Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Friends in High Places - solo card game

Last week I sketched a solo card game. After some play testing and converting the rules to English, here it is.


This is a solo deck-building game that can be played with a regular 52-card deck. The goal of the game is to gain influence over the King of Diamonds. To reach that goal, you will need to influence other nobles higher and higher in the court.

Remove these cards: jokers, 2 of hearts, spades and diamonds, and kings of clubs, spades and hearts. Prepare your starting deck with the four aces, and the cards 2, 3 and 4 of clubs. Shuffle them well. Prepare the court deck by shuffling the remaining cards.

Playing the game
Follow these steps for each game turn:
1) Your nobles arrive at the court: deal four cards from your deck to make up your hand for the turn. If there are not enough cards on your deck, shuffle your discards to make a new deck. If at any time your whole deck (including discards) has less than 4 cards, you lose the game.
2) Other nobles arrive at the court: deal four cards from the court deck on the table, to make up the court. If there are not enough cards on the court deck, shuffle the court discards to make a new court deck. If at any time the whole court deck (including discards) has less than 4 cards, you lose the game.
3) Court intrigue: you must remove from the game either two cards from the court or one card from your hand. These cards will not be used for the rest of the game, so choose carefully!
4) Influence: now you can use cards from your hand to acquire one card from the court, respecting the following rules:
  • The suits represent spheres of influence, in order: clubs, hearts, spades and diamonds.
  • You can add the values of cards of a suit to acquire a card of the same suit with the same or lower value. Jacks are worth 11, Queens are worth 12, the King of Diamonds is worth 13. Example: you can use a 2 and a 3 of clubs to acquire a 5 of clubs that is on the court this turn.
  • You can also add cards of a suit and use half of the total (rounded down) to acquire a card of the next sphere of influence. For instance, you can combine a 2 and a 5 of hearts (total 7, divided by two = 3) to acquire a 3 of spades. It is not possible to skip spheres (e.g. acquire a card of spades with a combination of cards of clubs).
  • Aces can be used to reduce the value of a card of the same suit on the court. For instance, you can acquire a 5 of spades with the ace of spades and a 4 of spades. Likewise, you can acquire the 3 of hearts with the ace of hearts and the 2 and 4 of clubs.
  • Cards of different suits cannot be added together. For instance, if your hand consists of 2 and 4 of clubs and 3 and 4 of hearts, you may acquire up to a 6 of clubs, a 7 of hearts or a 3 of spades.
5) An acquired card is placed on your discard pile. You immediately win the game when you acquire the King of Diamonds.
6) As the last step of the game turn, discard the remaining cards on the court to the court discard pile, and any cards you used or still on your hand to your discard pile. Go back to step 1 and keep playing more turns until you win or lose.

If the game seems too easy, try one or both of these optional rules:
a) Lost opportunities: After the court discard pile is shuffled (on step 2), turn open the first card. If it is the King of Diamonds, place it at the bottom of the court deck. Otherwise, remove it from the game.
b) Royal family: The King of Diamonds may only be acquired with other cards of the diamonds suit.

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