Bharg Deluxe
Designed by Cristyn Magnus
Players 2
Length 30 min
Extra Material double deck

like Bharg, only bigger

Imagine you have been drinking too much and, as the innkeeper sounds last call, you step on the toes of a woodchuck barbarian. You avoid eye contact and mutter an apology, but he punches you in the gut. While you double over and throw up, you marvel at the force of that single punch. The sound you are making? Bharg is pronounced like that.

This is a big game relative of Bharg, adding more cards and some extra twists.

Like Bharg, there is one discard pile for Aces and another discard pile for everything else. Unlike standard Bharg, you play bharg sets or straight flushes face up in front of you.

Setup

This game uses a double Decktet; that is, two Decktets shuffled together. The standard rules use only the basic decks, and there are optional rules for extended deck cards.

Deal each player a hand of ten cards.

There are two discard piles: the Ace Pile (the discard pile for Aces) and the Discard Queue (for everything else). The top card of the Ace Pile will determine which straights may be played. The Discard Queue is used as a draw pile, but players may draw as many cards as they want. So cards in the Discard Queue should be set at a slight offset, allowing players to see its entire contents.

Then deal one card face up to start the Discard Queue. If the face up card is an Ace, then that card starts the Ace Pile and you continue to turn cards until there is a non-Ace to start the Discard Queue.

Decide fairly who starts the first hand. Play then alternates.

Game play

On your turn, you draw, bind cards (if possible), and discard.

  • Draw: You may take the top card of the deck or any number of cards from the top of the Discard Queue. You may not draw from both on a single turn.

If you draw from the Discard Queue, you may take as few as one card or as many as all the cards in the stack. However, you cannot take a card from the Discard Queue without taking every card on top of it; that is, you cannot fish out just a card that is buried half-way down.

Bind:

If you have bharg sets, complete straights, or partial straights in your hand, you may bind them by placing the cards on the table in front of you. You may bind any number of cards, but you are not required to bind cards on your turn.

A bharg set is a group of three or more cards that have one of each suit between them without duplication. A bharg set must have one and only one instance of each suit.

A complete straight is three or more cards in rank order that share a suit symbol. Every card in the straight must share a suit with the top card of the Ace Pile. If another Ace is discarded later, a straight that was already bound remains bound. If the Ace pile has no cards in it, you may not yet bind any straights.

Ranks are ordered in the usual way: A, 2, …, 9, crown.png.

A partial straight is one or two cards that can combine with cards already on the table to form a complete straight. All cards in a partial straight, both the ones that you are binding and the ones already on the table that you are using, must match the suit of the top card of the Ace Pile.

A partial straight may build on part of a bharg set or partial straight, on a complete straight, or on some combination of these. The cards the partial straight builds on may be ones played by you or your opponent, but the partial straight goes in front of you.

Examples:

  • Earlier in the game, Maire bound the bharg set 3suns.pngknots.png-5moons.pngleaves.png-7waves.pngwyrms.png; her opponent bound the set 2suns.pngwyrms.png-6moons.pngleaves.png-9leaves.pngknots.png. Now, Amoons.png is the top of the Ace Pile. Maire may play 7moons.pngleaves.png as a partial straight, building on her 5 and her opponent's 6.
  • Earlier in the game, Shar bound the complete straight 4wyrms.pngknots.png-5wyrms.pngknots.png-6leaves.pngknots.png. Now, Aknots.png. Shar may bind 3suns.pngknots.png or 7suns.pngknots.png as a partial straight but may not bind another 6leaves.pngknots.png using the 4-5.

Discard:

If you have any cards remaining, you must discard one. Aces are discarded in the Ace Pile. Any other card is added to the Discard Queue.

End of the hand

When a player has run out of cards, either by binding their last card or by discarding their last card, the hand is over.

If the first player runs out of cards on their first turn, the other player may bind any sets or straights in their hand. If the game ends later than that (as it usually will) then you're stuck with whatever is in your hand.

Scoring:

You earn points for bound cards, and lose points for any unbound cards remaining in your hand at the end. Each card is worth the number of suits that it has: Aces and Crowns are worth 1 point each; number cards are worth 2 points each regardless of rank.

It is possible to have a negative score for the hand, if you have fewer bound points than unbound points.

When playing multiple hands, add the score to the total from previous hands. The player who went second in one hand starts the next one. Continue playing until one of you reaches a target score. The player with the highest score at that time is the winner. Cristyn recommends playing to 100.

The extended deck

If you want to spice up the game, you can add the Pawns, the Courts, or both. Shuffle them in at the beginning of the hand.

Pawns and Courts contribute all three of their suits to a bharg set. For the purpose of straights, the order of ranks becomes A, 2, …, 9, pawn.png, court.png, crown.png.

Pawns and Courts are worth 3 points each at the end of the hand, either as a bonus (if bound) or a penalty (if left in your hand).

Variants

The game can sometimes drag if there isn't an Ace initially and neither player wants to discard one, because it's impossible to play straights until there's an Ace Pile. These are two possible fixes for that. Whichever turns out to be better will probably become the official rule.

Fast start, option 1: If there is not a card yet in the Ace Pile and a player draws an Ace from deck, then they put that Ace down to start the Ace Pile. They then start their turn over, drawing either from the deck or from the Discard Queue.

Fast start, option 2: If there is not a card yet in the Ace Pile, then a player must discard an Ace if possible when discarding at the end of their turn.

Credits

Design: Cristyn Magnus

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