Number of Players: Two.
The Deck: 54 cards (the standard deck of 52 cards plus two Jokers).
Object: To form a "nation" of seven cards in sequence in the same suit.
The Deal: Seven cards are dealt to each player. The remainder of the deck forms a face-down stock pile. The top card of this pile is turned face up and placed in front of the non-dealer to form one of two discard piles.
The Play: The non-dealer and dealer alternate turns. A turn generally comprises of three elements: draw, meld and discard. First the player draws a card, either from the top of the stock pile or from the top of his discard pile, in order to have eight cards in his hand. He then can, if he wishes to, put down to his left any melds (or "cities") of three or more cards of the same rank (e.g. 6, 6 and 6). (Three or more cards of the same suit in sequence - EG 8, 9, 10 - are also counted as melds, but are kept in the hand). If he does so, then he immediately replenishes his hand from the stock pile until he has eight cards again. The final phase, the discard, is removing one card from the eight in his hand and placing it, face up, in front of his opponent. This forms his opponent’s discard pile.
A player can add to either player’s city and replenish his hand. A player may also exchange a joker with an already melded card in one of his own cities and replenish his hand. Jokers also have another important property - please see below.
If either player has seven in sequence in the same suit after discarding then he claims victory.
The middle of the table should look something like this:
Diplomacy: Either player can forego their normal move and offer to trade cities with his opponent. The trade is in cities, but can be of any denomination; that is one for one, two for one, one for none, three for none etc. If a trade is accepted then the turn immediately ends. If there is no trade (that is, diplomacy is not achieved) then the turn ends and war may be declared on the player’s next turn.1
Declaring War: War can only be declared immediately after an unsuccessful attempt at diplomacy. A player declares war by taking a joker from his hand and placing it face up on his own discard pile. His opponent (the defender) must immediately hand over his cities and any unmelded cards in his hand. Jokers are counted as melded if there already is a meld in place, otherwise it must be handed over. These cards are merged with the declarer’s hand. The declarer must then whittle his cards back down to seven by either making cities or discarding in the defender’s discard pile.2 The joker (from his own discard pile) is always placed on top. If the seven are of the same suit in sequence then the declarer claims victory. If not, then play continues.
Responding to War: The defender on his turn may either rebuild or retaliate:
Rebuild is to draw cards, one at a time, from either the stock pile or the discard pile, possibly making cities, until there are eight cards again in his hand. After discarding, play continues unless victory is claimed.
Retaliate is to use the Joker from the top of his discard pile and repeat the war process (see above). Wars can be played back and forth until a player rebuilds or claims victory.
The Scoring: Three points for the win, plus one point for each city under the victor’s control.
To Win: Rubbers are played to seven points. A game may be one rubber, or best of three.
© Matthew Shields 2005
- War can only be declared if that player holds a joker, but diplomacy (and unequal trades) may be made at any time. That player may only be bluffing when demanding a trade.
- If victory cannot be claimed, it may be better to discard any potential cities rather than make them as the cities would be grounds for retaliation.