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Subject: Card game rules help rss

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Wyatt Bessing
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These are the rules for a fantasy-themed, partnership-based card game I'm creating. Those familiar with bridge will note the similarities. I'm considering simplifying the bidding (conclave) process to a Spades-like game wherein each person would simply bid the number of tricks they thought they could take and the winning side would then decide the trump suit (after looking at both hands). Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!


Starter deck, consisting of fifty-two themed playing cards, a standard deck except for the theme.

Ten-card booster pack with cards affecting this and other themes.

These rules.

Conclave Rules for Four Players

Game is played in eight rounds. Play four rounds with one team’s deck, then four more with the other team’s deck. Players may have a deck of ten boosters exactly and may sideboard an additional ten exactly to switch in and out between rounds. Players may not have more than two of the same card in each booster deck.

How to win the Game: Have more points than your opponents do at the end of eight rounds.

Sequence of Play

There are four phases in each round:
1 Deal
2 Conclave
3 Duel
4 Score


Each player is dealt thirteen cards from the main deck, using all the cards, fifty-two in total. Players then shuffle and deal themselves four of their own booster cards from their booster decks.


Each team tries to outbid the other. The team that bids the highest is said to be the declaring side and must win a certain number of duels depending on their bid.

Bid level
1 = 7 (1 more than half the total) tricks
2 = 8
3 = 9
4 = 10
5 = 11
6 = 12
7 = 13 (every trick)

Forces must be bid up the line from lowest ranking force to highest, with each new bid higher than the last.

Force ranks
1 (highest) No Trump
2 Swords
3 Wands
4 Claws
5 (Lowest) Bolts

The Swords and Wands are considered "major forces" and the Claws and Bolts "minor forces"

Card rank, lowest to highest: 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,Captain,Queen,King, Prime

For example, Joe starts the conclave by saying “1 Bolt.” If all other players pass, his side must make 7 tricks with Claws as trump. However, anyone else can bid at the 1 level as well, until someone bids 1 No Trump or higher, at which point the bidding moves to level 2. Once three players pass in a row, the conclave is over and the declarer and defender determined. Players may skip ranks or even entire levels of bidding to show strong hands or to block opponent bidding, but successive bids must always be higher than the last. Another possible bid is “Challenge,” which raises the penalty and reward for failing or making the bid. If the challenged player is sure they will make the bid, they may “Rechallenge,” further raising penalties and rewards.

Important: Only these bids, the level plus the force name, challenge, rechallenge, and pass, are allowed to be spoken during the conclave. Players may not discuss or mention particular cards in their hands in any way. It is therefore crucial that players work out a system to understand what one another means by bidding a certain force or level. These are identical to the suits and levels of bridge, so players can look at a basic book on bridge bidding to get ideas.

Basic bidding system:

Count your “high card points” (HCP) Primes are 4, Kings 3, Queens 2, Captains1
If you have 12 or more HCP, you should start the conclave
Bid a major suit if you have five or more of them
Bid a three or four card minor if you don’t have five in a major
Bid No trump with 15-17 HCP and a balanced hand (no really short forces)

After your partner starts the conclave:

Add your HCP to what you think he has. If you have an eight-card force between you, plan to play in that force and give yourself extra points if you have other forces that are short (2 card force is worth 1 point; 1 card is worth 3; 0 cards “a void” is worth 5)
Do you have at least 25-30 points? If so, move the conclave to Level 3 in No Trump, Level 4 in a Major Force, or Level 5 in a Minor Force in which your side has at least eight cards together. The higher the level, the more points you’ll need to succeed.
You can move slowly, as long as you keep making forcing bids
Raising a force your partner already bid shows support for that force, but not a very strong hand. For example, bidding Two Swords over One Sword shows a Hand of 6-10 HCP. Bidding Three Swords would show 11-12, almost enough for the Bonus level, if your teammate has some extra points. Your partner can pass, so don’t do this if you have a lot of points. It’s then up to the first bidder to decide what level to play at. A forcing bid mentions a new force and continues describing your hand
Try to find a force with eight cards between you. If you can’t, stop in no trump.
You should get to 3 No Trump, 4 of a Major, or 5 of a Minor whenever possible. Those give you extra points! Getting to six or seven gives you even more points!!

Bid a suit and jump to 2 no trump on your next bid to show 18-19
Open the conclave with 2 no trump with 20-21
With 22+. open the conclave with 2 Claws. This is a special bid that shows a great hand. Your teammate will now usually bid 2 Bolts (saying: “tell me your best force!”). At this point, bid a five-card or longer force or No Trump if you don’t have one. You will almost always get to a bonus now. You get Bonus points for bids at the 3,4, and 5 Levels in No Trump, Major Forces, and Minor Forces (in that order), and Super Bonuses for Levels 6 and 7.

Sometimes a booster card will allow you to change your own bid or another’s bid during the Conclave. If more than one booster card is played at a time, resolve the effects in a last in first out basis. Field boosters remain in played until canceled by another booster. If a booster causes a tie, the unboosted card wins the tie unless a booster states otherwise. Set aside each booster card played to count them in the scoring phase – each booster card played gives your opponents 50 points!

The player that first bid in the force in which the final bid was made is the “declarer.” His teammate is the “dummy.”


The person to the left of declarer leads. After the lead, the dummy puts down his hand, with the trump force on his right, each force in a vertical line toward declarer, descending in rank. Declarer will play this hand by taking the cards or calling for dummy to play particular cards. He also places his booster cards face up to be played by declarer.

Each player in turn, clockwise around the table, plays a single card (and a booster, if desired) on each of the thirteen duels. The highest card wins the duel unless the trump force is played, in which case the highest trump wins. A player may only play the trump force if they are out of the force which started that duel. The winning player of each duel collects the cards to show that he was the winner, and that winner begins another duel by playing a card on the table, to which each player must again follow the played force unless he is out of them. Continue until thirteen duels (all cards) have been played.

Booster cards may only be played on a player’s turn and along with another card, unless the booster states otherwise. A main deck card must always be played in each duel by each player, unless the booster states otherwise.

IMPORTANT: You may only play a booster card on your turn, unless the card states otherwise or another player plays a booster card first. You may always respond to a booster card with another booster card, and you may play more than one booster card at a time. You may also discard two booster cards to counter a booster card at the time it is played. Booster cards affecting cards of a certain name affect any card with that word in any part of its name. For example, a “+4 to dragons” would affect Dragonflies.


If bid is made:

30 points per duel won
-10 points per duel won if played in a Minor Force
+10 points total if played in No Trump
+50 points if collecting no Bonus or Super Bonus
+50 points if challenged
Bonus points for reaching 3 No Trump, 4 or 5 in a Major Force, 5 in a Minor force: +300 points for Bonus OR +500 if Fate was Smiling
+750 points for Super Bonus (win all but one) OR +1000 if Fate was Smiling
+1000 points for Super Super Bonus (win all duels) OR +1500 if Fate was Smiling
+ a number of points for overtricks if doubled:
For a challenged contract, non-fated 100 per overtrick
For a rechallenged contract, non-fated 200 per overtrick
For a challenged contract, fated 200 per overtrick
For a rechallenged contract, fated 400 per overtrick

Note: You collect only one Bonus or Super Bonus (not cumulative)

If bid is not made When Fate is Smiling on You (points for the other side):
Unchallenged 100 per undertrick
Challenged 200, 500, +300 per trick over two
Rechallenged 400, 1000, +600 per trick over two

Not made when fate Not Smiling on You(points for the other side)
Unchallenged 50 per undertrick
Challenged 100, 300, 500, +300 per trick after three
Rechallenged 200, 600, 1000, +600 per trick over three

The hand of Fate:

Each round, Fate may smile upon your team, granting you bonuses if you make your bid, but giving you harsher penalties if you lose. Remember MYOB to know on whom Fate smiles on any given round. First hand is Me (deck owner), then You (non-owner), then 0 (no teams), then Both teams. Pass the Clover card to show the hand of Fate.

After scoring, main deck and booster cards are reshuffled. The deal (and opening bidder moves clockwise around the table). After four hands, switch to a new main deck if desired and Fate again smiles on the dealer. After the eighth hand is played and scored, the team with the highest score wins.


Conclave for 2 players

Make the following changes:

Dealing Phase

Instead of dealing each round, place the main deck at the center of the play area. Each player in turn, starting with the owner of the deck the first round and alternating thereafter, draws a card. He may keep this card or discard it and draw the next one. If he chooses to take the first card, the next is discarded face down. Continue this way until the deck is exhausted and each player has thirteen cards, at which point the conclave begins. Booster cards are dealt normally.


Bidding levels are the same as in the four player game, but since there are no partnerships, each player should make the bid they think they can make with their own hand. You may make bids to mislead your opponent. After two passes, the hand begins

Play and Score

Play and score is the same as in the four player game, but there is no dummy hand.

Optional two player rule

Dealing: Deal out all four hands, making two dummy hands, revealing seven of each dummy hand. Then deal boosters

Conclave for 3 players

Played in six or nine rounds (decide in advance)
Each player may have his/her main deck and boosters. Play an equal number of hands (either two or three) with each player’s main deck.

Dealing Phase

Create a dummy hand during dealing by dealing a fourth hand of thirteen cards and turning over seven of these cards. Booster cards are dealt as normal.


All players bid to play with the dummy hand, and should evaluate and bid their hand to the level they think they can make with the dummy hand as their teammate. The winning bidder is declarer, and the rest of the dummy is upturned after the lead. Two passes ends the bidding (the declarer does not have a chance to change his/her bid).

Play and Score

Play and score is the same as the four player game.


There are no fate bonuses in three-player Conclave.
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Kent Reuber
United States
San Mateo
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You might look at the rules for the game aBRIDGEd, which tries to simplify bidding, while still playing like bridge. The rules are online on the publisher's site. As with your proposal, in Abridged, the trump suit is declared after dummy is revealed.
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Wyatt Bessing
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I checked it out and may go with that approach. I'm hoping a simple system/explanation of bidding might suffice, however. My main question involved what types of themes/cards would interest gamers in playing a bridge-like game, since it is so deep and rewarding and not as inaccessible as many seem to believe.
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Wim van Gruisen
Den Bosch
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I don't see the advantage in refraining to use a normal deck of cards, and with the use of special terms instead of the normal 'bid' and 'play'. Using all kinds of proprietary words and symbols makes it harder to switch from a pre-bridge game to the real bridge.

When your alternative deck of cards uses suits like Swords and Wands, I start to think that you are using Tarot cards, but then you use nuts and bolts instead of cups and coins.

Minibridge (look it up in Google) is currently the game used in the Netherlands to introduce the bridge game to young people, and according to what I read, with a great deal of success.
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Wyatt Bessing
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What I'm actually trying to get at is a faster, more theme-based trick-taking game with collectible boosters, sort of a combination of Bridge and Magic. I do appreciate the thought of keeping the original suit names/symbols for simplicity. It's not so much an introduction to bridge as a trick taking game with extra booster cards that happens to have the same scoring (and bidding structure, though that could be optional "Tournament Rules") as Bridge.


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