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The Four Virtues of Royalty

Contributed by Neal Lyons

The Four Virtues of Royalty is a two-player card game based on the Rummy family of games. This game differs from its relatives by changing the way that face cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings) are used. Instead of melding face cards, players apply them to melds of the number cards (Ace through Ten) to create various effects.

Getting Started

Players: Two

Cards: A standard 52-card deck is used. The number cards--Ace through Ten--rank according to their pip value. The role of the face cards is explained below.

Objective: The players should decide upon a point value that serves as the goal for winning the game. Three hundred to five hundred points are suggested. At least one player should have a pen and paper for keeping score.

The Deal: Choice of which player deals first may be determined by general agreement, or by drawing cards or flipping a coin or any other method so long as both players agree that the method is fair. The dealer gives ten cards to each player, dealt one at a time starting with the non-dealer. The remainder of the pack is placed face down in the center of the table and serves as the “stock.” The dealer then turns over the top card of the stock and places it face up next to the stock, creating the first card of the discard pile.

How to Play

The non-dealer initiates play. Players begin their turns by drawing either one or two cards from the stock, or the top card of the discard pile. After the draw, a player may choose to lay down any complete “melds” (explained below), plus any cards that add onto preexisting melds. If any cards remain in the player's hand after laying down cards for melding, then that player must discard a single card to the discard pile, ending his/her turn.

Melds consist of three or more number cards (Ace through Ten), which are either grouped by rank (having the same number value), or are grouped by sequence in the same suit (for example, the two, three, and four of clubs).

A player may add cards to the melds of the opponent, but added cards are kept with that player's own melds so as to add to his/her own score and not the opponent's. (It is not necessary for a player to have made a complete meld before adding cards to the opponent's melds). The opponent may subsequently add onto that player's additions, and so on, following the same rule. It is not necessary to lay down melds as soon as they are available.

Face cards cannot be melded, but may be used in conjunction with melds. When laying down a complete meld, the player may choose to add any single face card (Jack, Queen, or King) as a component of that meld, regardless of rank or suit. Face cards must be used at the same time as laying down a complete meld--face cards cannot be applied afterwards. Depending on the suit of the face card used, different effects apply to the melds. These four different effects are the “Four Virtues” of Royalty:

Diamonds--The Virtue of Extravagant Wealth
By including a face card of the diamonds suit with any meld, the point value of that meld is doubled. Cards added to that meld by the opponent do not receive the point bonus, while cards added by the creator of the meld do receive the bonus.
Clubs--The Virtue of Police Repression
By including a face card of the clubs suit with any meld, the numerical value of one of the melded cards may be reduced. This allows, for example, two eights and a ten to be used as a meld of three eights. This also makes it possible to meld five cards of the same rank. However, only the rank of the card may be changed, while the suit remains the same. For example you could meld 4-6-9 of hearts with a club picture as a run, reducing the 9 to 5. The point value of the changed card reflects its new rank.
Hearts--The Virtue of Bloodshed in War
By including a face card of the hearts suit with any meld, then that player may force the opponent to discard any number of cards equal to or lower than the number of cards in that meld (not including the face card--the player of the meld names the number of cards that the opponent must discard, while the opponent selects the cards).
Spades--The Virtue of Exploiting Agricultural Labor
By including a face card of the spades suit with any meld, the player may immediately draw from the stock any number of cards equal to or lower than the number of cards in that meld (not including the face card). The player may even choose not to draw any cards. The newly drawn cards may be melded on the same turn that they are drawn.

The round of play ends once a player has no cards remaining, or once the stock has been exhausted. After a player draws the last card of the stock, that player may lay down any remaining melds as the final action of the round. (That playerʼs opponent may not lay down any cards).

Scoring the Game

At the end of the round, the scores for both sides are tallied. Each player adds the value of the cards in his/her own melds plus any additional cards that were added to melds of the opponent. Number cards are worth their numerical value. Face cards that are part of melds have no intrinsic value other than the effects that they apply to the number cards. As already stated, diamond face cards apply double value to their melds, while club face cards reduce the value of an individual card in a meld. Unlike other Rummy-type games, there is no penalty for cards still held in a player's hand. But cards left in the hand cannot be scored even if some are melded.

The dealer changes after each round. The game ends when a player reaches the predetermined target number of points. If both players reach the target number in the same round, then the player with the highest score wins. In the extraordinary event of a tie, an additional round is dealt to break the tie.

[Legal Disclaimer: Do not use this game design as the basis for any product to be sold, without the consent of the inventor. Do not falsely claim credit for the invention of this game. This game design is intended to be freely distributed and played by anyone who wishes to do so.]

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Last updated: 6th September 2010