Fracas

This game, contributed by Dan Shahin , is loosely based on game mechanics of Magic the Gathering (MtG) and War.

It requires a 52 card deck plus 2 jokers, which is split into two separate 27-card decks of red and black.

Each player begins with 20 life points, and loses the game if these are all lost. To keep track of these it is convenient to use 40 counters or tokens, 20 per player.  Poker chips work well, but almost anything will do.

Types of cards:

  1. Generals: J Q K and Joker
  2. Soldiers: 2-10
  3. Assassins: Ace

Note: To “tap” a card is to turn it 90 degrees into a horizontal position.  This indicates that the tapped card can’t be used for any further action until it is untapped by rotating it to a vertical position. Tapping a General allows a player to enlist a Soldier of the same suit from his hand to the board. Tapping a Soldier allows a player to attack an opponent. This concept should be familiar to players of MtG, as should some of the basic mechanics of the turn structure.

One player plays with the red deck, the other with the black deck and each begins with 20 tokens. Each player shuffles their deck, stacks it face down and starts with a hand of 7 cards drawn from the top of their deck. Each player draws one card from the top of their deck at the beginning of every turn, including the first turn.  Players must discard down to a maximum of 7 cards at the end of their turn. If either player has no Generals in their opening hand they may request to shuffle their deck and redeal their hand by showing it.

During the game each player has a face down deck from which new cards are drawn, a face up discard pile of used cards that are now out of the game, a hand of cards held so that the opponent cannot see their faces, and a number of face up cards that are in play, on the Battlefield.

A player who has an untapped General on the Battlefield may play an Ace from hand at any time, even during the opponent's turn, to eliminate any one card in play.  In order to play the Ace a General must be tapped. The General does not have to be the same suit as the Ace.

Steps in a single turn:

  1. Untap: Return any sideways cards to their upright (vertical) position.
  2. Draw: Draw a card
  3. Deploy: Add up to one General (or one pair of matching Generals i.e.: KK, JJ, QQ) to the Battlefield (Generals enter play tapped). A Joker can substitute to make a pair of Generals, but not 3 of a kind.  A Joker is just like a General except it may enlist cards from either suit.  General cards can not attack, but they may defend in a skirmish if the General is untapped.  A General always loses in a skirmish regardless of the attacker’s value.
  4. Enlist: Tap any untapped General to enlist a Soldier of the same suit from your hand into play. The soldier is not tapped, but it can’t attack in the same round it is enlisted.  Indicate this condition by playing newly enlisted Soldiers on top of the tapped general, but leaving the soldier untapped for use in defense during the next player’s turn.  If the player is holding a pair, both Soldiers may be enlisted using only one tapped General.
  5. Attack:  
    1. Player taps all untapped Soldiers they wish to attack with.  Pairs of soldiers can play together as a single attack or separately but that must be decided up front by the attacker and indicated by stacking them or not, respectively.  
    2. Once attackers are declared and tapped, the Defender must choose if and how to defend each attacker individually.  Each of these pairings of an attacking card(s) and defending card(s) is a Skirmish.  
    3. The skirmish is decided by comparing the numerical total of the attackers to the total of the defending cards in each skirmish.  The side with the lower value in the skirmish is discarded, and a tie results in both sides being discarded.  
    4. If a skirmish has no defending card assigned, the damage points are deducted from the defending player’s tokens and put into the pot (the spoils of war).  
  6. Discard: Player must discard down to 7 cards in their hand before ending turn.

The game ends when either player runs out of tokens or cards when it is their turn to draw.  If a player runs out of cards to draw before running out of tokens, the player with the most tokens left wins what is in the pot, but the other player keeps any tokens still in his or her possession.  A tie goes to the player with the most cards left to draw.

The overall object is to win all 20 of the opponent's tokens. If the game ends by a player running out of cards to draw, another game is played, each player beginning with the tokens they had left.

It is possible to introduce a mild gambling element by allowing the players to purchase additional tokens between games.