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I want a game I can play with a tarot deck that is fun and uses the major arcana to its advantage. I do not want to design it myself because:

  • I do believe this is one of those things where people who do something for a living have real skills the rest of us don’t, and
  • I do not have playtesters who would be willing to learn a shifting set of rules over the course of design iteration.

the brief

prior art

I enjoy how the sandwiches in Egyptian Ratscrew complicate one’s sense of game state.

Hearts gets very monotonous, but I’ve liked playing it.

The description here of Rich Man Poor Man doesn’t quite match what I remember playing. What I recall was closer to Speed.

This sweeping game looks really fun. I like things that are satisfying in the way that jumping your checker over multiple checkers to capture at once can be.

The main game I’m thinking about in my hubris to consider the need for A New Game is Cripple Mr. Onion. My family bought the cards for, learned, and played the non-gambling variant when I was in high school and it was a great time. We only ever incorporated a few of the twisty variant rules but I loved that there were more to learn. I like games that are complicated like that such that you’re never really sure if you have a good sense of the Optimal Winning Strategy, but they’re sort of fun to pick your way through either way.

features from proper tarot games

If I have to score in fractions my friends will all abandon me. Similarly, partners and bidding are both right out.

Maintaining special status for the Trull seems right and just.

Ranking the numbered cards with 1 as high and 10 as low is fine with me.

incorporating the spirit of the modern use of tarot decks

I think it’s tempting to try to have each player accumulate cards in front of them like building a tarot spread, perhaps with some adversarial swapping, but this seems like it’s almost making fun of tarot readings. Rather, I’d love to figure out mechanical effects for major arcana that have to do with their symbolic readings. Maybe only a few of them? Or maybe to be incorporated in a certain order? Or maybe just really easy to remember, like Death can be played on a trick or meld with only cards with faces in it to invert its point value? It’d be possible to only include a subset of the major arcana cards while people are learning.

There can’t be too much to memorize in the base game, because I want to be able to play this with people who aren’t fully nuts, but it’d be cool if the suits were a little meaningful (even in just an elemental rock-paper-scissors kind of way).