It happens to us once or twice a year. It makes the hunt worth it. To find a game which has avoided entry into the BoardGameGeek database is a rare feat. As with this week’s example, they are usually regionally issued and by very small publishers.
B-Low was published in 1983 here in Iowa by a company called Rochester Enterprises, Inc. They were based in Keosauqua, a town with a population of less than 1,000 and close to the Missouri border in southeast Iowa. This card game will remind you of others from that era. It’s difficult to discern which came first.
The object of B-Low is to have the lowest score when the game ends. A custom deck of fifty-six cards, scorepad, rules and pencil are all that are included in the box. The deck is shuffled, and four cards dealt out to each player face-down in a row in front of them. The rest are set in the middle of the play area forming a draw deck.
At the beginning of the game, all players may look at the two cards in the middle of their four-card row. These range in value from one to eleven. The starting player then draws the topmost card from the deck and decides whether to use it to replace one of their four cards. If so, the replaced card is put into a discard pile face-up. If not, the drawn card is discarded in the same manner.
The next player to the left now has a choice. They may draw the topmost card in the same way the first player did or elect to take the topmost discarded card and replace one of theirs, which is also now discarded. This continues in clockwise order with players trying to get lower cards into their hand while remembering what they played earlier.
If a player draws the one B-Low card, they will count it as zero points and place it in their tableau face-down. At any time that player, on their turn and before they draw a card, may declare they have the B-Low card and end the round. The round will also end if the draw deck is exhausted.
Players add up the total of their four cards and record it on the score sheet. Additional rounds are played until someone has a total which exceeds one hundred points. The person with the lowest overall score at that point is the winner of B-Low!
We could find no information online about B-Low or Rochester Enterprises, so don’t expect to find examples for sale on eBay. If you’re in the Midwest and happen to discover a copy for a dollar or two, grab it! As of right now we own the only one listed on BGG!
Have you ever found a game at thrift which wasn’t listed in BGG’s database?