This is a strategic game for three players, contributed by Wei-Hwa Huang (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Starting the Game
Shuffle a standard deck, and deal out five cards to each player; these will be their hands, and they can look at them. The rest of the deck is placed face down to become a draw pile. Players are allowed to count the number of cards in the draw pile at any time during the game. Player to the left of dealer gets the first turn, and play goes clockwise.
For this game, Aces count as face cards, as well as the Jack, Queen, and King. All face cards have a value of 0 (zero), all other cards have their numeric values. Face cards can also act as "bonus mutipliers"; see Scoring, below.
As the game progresses, each player will have four "private stacks" in front of them, any of which may be empty (in fact, all four will be empty at the start of the game). These "stacks" correspond to the four suits, and a card played to a private stack can only be played to the appropriate stack. (As seen below, the cards in one's stacks is the only determining factor of one's score.) There are also four "public stacks", which belong to no player and are in the middle of the table. Again, there is one stack for each suit and a card played to a public stack can only be played on the appropriate stack. Cards should be played on stacks so that all cards in the stacks are visible.
On your turn, you must do these two actions:
- Play a card; and
- Draw a card.
Playing a Card
When you play a card, it can only be played in two locations:
- On the top of one of your private stacks; or
- On the top of a public stack.
The suit of the card determines which private stack or which public stack, as appropriate. When played on your own private stacks, you cannot play a card of lower value than a card already in the stack. (This means that face cards must be played before all other cards, and numeric cards must be played in increasing order.) There is no such restriction on the public stacks, so there are never any unplayable cards.
Drawing a Card
When drawing a card, you must do one of the following:
- Draw the top (unseen) card from the draw pile; or
- Draw the top (seen) card from any public stack.
You then put the card into your hand.
Ending the Game
The game is over immediately when the last card from the draw pile is drawn. It does not matter what is in the public stacks. Note that when there are few cards in the draw pile, a player may prolong the game by drawing from the public stacks.
Only a player's own private stacks determine their score, as follows:
- A stack that contains exactly N face cards and no other cards scores (-10)x(N+1) points. In other words, a single face card scores -20, two face cards score -30, and so on, to a maximum penalty of -50.
- If the total value of a stack is any number from 1 (one) to 12 (twelve), it scores 0 (zero) points.
- If the total value of a stack is more than 12 (twelve), it scores its value minus twelve. This value gets a "bonus multiplier" depending on the number of face cards in the stack -- one face card is x2, two face cards is x3, and so on. If the player has all four face cards, it is a x5 multiplier.
Example: Say a stack is "K-J-2-6-7-8". The stack's total value is 23, and so it scores (23-12)x3 = 33 points.
Play a fixed number of rounds (six is a good number). Highest score wins. Alternatively, play to a fixed score (200 is good).
This game was devised by Wei-Hwa Huang, based on Reiner Knizia's two-player commercial game "Lost Cities". I don't know if it is similar to any traditional game.
[The mechanism has some slight similarity to Mitch Gunzler's Revolution, but the details of the play and scoring are quite different. JM]