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Oracle

Contributed by Peter Higgins (peteh@essex.ac.uk) who writes: "This game was invented for my family. It is easy to play and learn, requires some skill and is a little unusual. We are happy for anyone to pick this up as long as it is not used for any commercial purpose.

Object

Each player amasses points simply by collecting cards and the winner is the first to (say) 50 points which would typically take about four or five rounds of play. However, there is one (variable) player, The Oracle, who has a special (and generally envied) status. The Oracle tends to score more heavily than the other players, but this is not always the case and the Oracle may lose his special position at any time as the rules explain.

Rules

The game is played by upwards of 2 players (4 or 5 is best) with an ordinary deck. At the beginning of the first round one player is selected to be Oracle and the Oracle begins with one card, the remainder of the deck is laid face down. Players, other than the Oracle, take turns to question the Oracle, going anticlockwise (say) around the table.

A player's turn is effected as follows. The player guesses a card type held by the oracle - for example the player may guess 'Queen'. If the Oracle holds no cards of that type, Queen in this case, Oracle says so and picks up the top card from the deck. If the Oracle was already holding four cards then Oracle places one card face upwards on the table in front of him (or her) and draws a fresh card from the deck and the play continues. This completes that turn and the next player then has a guess.

If on the other hand Oracle does hold one or more cards, Queens in this case, ALL such cards are shown to all players, then given to the guessing player who places them face down on the table in front of the player. The player who guessed correctly then has another turn. If the Oracle is stripped of all his or her cards then that player ceases to be Oracle and that privilege passes to the player who has won the cards held by Oracle. The new Oracle picks up the top card from the remaining deck and the game continues as before.

A round continues until the pack is exhausted. At the end of a round players, including any who were Oracle during that round, count up their cards and that number is added to their points tally. Any cards held by the current Oracle are shown to all and count to the Oracle's score. During a round a player may inspect the (face down) cards that the player has won but not cards that have been placed facedown by other players.

The reigning Oracle takes the title into the next round. That is to say a player only stops being Oracle by having all the cards held inhand stripped fromhim or her in actual play.


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Last updated 12th January 2002