Trickster: Thoughts on variable trick-taking

So many of my game ideas come from puns. Presently, I'm enamored with the idea of a trick-taking card game that is themed around Trickster mythos. Which trickster, though? Loki? Coyote? Anansi? Kitsune? Heck, all of them?

Well, regardless of theme, the basic idea I've had brewing is a trick-taking game with multi-purpose cards that change the terms of the current trick. I've seen this territory explored in Seiji Kanai's Chronicle, which to my mind is the pre-eminent trick-taking game. My take on it would be a little different, much more casual.

The cards show a unique combination of variables for trick-taking games: Turn order, Who wins, and What they win.

Turn Order
  • Clockwise: Turns pass to the left.
  • Counterclockwise: Turns pass to the right.
  • Choose: Each player choose the next player to take a turn until each player has taken one turn this round.

Winner of the trick:
  • Highest Card
  • Highest Heart
  • Highest Club
  • Highest Spade
  • Highest Diamond
  • Highest Face
  • Lowest Card
  • Lowest Heart
  • Lowest Club
  • Lowest Spade
  • Lowest Diamond
  • Lowest Face

Reward at the end of a round (n tricks):
  • +1 point per Heart
  • +1 point per Club
  • +1 point per Spade
  • +1 point per Diamond
  • +2 points per Face
  • -1 point per Heart
  • -1 point per Club
  • -1 point per Spade
  • -1 point per Diamond
  • -2 points per Face

So the lead card sets the stakes of the current trick. You might say "We're choosing turn order, the winner is the highest diamond, who will win -1 point for each heart in her collection after n tricks." When you win, you set aside the lead card into a scoring stack and the other cards into your collection. The cards in your scoring stack determine your total score, based on cards in your collection.

As for face cards, I imagine they'd be unique characters or mythical features, for example:

  • Loki: At the end of the trick, take the trick, regardless of stakes. "Muhahahaha!"
  • Thor: Immediately discard Loki from the trick. "Loki, thou art a fiend!"
  • Odin: At the end of the trick, discard this card and play another. "My one eye sees all."
  • Bifrost: Immediately discard any number of cards and draw that many from the deck. "for as the As-bridge is all on fire."
In fact, these could just as easily be merged into the standard deck rather than set aside as separate cards. I love overlapping information on cards, but sometimes it gets complicated for the casual player. It would take some playtesting to find the right balance.


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