Trickster: A Reverse-Drafting Game? [Prototype A]

Miscellaneous Playing Cards

I like to design games from a deck of playing cards. They're a tried-and-true set of predictable probabilities with well-studied values for various combinations. Why ignore that deep body of knowledge? I figure if the game is nascent enough, it can't hurt to start from a well-established core and develop from there. So, without further ado, Trickster Prototype A, playable with a standard deck of playing cards.

The tricksters of ancient lore are meeting for a legendary competition of guile and deceit.

Designer's Blah Blah Blah
This game is designed as an experiment in "reverse drafting." It's basically the opposite of a game like 7 Wonders or Sushi Go, where players pass around hands of cards, collecting one from the hand at a time. Instead, players in this game are discarding cards to their hands, then passing hands to the next player. This allows for a simultaneous trick-taking game wherein only one trick is visible to each player at a time. The rules of "evasion-type" trick-taking games are otherwise pretty standard, with players trying to have the lowest score at the end of the game.

The goal is to have the lowest score after a series of rounds, one round per player. You score points by being forced to collect cards discarded by the other players, one point per card, with face cards counting as two, three or four points for jack, queen or king. You can shoot the moon, if you collect the most cards of a suit, thereby negating points scored by a particular suit.

  1. Remove jokers from the game.
  2. Deal a complete deck of cards evenly to each player face-up.
  3. If there are any extra cards, remove them from the game.
  4. Organize your cards in an orderly tableau in front of you.

How to Play
Each of the following steps is done by all players simultaneously.
  1. Each player will hold her left hand over her tableau.
  2. On a count of "3, 2, 1," each player will put her left hand down on a card of her choice.
  3. Each player will take her chosen card and add to her right hand.
  4. Each player passes her hand of cards to the player on her right.

Thereafter... You must follow suit. In other words, when you choose a card to add to your hand, it must be the same suit as the cards already in that hand.

Collecting Cards
There are two conditions in which you would be forced to collect cards.
  • If you cannot add a card to your hand because you cannot follow suit.
  • If you cause your hand to exceed a sum of ranks greater than 13. (Face cards do not count towards this sum.)
If any of these situations apply, you must first put the current hand face-down into your secret collection. Then use your chosen card to start a new hand.

End of Round
The round ends when all players have used their last card in their tableau. Players collect whatever cards they have left in their hand and tally their scores.

Score 1 point for each basic card in your collection. Score 2 points for each Jack, 3 for each Queen, 4 for each Queen.

Shoot the Moon: If you collected the most cards of a suit, you can ignore any points earned from that suit this round.

End of Game
When you have played one round per player, the game is over. The player with the lowest total score from all rounds wins!
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.