

Once the die has been discarded, everyone shakes and conceals their remaining dice to start the next round.  Play then continues with the losing player starting the next bid.  The game continues in this way until there is only one person with dice left who is ultimately declared the winner.



Of course, as we mentioned before, a player doesn't have to declare "Dudo".  They can also raise the bid if they like.  but this has to follow a certain set of rules.  

To qualify as a raise, either the face value of the dice must increase (so a bid of three 2's could be followed by three 3's or three 4's and so on), or the quantity of the dice can increase (so a bid of three 2's could be followed by four 2's, five 2's or even ten 2's). you could even raise both the quantity and the face value if you wanted so a bid of "three 2's" could become "four 6's"!

When bidding, you can never decrease the quantity, but you can decrease the face value of the dice (or we'd all be stuck bidding on 6's).  In order to decrease the face value however, the quantity must increase, so you could follow a bid of "five 6's" with a bid of "six 2's" or "six 3's" etc...

So fundamentally, players are pretty much increasing the bid as it goes around the table and calling "Dudo" when they think it's false and that's pretty much the game.  However there are a few extra rules that I've detailed below.  The first of which is called "Calling Aces".

Calling Aces

Remember I said that you can never decrease the quantity? That's not strictly true.  Once per round any player can call "Aces" and halve the quantity of the previous bid in order for people to guess the number of 1's (or aces) on the table.  So for example a bid of 10 fives could be followed by a bid of five aces.

Players can increase the number of aces as they would a normal bid, but if someone wants to increase the face value of the dice to 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's or 6's, then they will have to double the number of aces and add one (so a bid of 6 aces could be followed by a bid of 13 of any other face value).  It's also worth noting that players can't start a normal bidding round with a call of aces.

Palafico

When a player loses their fourth die he is declared palafico.  During the bidding in that round, only the quantity of the bid can be increased and not the face value. So a bid of three twos for example can only be followed by a bid of twos, (or four twos or five twos etc.).  Players who have previously been palafico in this round (so only have one die left) can change the face value when it is their turn to bid.
Its worth noting that during a palafico round aces are not wild so a palafico player could open with a call of aces.

Calza

Although this is stated as an advanced rule, it's worth introducing this it as soon as you can as it can really spice up the game.  A call of calza  declares that the last bid is exactly right, it can be made by any player apart from the player whose turn is next.  Anyone who calls a bid of calza successfully gets to take a die from the discard pot and place it back in their hand (they cannot however, have more than 5 dice in hand).  An incorrect call means that the player loses a die in the normal way.  Play continues from the calza caller, whether he is right or wrong.

Heads up

When you are down to only two players, then you're in a heads up situation.  Normal rules apply but palafico and calza rules are ignored.



Now I know what you're thinking.  This all sounds a bit like a maths game, but it's really not.  Once you get the rules into your head it's actually very easy to play.

Also, after you and your friends have played Perudo a few times, something strange begins to happen.  What was once a table of people randomly making bids with no real direction suddenly becomes more focused and cohesive.  The bids become more accurate and you'll find calls are won and lost on the difference of a single die.  Everyone gets a “feel” for the number of dice in play and the probabilities of each bid start to seep into everyone's head subconsciously.  

You're also getting a lot of information from the other players in the form of their bids, what quantities they are stating and how honest you believe their bids to be. This is where the game gets even more interesting because once you've got a feel for the players around the table you can begin to manipulate them. You could fool someone into thinking you’ve got something when you haven’t and leave them hung out to dry when someone calls their ridiculous bid.  You could make an outrageous call with your statistically improbable hand because you've read the other players bids so well.  Or you can simply try to control the pace of the game with your bids, pushing the calls onto other players to make them fight it out while keeping your own dice safe.

Perudo is a game packed full of highs and lows, but the quick pace of the game means that no-one is suffering for long.  I can guarantee that during a game of Perudo, there will be people pointing fingers and shouting cries of “No” or Yes! The table will erupt into laughter on one call and there will be people with their heads in their hands in sheer disbelief on the next.


Overall, this is a lively fun game with plenty of social interaction, the more players that are involved the better.  Both editions I've reviewed here can be effectively used as travel versions so it's a great game to throw in a bag and take away with friends.  I'd heartily recommend this game in whatever version you prefer, but I think that the "Perudo in a Tin" edition is extremely good value.  You can usually pick it up for around £15, and it has the extra cup for a sixth player.

Needless to say, it's a strong recommendation from me, and almost everyone I've played this with has bought a copy after playing.

You can pick up a copy of Perudo in a tin here.  but for deluxe versions you'll need to go directly to the Perudo website at www.perudo.co.uk.

Comments

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