With the year coming to a close, I really want to wrap up some card games that I started this year, including 9 Lives. I'm actually considering calling renaming it something a little more branded like "Hooray Kitties!" so I can extend the line to other cute animals, like "Hooray Puppies!" and "Hooray Hedgehogs!" But for now, let's focus on the mechanics. Here's a much more streamlined rules set for 9 Lives.
To review, the game is about rescuing nine cats and trying not to get scratched in the process. You get most points if you're the individual rescuer for a cat. If you must rescue at cat with someone else, only the least scratched rescuer gets the points.
Deal a hand of 7 cards to each player in a 3-player game. (Reduce hand size by 1 for each additional player.)
Deal out an initial pile of 5 cat cards in the "alley" between all players.
Each player takes one card from her hand and bids it. Turn order proceeds from the lowest bid, then next lowest bid, and so on. The game comes with turn markers to make this easy to remember. After determining turn order, add the bid cards to the alley.
On Your Turn
You may do one of two things. You may take one card from the alley and add it to your tableau. In the example below, I take the gray cat.
OR... You may take all cards featuring the same cat, in exchange for an equal number of any cards from your tableau. In the example below, I take all the tuxedo cats in exchange for my calico and grey cat.
End of Round
The round ends when all cards have been bid from all players hands. (So a 3-player round lasts 7 turns, but a larger group will have shorter rounds.) Some cards may remain in the alley when the round is over, depending on players' choices.
Scoring Each Round
- If you are the only player with a specific cat, you get 2 points for each card in your tableau featuring that cat.
- If multiple players have cards featuring the same cat, then tally the scratch marks on your cards. The player with fewest scratches gets 1 point per card in her tableau featuring that cat. The other players get no points for that cat.
- In case players are tied for fewest scratches, they both get their standard 1 point per card.
In the example above, let's look at your tableau from left to right.
- You're the only player with the hunting cat, and you have one card featuring it, so you get 2 points for that.
- You're the only player with the calico cat, and you have one card featuring it, so you get 2 points for that as well.
- You and the player to your right both have the brown cat, but you have more scratches, so you score no points for it.
- All players have the tuxedo cat, but you have the fewest scratches and one card featuring that cat, so you get 1 point for it.
- Finally, you're the only player with the catnip cat, and you have two cards featuring that cat, so you get 4 points for it!
Discard all cards from all tableaus and deal out a new hand of cards to each player. The alley cards remain in the middle of the play area. If there are fewer than 5 cards in the alley, add more cards from the deck until it has five cards.
The game ends after three rounds. The player with the most points wins!