|Designed by||Alexander Brady|
|Length||5-15 minutes per game|
|Extra Material||Extended Decktet|
A game of bluffing and set-building.
You are a Fistellavate, an astrologer of the Bard's Last Star. Plebeian yokels may pronounce your title "Fist-Ell-Ah-Vayt," but you, a truly posh astrologer, know to pronounce the title "Fist-Ell-Ah-Vay-Tee."
Your teacher, the venerable Fistolarvena Alfred, is frequently asked for astrological predictions by the king. He then assigns these questions to you, his pupils. As the Fistolarvena wisely says, "It is best to learn by doing, and plausible deniability only works if you delegate."
Fistellevates requires bluffing and hand management, where your cards can either represent observations that you must bundle together to support theories, or plans to propose to the head astrologer.
Players compete to reduce the unexplained omens in their hand and their bundles. The player with the lowest total omens scores the difference in omens between the two players. It is recommended to play Fistellavates over multiple rounds, keeping track of each player's score.
Fistellavates uses the extended Decktet deck (including the 's and the 's), but without the Excuse.
- Shuffle the deck and deal each player 10 cards face down to form their starting hand.
- Deal each player three cards that should be placed in three separate piles, face up, to form their starting bundles.
- Deal one card into each player’s discard. Compare them using the “Comparing Plan Cards” rules below. If they tie, the player with the longest beard wins. The player whose discard wins the comparison is given the title of “best student.” (This might be important if both players tie on the first turn, but probably won’t matter)
Rank and Value
The rank of cards in Fistellavates is slightly modified from traditional Decktet rankings:
Lower ← A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 → Higher
Each card has an omen value in Fistellavates as well. Crowns () are 0 omens, aces are 1 omen, numbered cards signify a number of omens equal to the number on the card (4's are 4 omens, for example), pawns () are 10 omens, and courts () are 11.
The Flow of Play
Each turn consists of four phases (plus a fifth phase that only takes place if one of the players can end the game), but typically only one player will get to take advantage of two of the phases.
- Drawing: Each player will draw one more card.
- Planning: Each player chooses a card to propose as a plan to the Fistolarvena. The player who proposed the better plan becomes the “predictor” for this turn and goes on to steps 3 and 4. (In the comparison with rummy-style games, this is also the discard a card step)
- Correcting: Depending on which plan the predictor picked, they may get to exchange cards from their hand with cards from their bundles.
- Suggesting: Depending on which suits are on the plan the predictor picked, they may get to add cards from their hand to their bundles.
- Declarations and Game End: If the current predictor has created enough focused bundles and has a small hand, they may choose to end the game by declaring a prediction. But be careful! The Fistolarvena will examine how many omens each player has left unexplained, and the player who chose to end the game might not win after all!
Each player, starting with the “best student,” decides whether to take the top card off of their opponent’s discard or the top card of the deck. If the deck is empty, shuffle all but the top card of each player’s discard together to form a new draw deck.
If the PREVIOUS round ended in a tie, both players must take the top card of the deck and cannot take the top of their opponent's discard.
Each player chooses a card to discard and places it face down in front of them. Both players simultaneously reveal and compare discarded cards, placing them on top of their discard pile. The player with the winning card is declared the new predictor, given the title of “best student,” and may perform corrections and suggestions. The loser does nothing.
Comparing Plan Cards
The cards, when used as plans, follow a rock-paper-scissors relationship, where a card with two suits beats a card with one suit, and a card with three suits beats a card with two suits, but a card with one suit beats a card with three suits.
If both cards have the same number of suits, the card with the higher rank (and thus the higher value) wins.
If the cards have the same rank (and thus also the same number of suits), the two cards tie.
In the event of a tie, both players are given the title of “co-predictor” (which is not the same as “predictor”) and perform both the corrections and the suggestions phases. The “best student” goes first (the “best student” is the player who most recently won a planning phase, without tying). The Declaration phase is skipped if the players tie, so the game can never end on a turn where the players tied.
Focused and Unfocused Bundles
Each player has three piles in front of them that represent their three bundles. Bundles cannot be created or destroyed, but they can grow (though they cannot shrink). Though the player can add a card to any bundle they choose (provided they follow the rules for suggesting or correcting cards), their goal is to create “focused” bundles.
A bundle is focused if there are at least three cards in the bundle and all the cards in the bundle can be arranged to form a single “correlation” or a single “trend.”
A Correlation consists of three or more cards of the same rank.
A Trend consists of three or more cards that can be arranged in order of consecutive rank, and so that each consecutive card shares at least one suit with the card before it. Note that, because many cards have two or more suits, the first card and the last card in the same trend might not have any suits in common.
The predictor, or co-predictor, may swap cards (“corrections”) between their hand and their bundles based on what card they won or tied with. Note that cards may never be swapped between two different bundles directly, they must be swapped into the hand first.
- One suit: The predictor or co-predictor may swap any single card from their hand with any single card from any single bundle.
- Two suits: The predictor or co-predictor may exchange a card from their hand with a card from one of their bundles as long as at least one of the two cards is the same rank as the winning (or tying) plan card. They may make a second swap if it includes another card of the same rank, but any single card may never be involved in more than one swap on the same turn.
- Three suits: No swapping is possible.
Alicia wins the planning phase with the A. She then swaps the from her hand with the 7 in her first bundle.
The next turn, Milfred wins the planning with the 9. She swaps the 9 in her first bundle with the from her hand, then swaps the 9 from her hand with the 2 in her second pile. She cannot make any more swaps, because each 9 has been used in one swap already.
On the third turn, Alicia wins planning with the . She regrets her earlier decision and wants to swap out the from her first bundle, but she cannot because planning cards with three suits do not allow for any swapping.
The predictor or co-predictor may add cards (suggestions) from their hand into any of their bundles as long as the cards they add share at least one suit with the winning (or tying) plan card.
Alicia wins planning with the . Her third bundle only contains the 8. She adds to her third bundle the 8 from her hand. She would like to add the 8 as well, but she cannot because it does not share any suits with the .
The predictor (but not a co-predictor) may declare a Hypothesis or a Proof if they meet the necessary conditions, which ends the game. If they do not make a declaration, they are given the title of “best student,” and another turn is played.
If the predictor is left with three or fewer cards in their hand and has at least one focused bundle, they may declare “I have a hypothesis!” They must then state a hypothesis, which must somehow include all the names of the cards in one of their focused bundles.
After the predictor has declared a hypothesis, their opponent may add any cards they wish from their hand to their own bundles. If the opponent has any focused bundles, they may state a competing hypothesis using the names of the cards in one of their focused bundles.
Then both players count the total unexplained omens in their hands and their unfocused bundles (cards in focused bundles are considered explained and are worth zero unexplained omens).
If the predictor’s hand and bundles add up to a smaller total of unexplained omens, they score the difference plus an additional ten points for making a good hypothesis. If their opponent has a lower total value, they score the difference. Ties go to the predictor, who only scores the bonus ten points.
Milfred declares a hypothesis with the following bundles:
First Bundle Second Bundle Third Bundle 2/3/4/5/6 // /
She also has the , A, and 4 in her hand. Her first and second bundles are focused, so they amount to 0 omens. Her third bundle is unfocused, with 20 unexplained omens. Her hand has 15 omens. Thus, she has 35 unexplained omens.
Alicia, Milfred’s opponent, has the following bundles:
First Bundle Second Bundle Third Bundle 4/5/6/8/9 A/A 9
She also has the 7, , , A, and A in her hand. Because Milfred declared a hypothesis, Alicia can add the 7, , and to her first bundle to make a trend, and the two aces from her hand to her second bundle to make a correlation. She then has two focused bundles valued at 0 omens, a third, unfocused bundle valued at 9 omens, and no cards in hand.
In this example, Alicia has the total unexplained omens, so she scores 35 omens - 9 omens = 26 points. She does not score any bonus points because she did not make the declaration.
Sometimes an predictor can do better than declaring a hypothesis. If an predictor has focused all three of their bundles (either as three correlations or as three trends, or a combination of both) and three or fewer cards left in hand, they may declare “I have a proof!” They must then state what they have proven, including all of the names of the cards in one of their bundles in their proof.
If the predictor declares a proof, their opponent is not given the opportunity to add cards from their hand to any bundles. However, if their opponent has any focused bundles they may state a reason that their opponent’s proof is invalid, using all the names of the cards in one of their bundles.
Both players total the unexplained omens of the cards in their hands and in their unfocused bundles (note: in this case, the predictor will always have 0 unexplained omens in their bundles). If the predictor has a lower total, they score the difference plus an additional twenty for successfully completing a proof. Otherwise, their opponent scores the difference, but does not score any bonus points (because disproving a proof is sad for everyone involved). Ties go to the predictor, who only scores the bonus twenty points.
Milfred declares a proof with the following bundles:
First Bundle Second Bundle Third Bundle 2/3/4/5/6 // //
She also has the A and 4 in her hand. All of her bundles are focused, so they have a value of 0 unexplained omens. Her hand has a value of 5 omens. Thus, her total value is 5 unexplained omens.
Alicia, Milfred’s opponent, has the following bundles:
First Bundle Second Bundle Third Bundle 4/5/6/7/8/9 A/A 9
She also has the , , A, and A in her hand. Because Milfred declared a proof, Alicia cannot add anything from her hand to her bundles. Her first bundle is focused and has a value of 0 unexplained omens. Her other two, unfocused bundles are valued at (1+1)+(9) = 11 omens. Her hand is valued at 10+11+1+1 = 23 omens.
In this example, Milfred has the lower number of unexplained omens, so she scores 34 omens - 5 omens = 29 points, plus an additional 20 points because Milfred won the proof she declared, for a total of 49 points.
It is suggested to play multiple games of Fistellavates, keeping track of each player’s score. Players should play for the first to two hundred points. A higher point goal will make for a longer session, and a lower goal will make the session shorter.
Once Through the Deck
To guarantee a short game and prevent some stalemates, players can choose not to reshuffle the deck. If no player has made a declaration by the time the deck runs out, players total up their unexplained omens (with no chance to play any extra cards) and the player with the lower total scores the difference. Ties go to no one, because the difference is 0 and there are no bonus points.
Three Player Variant
Fistellavates can be played with three players, with a few modifications to the rules.
Bundles and Hands
With three players, each player gets two bundles and eight cards in their hand.
Rules for drawing are the same as the rules for two players, except now there are two piles of opponent's discards to choose from. If one of the discards runs out (which can happen if one player keeps dropping cards the other two both want), then no one can take a card from the empty discard.
When reshuffling the deck, collect all but the top card (if any) from each player's discard before shuffling.
During the planning phase, each player should compare their plan card with that of the player to their left to determine if they are a “predictor” or a “co-predictor.” Because of this there can be one, two, or three “predictors” on the same turn and one or three “co-predictors” on the same turn.
If there is more than one predictor or co-predictor on a turn, players should act in order of the rank on their plan cards, highest first. If there are three co-predictors, use the turn order from the previous turn.
Ending the Game
In turn order, each player is given the option to end the game according to the rules described in the declarations phase for two players. However, a “proof” only requires two focused bundles (because players only have two bundles). Three or less cards left in the hand is always required.
A co-predictor may never attempt to end the game, even if they are the only co-predictor that turn.
If the declarer, the player that ended the game, has the lowest total number of unexplained omens, or is tied for the lowest total, they score the difference between their value and the next lowest value plus any bonus for a proof or hypothesis. Otherwise, every opponent who had a lower total scores the difference in their number of unexplained omens and the declarer’s total.
Fistellevates is inspired by Gin Rummy and Yomi (by Sirlin Games). Images of ranks, suits, and cards taken from the print & play version of Decktet.