Contributed by Romain Tello
Number of players
From 3 to virtually any number, though never tested with more than 6
To eliminate all other players and be the last one remaining.
Shuffle a standard 52 cards deck and deal 3 face down cards to each player: these are their Lives. The remaining cards are stacked face down to form a stock pile. Players cannot look at their Lives until they are lost.
How to play
Each player's turn begins by drawing one card from the top of the stock pile and looking at it. The player may then either:
- do nothing, and the turn passes to the next player to the left, or
- attack, by laying down two cards of the same suit face up, in order to try and hex another player.
When attacking, the player chooses one opponent as the target of the attack.
In order to defend, the target must play one or more cards, with total ranks greater than the higher rank among the attacking cards. For example, if attacked with a 3 and a 7, one must defend with at least an 8 or with a combination of cards which add up to at least 8. The cards used for defence do not have to be of the same suit. The effect of the defending cards depend on the defending card's suit. If several cards are used for defence, the suit of the card with the highest rank counts. If there are two or more equally high cards, the defender chooses which effect to use.
- Diamonds (or Pentacles) are protection - a player who defends with Diamonds cannot be targeted, and the attacker must choose a different, unprotected target.
- Hearts (or Chalices) are deflection - a player who defends with Hearts chooses another, unprotected target who becomes the new defender, while the defender who played the chalice becomes the new attacker, and the rank of the chalice (heart) determines the strength of the attack.
- Spades (or Swords) cause backfiring - they make the spell blast at the attacker's face and thus the attacker loses a Life.
- Clubs (or Wands) are counterspells - they make the spell fade away and thus cancel the attack with no further effect.
Unless the attack has been countered using Clubs or Spades, two outcomes may occur.
- First, if the spell's current target cannot defend, they play no card and lose one Life.
- Second, if all players besides the attacker are protected with Diamonds or Hearts, the spell automatically fires back and makes the current attacker lose one Life.
After an attack is resolved, all cards played in attack or defence are discarded from the game.
A player who loses a Life must pick one of their face-down cards and add it to their hand. A player who loses a life but has no life cards remaining is eliminated. The winner is the last player remaining.
- Face cards (king, queen, jack) count as 2. If both attacking cards are faces, however, the attack immediately strikes the defender before they even have a chance to respond. The defender automatically loses a Life.
- Aces may be used as attack cards but count as zero. However, aces are enough to defend against any attack.
- Players never have an obligation to play. A player who has collected two cards of the same suit may choose not to play them at once and keep them for later. Likewise, a player who can defend but does not wish to do so may choose to take the blow and lose a Life instead.
- As an optional rule, it may be decided that players can attack anytime, even though it is not their turn to draw from the pile.
- Tradition has it that whenever attacking someone, the attacker counts to 3 loud and clear. The target must then manage and defend within those 3 seconds. This rule adds some pace to the game.
- If the stock pile runs out, all the cards that have been used in attack and defence are shuffled and stacked face down to form a new draw pile. If the pile runs out a second time, the game ends in a draw.
- Rushed players may play a sudden death game by starting with no Lives at all.