A game of card warfare for two players
By Thorin N. Tatge
EQUIPMENT: One deck of cards with two jokers. Optional: a long thin barrier to divide the battlefield.
SETUP: Sort the cards into red and black, with one joker in each stack. Each player takes and shuffles the cards of one color and then draws a hand of five cards. If you have a barrier (such as a ruler or chopstick), place it horizontally between the two players.
SUMMARY: You have an army of twenty-seven cards with which you will attempt to destroy your opponent’s army. You have from three to five actions on your turn, which you may use to draw cards, play them to the battlefield on the table, and attack your opponent’s cards. By playing cards and keeping them in play, you get to take more actions. In general, the higher a card’s number, the greater its value. Many cards have special powers. You win the game when your opponent has no more cards in his or her deck, in hand, or in play.
BATTLEFIELD: The battlefield is where the action takes place. There is a battle line separating your cards from those of your opponent; this is represented by the barrier if you have one. There can be up to four columns of battle, and each player has room for up to three cards in each column. Thus, each player can have a maximum of twelve cards in play at once. When playing a card to the battlefield, you may choose to play it in any of the four columns and in any position within that column. Thus, if the column already has a card in it, you can place a new card in front of or behind it. If the column has two cards in it, you can place a new card in front of them, behind them, or between them. The front rank of the battlefield is the row closest to your opponent. (If you have a barrier, the front rank is adjacent to it.) Your cards must always be as close to your enemy as possible: thus, you may not place a card in the second rank unless the column you place it in has a card in the front rank. If one of your cards is destroyed, any card or cards behind it move forward.
ACTIONS: The first player to take a turn gets only one action. The other player then takes two actions. From then on, each turn you must perform three, four or five actions, depending on the number of battlefield columns in which you have at least one card at the start of your turn. If you have cards in all four columns, you get five actions. If you have cards in three columns, you get four actions. Otherwise, you get three actions. You must always use all of your allotted actions.
There are four types of actions available for most of the game. These are:
Drawing a card: Take the top card from your deck into your hand. If you have no cards in your deck, you may not perform this action.
Putting a card into play: Place a card from your hand (other than a Jack or Joker) face-down into your side of the battlefield as described above. If you decide to play it in front of one or two cards you have already played, move them back to make room. You may not play a card in a column that already contains three of your cards.
Attacking: Choose one of your cards in the front rank to attack the card facing it in your opponent’s front rank. (If your opponent has no cards in a column, you cannot attack with a card in that column.) Both you and your opponent flip your participating cards face-up if they are not face-up already. The card with the higher number wins the battle and the card with the lower number is put into its owner’s discard pile. (See below for exceptions to this rule.) If both cards have the same value, both are discarded. If a card that is destroyed has a card behind it, the latter card moves up to take its place in the front rank. If there is another card behind that, it also moves up.
Playing a special card: Jacks and Jokers are played directly from your hand to the discard pile for a single effect. They are never played to the battlefield. 2’s, 3’s and 4’s, which are known as Scouts, as well as 5’s, may either be played to the battlefield or discarded from your hand for their special effect. The effects of these cards are as follows:
Jacks: As one action, you may discard a Jack to rearrange any row or column of cards on the battlefield belonging to either player. In doing this, you may not leave any gaps between any card and the battle line—for example, you may not move a card in the second rank to a column which has no card in the front rank. It is permissible, when rearranging a row, to move cards into formerly unoccupied locations, so long as no gaps are created as described above. You may not look at your opponent’s face-down cards while rearranging them.
Alternatively, as one action you may discard a Jack to turn any two face-down cards in play face-up.
Jokers: As one action, you may discard a Joker to destroy any card on the battlefield. Any cards behind it are moved up to take its place.
Scouts: As one action, you may discard a 2, 3 or 4 to turn any face-down card in play face-up. This does not count as an attack.
6s: As one action, you may discard a 6 to return any card on the battlefield to its owner’s hand. The card may be face-up or face-down and may belong to you or your opponent. If it is yours, take it back into your hand and move any cards behind it forward to fill the gap. If the card belongs to your opponent, he or she does likewise. If the card is later played back to the battlefield, it is played face-down.
BECOMING A GENERAL: When there are no more cards in your deck, you obtain the status of General. You now have two additional types of actions available to you.
Draining your opponent: Have your opponent discard the top card of his or her deck. If there are no cards left in your opponent’s deck, choose a card at random from his or her hand and discard it.
Consolidating two half-empty columns: Combine a column in which you have at least one card and your opponent does not with a column where your opponent has at least one card and you do not. (This ability keeps the game from ending in a stalemate.)
SPECIAL POWERS: As stated above, the general rule is that the card with the higher number wins a battle. However, there are some exceptions.
Aces: Also known as Bombs, Aces always win when they are attacked, with one exception given below. They may attack, but they always lose when attacking, even when attacking other Bombs.
Scouts: 2’s, 3’s and 4’s are the only cards that can defeat Aces when attacking. (This only works if they have been played to the battlefield. If a Scout is played directly from hand to reveal an Ace, the Ace is not discarded.)
5’s and 10’s: When a 5 and a 10 do battle, the 5 wins. This is an exception to the rule that the larger number always wins a battle.
Queens and Kings: Queens win against any odd card aside from Bombs (3, 5, 7 or 9), but lose to any even card (2, 4, 6, 8 or 10.) Kings win against any even card (2, 4, 6, 8 or 10), but lose to any odd card (3, 5, 7 or 9). When a Queen battles a King, the Queen wins.
NOTES: You may look at your own face-down cards at any time. Once a card is turned face-up, it remains face-up as long as it stays in play.
WINNING: When all twenty-seven of one player’s cards have been discarded, the other player is the winner. If both players run out of cards simultaneously, the game is a tie.