Number of Players: Two.
The Deck: The standard deck of 52 cards.
Other Equipment: Pen and paper to record melds, or two additional decks of cards.
Object: To derive the highest score ("influence") from 36 "candidates" in twelve deals ("seats").
The Deal: Cards are sorted into piles; one for each suit. Suits are otherwise irrelevant but the rank of a card is always significant. One pile/suit/seat is selected for the first round, and five cards from this pile are dealt to each player ("faction" cards). The remaining three cards form a face down stock pile ("candidates"). The other seats are left aside to be played in subsequent rounds.
The Play: The first candidate card is upturned from the stock pile. The non dealer then bids ("lobbies") for the card with one of her faction cards from her hand. This card is left face up on the table. The dealer may counter this bid with a higher ranked faction card. Bids may be raised for as many rounds as necessary (aces are high) and all bids must be left face up on the table. Once a player passes, the highest bid captures the candidate, and the candidate card is placed face up in front of the high bidder. All cards are left face up with a candidates for either player kept separately from the used faction cards.
The second candidate card is then upturned from the stock pile, and the process is repeated with the winner of the previous candidate opening the bidding. If either player has used up her faction cards in lobbying, any remaining candidates in that round are automatically transferred to her opponent.
Once the three candidates are captured, then the winner of the previous candidate repeats the process with the next pile. At all times the candidate cards must be face up, however the used faction cards may be discarded once each round has concluded.
Scoring Influence Points: Candidate cards ranked 2 - 10 in any suit are worth one point. Ace and picture card candidates are worth two.
The key is to "create synergy" with their influence by ultimately capturing two or three in sequence (suits are irrelevant), or three or four of a kind.
Two in sequence are worth double their usual values. Three in sequence are worth triple. It is possible for an A and a 2, or a K and an A, to form a sequence. There are no additional bonuses.
Three of a kind are worth double their usual values. Four of a kind are worth triple. There are no additional bonuses.
For example 2 in sequence (e.g. 9, 10) scores 4 points, (Q, K) scores 8 points.
3 in sequence (e.g. 7, 8, 9) scores 9 points, (10, J, Q) scores 15 points, (J, Q, K, A) scores 20 points.
3 of a kind (e.g. 10, 10, 10) scores 6 points. 4 of a kind (e.g. 4, 4, 4, 4) scores 12 points; (Q, Q, Q, Q) scores 24 points.
To Win: Points are tabulated after the twelth round. If one deck is used, then the composition (i.e. rank) of the candidates captured by each player needs to be recorded after the fourth and eighth rounds before the cards are reshuffled, so that all the players' candidates can be used in scoring combinations. Highest score wins.
© Matthew Shields 2007