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Subject: 6 Noble Houses rss

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Brian
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Oneonta
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Before anyone says anything, I am aware that the way this game is set up compromises the spirit of the Rogues and Warrior's deck somewhat by getting rid of the card value curve. However, I think it's still different enough from a normal deck of cards considering there are 6 suits and dragon specials to make it interesting. So here it is.

6 Noble Houses

This is a trick-taking game for two teams of 2 players using part of the Rogues and Warriors deck. The first team to place their marker on the Warrior grey placeholder card wins.

THE SETUP
To prepare, separate out one Warrior, Lady, Bard, Merchant, and Rogue from each of the six suits (Rabbit, Wren, Horse, Owl, Wolf, and Hawk) as well as the 3 dragons. This creates the game’s 33-card deck.

Now arrange the grey double-sided rank cards in order. This scale will keep track of each team’s points. Each team should use some kind of marker (the red and white gems from Red Dragon Inn work great) and starts with it off the board, or below the Rogue. Teammates sit across from each other, and the first dealer is selected.

THE CARDS
Each suit has one of each of the 5 face cards, ranked in order with Rogues being least valuable and Warriors being the most valuable. Dragons are also present, but have different values depending how they are used (explained later).

THE DEAL
Dealing a complete hand takes place in 3 phases.

Phase 1: The Foundation
The dealer deals 4 cards to each player in clockwise order starting with the player to his left, which the players then pick up.

Phase 2: The Exchange
Players will now have to pass a card from their hand to another player. The dealer flips over the top card of the deck. The rank of the card determines where each player must pass a card. All passing is done face down at the same time.

~ Bard (rank 3) = pass to your partner
~ Lady and Merchant (or “evens”) = pass clockwise
~ Warrior and Rogue (or “odds”) = pass counter-clockwise.
~ Dragon = Dealer chooses the passing method.

The card the dealer flipped up is now placed face down at the bottom of the deck, and the final phase of the deal begins.

Phase 3: The Completion
The dealer now finishes the deal, dealing 3 more cards to each player in clockwise order. Each player will now have a 7-card hand which they will use for the round.

CLAIMING TRUMP
The dealer again flips up the top card of the deck. The specific animal suit shown on the card has the option to be claimed as trump. Beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, players can instruct the dealer to pick up that card, announcing their wish for that suit to be trump, or pass the option to the next player. If the dealer picks it up, he then discards a card from his hand face down to the bottom of the deck.

If no player, including the dealer, claims the face up card, it is discarded face down to the bottom of the deck. Again in clockwise order from the left of the dealer, each player now has the option to call any one of the six animal suits as trump. If no trump suit is called, the dealer must claim a trump suit.

A few key changes to certain cards take place once trump is determined. Firstly, the Dragon card of the color of the suit called becomes the most powerful trump card. Second, the warrior of the off-suit of the same color as the trump suit becomes the third most powerful trump card, and counts as a member of the trump suit instead of its normal one. So, if Hawks were called as trump, the order from most powerful to least powerful of the trump suit would be:

Red Dragon
Warrior of Hawks
Warrior of Wolves
Lady of Hawks
Bard of Hawks
Merchant of Hawks
Rogue of Hawks

THE ROUND OF PLAY
Once everyone has their 7-card hand and a trump suit has been determined, the player to the left of the dealer leads the first trick. He plays a “lead card,” and all the other players must play a card of the lead card’s suit if able (even if they are holding trump cards). If a player is not holding a card of the lead suit, he has two options:

~ Play an off-suit card other then trump, with which he cannot win the trick
~ Play a trump card, which may possibly win the trick.

Each player only gets to play one card (i.e., play only goes around the table once). The winner of the trick is the player who has played the highest trump card. If no trump is played, then the player who played the highest value card of the lead suit wins the trick. The winner leads the next trick. 7 total tricks will be played, and then the winning team of the round is determined.

Playing Dragons
Dragon cards are a special case. Dragons that do not belong to the trump suit technically have no rank or suit, and therefore are not required to be used to follow suit. For instance, if Owls was lead and it is not trump, the Green Dragon does not need to be played to follow suit. However, if a player leads with a Dragon, that player calls a suit belonging to the color of that Dragon as the suit for that trick. The Dragon becomes the most powerful card of the called suit for that trick.

If a player leads the Dragon of the trump suit, it still only represents that suit and may not be called as the alternate suit. So, if Hawks is trump, the Red Dragon only counts as Hawks and can never be called as a Wolf if lead, while the other Dragons allow a player to call the suits of their colors if lead.

Independent Play
If a player feels they can win all 7 tricks without the assistance of his partner, when it is his turn to call trump, he may do so and then inform his partner that he is going to play independently. His partner discards all his cards face down to the bottom of the deck. Play then proceeds as normal. If the player who was supposed to lead the first trick was the player who has put his cards down, the first lead proceeds to the next player (the partner of the dealer). Bonus points can be scored by successfully winning all 7 tricks in this way, but also come with the risk of improving the opponent's score if an independent player loses the round.

SCORING
The team that wins the majority of the tricks in a round (minimum 4 of the 7 tricks), whether both team members played or one played independently, earns 1 point for their team, and may place a marker on the next card up the scale (moving from Rogue toward Warrior). If a team wins all 7 tricks, they not only move themselves 1 point up the scale, but reduce the other team’s score by one point as well (however once a team’s marker is removed from the board, it cannot be reduced further).

If a player has chosen to play independently and scores all 7 tricks, their team scores 2 points for their team and the opposing team loses 1 point. However, if a player choses to play independently and loses the round, the opposing team gains 2 points.

The first team to place their marker on the grey Warrior card wins the game!

VARIATIONS

Dealing – Pendulum Style
Instead of all cards being dealt clockwise during the Foundation and Completion phases, the dealer can deal clockwise during one phase and counter-clockwise in the other. It’s up to the dealer which direction to deal during which phase, as long as he deals both directions. This convention should be agreed upon before the game begins.

The Exchange: Dragons Devour
If a Dragon card is flipped up during the Exchange phase, it now forces players, in turn order, to each discard 1 card face down from their hand to the bottom of the deck instead of allowing the dealer to choose the manner of exchange. Then the Dragon card that was flipped up is discarded face down to the bottom of the deck, and 4 more cards are dealt to each player to complete their hands. Then the top card of the deck is again flipped up and trump suit is determined as normal. This new flipped up card will be one of the cards the players discarded, and players should not reveal if it was their card.
 
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Sam Waller
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I'm going to try and get a game of this playing at games tonight just to test it out. Wish us luck!
 
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Brian
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Hope you had good luck! If it went off, how did it work out?
 
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