Turtle Soup
Designed by P.D. Magnus
Players 4-6
Length 20 min+
Extra Material chips

a press-your-luck game of fraught cuisine

It's soup night at Absurdity House. A big stock pot is simmering on the stove. As guests arrive and add ingredients, the soup becomes richer and more delicious. If you take a bowl now, you won't get to taste what comes next. But if you wait too long, some jackass will drop a turtle butt in the broth and turn it into swill.


In addition to the Decktet, you'll need chips or tokens in two denominations. In the rules, these are called 'large' and 'small' chips, but you can use two sizes, two colours, or two entirely different kinds of tokens. Set these in the middle of the table as a bank.

Game play

The game is played over a series of hands, called nights.

At the beginning of each night, shuffle the deck and put it face down on the table. One player can take charge of flipping cards. Since all cards are shared, it doesn't matter who does the flipping.

Start the pot boiling: Flip a card face up and then flip another. Continue until there are cards showing four or more of the six Decktet suits.

When cards are flipped over, add chips to the pot: For an Ace or Crown, add one large chip. For a number card, add a number of small chips equal to the rank of the card. These chips come from the bank.

Take a bowl? Active players simultaneously indicate whether they intend to take a bowl now or wait for more ingredients.

We do this by giving a black stone and a white stone to each player. You put a stone in your closed fist and hold it out. A white stone means you are waiting, a black stone means you are taking your bowl now.

If a player takes a bowl, they get their share of the pot. Divide the number of small chips in the pot by the number of active players and round down. Similarly, divide the number of large chips in the pot by the number of active players and round down. The player taking a bowl gets that many small and large chips.

Example: There are 13 small chips and 2 large chips in the pot, with three active players. Any players who decide to take their bowl now will get 4 of the small chips and none of the large chips.

After players take their bowl of soup, they are no longer active players for that soup night. If there are any active players remaining, flip another card and add to the pot as before.

Too many cooks: If the additional card makes it so that the face up cards include at least one instance of each of the six Decktet suits, then the soup has gone Turtle Butt. The soup night is over. Return any chips in the pot to the bank. Players who didn't take a bowl get nothing for that night.

If the soup has not gone Turtle Butt, remaining active players indicate whether they want to take a bowl or wait. If any active players remain, flip another card. And so on until either everyone has taken a bowl or the soup has gone Turtle Butt.

Playing chicken with soup: The game should be played for at least five soup nights. Obviously, you can make the game longer by playing more nights. In the end, each small chip collected is worth 1 point and each large chip is worth 5. The player with the most points wins.

Since a player's share of small and large chips from the pot are calculated separately and both rounded down, it is important not to make change from the pot. Once you have chips from a bowl you've taken, however, it is fine to make change with the bank as necessary.

The extended deck

One idea for Pawns and Courts is to have them put in an extra large chip. If you manage to collect an extra large chip, it's worth 10.


Design: P.D. Magnus

Playtesting: Joe Levy, Cristyn Magnus, Jason Mutford, Karen Traite

The game is an attempt to improve on the game Turtle Butt, inspired by Alan Moon and Bruno Faidutti's Diamant. It is really too similar to its inspiration. Any suggestions for shaking it up would be welcome.



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