I chose Hanafuda for this, but it really applies to most card games (I just want to talk about Hanafuda for a bit). Hanafuda are Japanese Flower cards (and refer to some of the games played with the cards): a deck of what is essentially playing cards that were invented in Japan after western cards were banned. Hanafuda then spread to neighboring Pacific areas. There are 12 suits (representing the months with flowers) and 4 cards in each suit. The cards have values of either 1, 5, 10, or 20, though not all suits contain all values. To a western player the lack of numbers can be difficult to grasp, but since most of the games involve matching flowers, it’s easy enough to remember that in general the more decorated a card is the more points it’s worth and to just match cards.
Hanafuda caught my attention when I was looking for a card set for Mah-Jongg. I had been aware the cards’ existence but hadn’t though much of it. I play a lot of board games and have enough regular decks of cards and American card games as it is. Then I bought a cheap copy of Mah-Jongg at a thrift store, and wanted to find an easier to learn and play version. I found a card version, in the related items section there were Hanafuda cards, so I bought those as well.
Now I play a lot of board games, and while in school I started playing cards and chess when I had finished my work. I’ve since moved on mostly to more “complex” (chess is pretty complex at times) games that are more fun and/or accommodate more people. In general, I stopped playing card games because they were so luck based. Even though it might not seem like if for those who used French deck-based games (or even Hanafuda to some extent), eventually, after playing far too many games, one realizes that winning is only luck in such games. And it seemed less fun to have no skill involved in the game. But since I was so fascinated by both Hanafuda and Mah-Jongg I figured I’d take a chance on these luck based games.
This is all far too much information leading up to my basic point: that I’ve played Hanafuda (Hawaii style with a bit of my personal flair) as well as a few other mostly luck-based card games (with a modified French deck) and had a blast. Sometimes it’s just fun to play a game and talk to people, which you can do when no skill is involved. I know I’ve said that before, and some luck-based games like Snakes and Ladders or whatever can be terrible. But the illusion that you are in control that many card games give you is great for masking that and providing a basis for social interaction. Hanafuda only lasts a few minutes for a round, and you only have to play one. But for that you can look at pretty flowers, have a good conversation, and not mind the sorta kinda, entirely luck-based game.