The Bottle Imp is a thematic trick-taking card game based on the short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, where the goal is to gain the most points over a series of hands.
Cards are numbered 1-37 and are found in three colors: red, blue, and yellow. There is one neutral card, the 19, that sets the "price of the bottle." As in most trick taking games, players must follow suit if possible with high card taking the trick (regardless of suit). The unique feature about this game however is how trump is determined. Any card of value lower than the current price of the bottle (starting with 19) is considered trump, and will win the trick. If multiple cards are less than the current bottle price, the card valued closest to the current price (so highest card below the bottle) takes the trick and the Bottle, changing the bottle price to the number on the card used to win the trick.
Thus the "price of the bottle" will decrease with each trump card played, and the bottle is increasingly harder to win/purchase (or get rid of, as you will see!). Ownership of the bottle will pass from player to player and the number of possible trump cards will decrease both as a factor of cards being played and cards being skipped as the bottle price descends. One player will be stuck with the bottle at the end of a hand (when players have played all the cards in their hands).
Cards have point values from 1-6 (not directly based on the card's numerical value).At the end of the hand, players will score points for the cards of tricks they've won, except the player who holds the bottle, who instead scores negative points for all the cards played to the bottle at the beginning, and scores nothing for the cards they won during the hand. Play continues until the point goal is reached.
This is a reprint of the classic The Bottle Imp, first published in 1995, and reprinted later by Z-Man Games. In the new Stronghold Games edition, we have brought back the beautiful wooden bottle that players of the original edition loved!