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A solitaire card game
By Thorin N. Tatge

EQUIPMENT: One deck of cards, including jokers.

SETUP: Separate the red cards into one pile and the black cards and jokers into another pile. Shuffle each pile.

OVERVIEW: You are a general fighting off an invasion of extraterrestrial attackers. The attackers are represented by the red cards. The black cards and jokers are your forces of defense. The attackers will attack in four waves, but you will decide how large each wave will be. If you survive all four waves, you win.

Note: In this game, aces have a value of 1, and jacks, queens and kings have a value of 11, 12 and 13, respectively.

PLAY: The game consists of four waves of attack. At the start of each wave, deal seven cards face-up to the table from the deck of defenders. After looking at these cards, decide how many attackers you will attempt to face this wave. (Typically this number will be somewhere from five to eight.)

Turn up attackers one at a time. After each attacker is turned face up, you must either destroy or absorb it, as explained below. If you are unable to either destroy or absorb an attacker, you lose the game. Once you have turned up all the attackers you pledged to face in a given wave, you have survived the wave. Discard all cards on the table, and continue to the next wave by dealing out seven more defenders.

If you finish a wave (other than the final one) with more than three defenders remaining on the table, you lose the game. If you finish a wave with no defenders left on the table, however, you automatically defeat the next attacker from the deck. Discard it before going on to the next wave.

Absorbing attackers: One way of dealing with an attacker is to absorb it with a card of greater value. Place the attacker under the defender of greater value. That defender is now consideblack wounded. Its new value is the difference between its face value and the total value of the attackers it has absorbed. One defender may be used to absorb several attackers as long as their combined value is less than the value of the defender.

Destroying attackers: The other way to deal with attackers is to destroy them. This can be done with a single defender or with multiple defenders whose values add up exactly to the value of the attacker. Discard the attacker, all defenders used to destroy it, and all attackers previously absorbed by those defenders. If multiple defenders are used to destroy an attacker, they must either be all wounded or all unwounded.

Example: I use a black ten to absorb a red four, a black jack to absorb a red six, and a black three to absorb a red ace. I then turn up a red king. I can use the ten, jack and three (whose new values are six, five and two, respectively) to destroy the king. All cards involved all discarded. I could not have used the ten together with a black seven to destroy the king, because the ten was wounded and the seven was not.

An unwounded defender is one that has absorbed no attackers. If a single unwounded defender is used to destroy an attacker, its value counts as one point greater than normal; thus an unwounded black seven can destroy a red eight, for example. This does not apply when multiple defenders are used to destroy a single attacker.

A joker is good for destroying one attacker. If you choose to use a joker to destroy an attacker, discard them both. Jokers cannot absorb attackers.

Recalibrating: After any attacker has been dealt with, you may discard any unwounded defender in order to change the number of attackers in the current wave. The number can be changed to anything you like. This cannot be done in response to turning up an attacker, but it can be done in case all attackers in a wave have been dealt with and there are defenders to spare.

SPECIAL POWERS:

Some cards have special powers that you can activate by discarding them, provided they are unwounded. You can do this at any time, even after you have drawn an attacker and are deciding how to deal with it.

3ís: You may discard an unwounded 3 in order to allow an attacker to be destroyed by a combination of wounded and unwounded defenders. (The 3 is not counted toward the total needed to destroy the attacker.)

5ís: You may discard an unwounded 5 to shift an absorbed attacker from one defender to another. The new defender must be large enough to absorb/destroy the attacker. You may not shift it to an unwounded defender that is one point smaller than the attacker, even though that defender could be used to destroy the attacker normally.

7ís: You may discard an unwounded 7 to peek at the next three cards in the attacker deck and rearrange them as you like.

WINNING: You win the game if you survive all four waves. If you wish to keep a personal score, your score is the total value of all remaining unwounded defenders. Jokers count zero. To win the game even with a score of zero is a decent accomplishment. To score ten or more is very good.

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