|Designed by||Greg James|
In this trick-taking game, trumps are defined by Interpretive Type. After trump has been identified, players evaluate their hands and choose a suit that they will score for the current round. A point is awarded for each card in a player’s take at the end of the round which matches suit with his choice.
Basic Decktet A, 2-9,
Suit tokens optional, but recommended
If you are using the suit tokens, give one of each suit to every player.
The Dealer deals out the entire deck evenly to all players and announces the trump type for the round (see "Trump Defined" section below). For your first few plays it is recommended to play with just Personalities as trump each round until players get used to the game. Thereafter, trump will cycle through the 3 types. Round 1 will be a Personality trump round, Round 2 will have Locations as trump and the third Round will have Events as trump. If the game hasn’t ended yet, the next Round will begin the cycle again with Personalities as trump.
Next, players each declare a scoring suit (see next section) and then play begins with the player to the Dealer’s left and continues clockwise.
In each successive round, the new Dealer is the player who was first to play in the current round.
Declaring a Suit
Before the round begins, players will evaluate their hands and then declare one suit that will be their scoring suit for the round. If you are not using the tokens, then this is done around the clock starting with the Dealer. If you are using the suit tokens, the declaring may be done simultaneously. Each player secretly selects the token which matches their choice and keeps it in his hand. When all players are ready, the suit chips are revealed and then placed so that all players are aware of their opponent’s choices. (A suit may be chosen by more than one player). At the end of the round, players will score one point for each card in their take which has the suit they chose at the beginning of the round.
This means that each player has the potential to score 10 points in any given round and may glean up to 4 of these points in a single trick (in a 4p game).
Players are also permitted to not select a suit, which means they are playing the Spoiler for the round. More than one player may choose this, but if all players choose the Spoiler, the hand is scrubbed. If you are using the suit tokens, the player will not place a chip in hand and will reveal an empty hand during the declaration phase at the beginning of the round.
The Spoiler must win exactly one trick and his score for the round will be the highest number of cards in this trick which matches suit with one other player’s scoring suit. If the Spoiler wins more than one trick or fails to win any tricks, he scores zero for the round.
Each round, trump will be one of the following:
Personalities — the “face” cards of the Decktet
Locations — indicated on the cards by a bisected circle
Events — indicated on the cards by a solid black circle
Although the card distribution is different for each type, there will be exactly 11 trump cards regardless of which type is trump. It is recommended that players separate trump cards from the rest of their hand when they are arranging their cards before each round.
Three special cards
The Origin 2, The Market 6 and The End are dual typed cards and may be either Locations or Events. If either of these Types are trump, then these 3 special cards are trump cards for that round.
Cards follow their usual rank order (low to high): A, 2-9, .
Trumps have their limitations as their trump power is only active if they follow suit (when the lead card isn’t a trump) or follow the trump type (when trump is the lead card). Otherwise, they are powerless cards. Examples follow below.
For your first few plays, it is helpful if the lead player calls out whether the lead card is a trump or not, until everyone gets used to this mechanism.
Lead card is not a trump
If the lead card is not a trump, all players must play a card which shares a suit with it (if they are able). If a player is unable to follow suit, then any card from their hand may be played. If there are no trumps which match suit played to the trick, the highest card played which shares a suit with the lead wins. If two cards are tied for the highest rank, the last one played takes the trick.
If a player wishes to trump the trick, his trump must match a suit with the lead card. Note that if the only card a player has in his hand which matches suit with the lead is a trump, he is obliged to play it. Thus The Desert 2 may take a trick led by The Bard if Locations are trump for that round. Note that a Location card which lacks a Sun (e.g The Cave 7) could not trump The Bard lead in this example.
If more than one valid trump is played to the trick, the highest ranked trump wins. If the highest trumps are the same rank, the last one played wins. Again, any trump must share a suit with the lead card to have its trump power activated.
Play by play example:
Locations are trump and cards are played in this order:
The Savage 3 - The Castle 7 - The Merchant 9 - The Cave 7.
Who wins? The Savage is a Personality card and is therefore not a trump this round, so players must follow suit if they are able. The second player plays The Castle, which is a trump card but doesn’t share a suit with the lead, so The Savage is still reigning the trick at this point. 3p plays The Merchant (which shares Leaves with the Savage) and takes the lead. 4p wins the trick with The Cave b/c it is the only trump played which shares a suit with the lead (Wyrms). If 4p declared either Leaves, Wyrms or Knots as his scoring suit at the beginning of the round, winning this trick gleans him two points. If his scoring suit is Suns or Waves, this trick is worth one point to him and if his suit is Moons it scores zero.
Trump as lead card
Similarly, all players must follow trump if it is led, but in this case it is Type which must be matched - not suit. e.g. If Personalities are trump for this round and The Penitent 6 is led, all other players must follow with a Personality card (regardless of suit) and the highest ranked Personality card will take the trick (again, regardless of suit). If a player is out of trumps, he may play any card from his hand and will lose the trick.
When all cards have been played, the round ends and players tally their scores. A player’s score for the round is simply the number of cards in his take which match suit with his chosen suit. Any player who chose the Spoiler and successfully took just a single trick will score 1 point for each card which matches one player’s scoring suit. Otherwise the Spoiler scores zero.
The player who led this round is the new Dealer for the next round and will announce the new trump type as described in the Setup section.
Play for a set number of rounds, say one round for each player in the game. Or play to a target score of 21 for a shorter game or 31 for a longer game. If the score is tied when the target has been reached, play another round to settle it.
Pawns and Courts have not been tested in this game yet, but I feel they may prove to be overpowered.
4p Partnership Rules
Untested, but here’s a wacky idea that I think will work well with this game:
Partners sit across from each other, the deck is dealt out, trump type is announced and players examine and arrange their cards. Then partners swap hands. The teams decide together what their scoring suit will be and make their bid. There is no spoiler option in the partnership game. The game is played normally with each player playing the hand that was dealt to their partner. At the end of each round, tricks taken by partners are combined and scored.
It will definitely take players a round or two of Type Trump to get their heads wrapped around the suit and trump rules, scoring and their implications for game play. None of the following study is necessary to enjoy the game, but may help players figure out some strategies earlier if they end up enjoying it. (I find the study fun too).
Following in the footsteps of Shed, this game presents new territory for determining “suit” in a Decktet game and forces players to think about the cards and tricks differently from other trick taking games. Players who are very familiar with the Decktet are at a definite advantage in this game, so I recommend that new players have access to the table (on page 134) in the Decktet Book: “Summary of Cards by Interpretive Type” while playing. This table has been generously reproduced by the author and can also be found on page 9 here.
In addition to this, players who have a grasp of the Antipathetic suits will also fare better at the game. This information can be seen at a glance on the Nonesuch Reference card which is available on p. 7 of the file referenced above and is also available with the latest Artscow Decktet.
For fun, I have compiled the following table. It shows that each type of trump will have suits distributed like this:
As usual, to P.D. Magnus for creating and gifting the Decktet.