More Decktet Noodling: Part 2

Okay. I got to try out my new Decktet game, working title Barony.
It’s okay. Needs tweaks. Replacement rules text:

Barony: A deck-building game for 2 or 3 players.
TL;DR: Bid on cards to take them into your deck (with the value of a bid being the number of shared symbols between your card and the card upon which you’re bidding, ties broken by most recent bid winning). Scoring at the end is based on what remains behind in the deck and what you have in your own deck. Being good at winning bids means removing cards which you’re good at bidding on from the deck, which means weakening your end game position. Being bad at winning bids means your opponents get to dictate policy in the game, which means weakening your end game position. You have to strike the happy medium better than they do.


Deal each player 3 cards drawn from the 4 pawns, 4 courts and (if 3 players) Excuse cards. These are their starting resources, left face up in a neat row before their owner. Any remainder (for a two person game) are discarded entirely from play, and not used at all.

The resources a player owns will be momentarily expended throughout the game, but never leave permanently. They will also increase resources by winning bids against the other players.

Separate the Decktet into the twelve 2-5 cards (stage I), the twelve aces and crowns (stage II), and the twelve 6-9 cards (stage III). Shuffle each separately. These decks are stored face down and used one at a time, stage I and, when empty, stage II and then stage III.

The stages (and “hands” dealt from them, called Markets, and their discard piles, called the shared discard pile) are not owned by any one player.

Select one player to start as Prime.

Turn order:

The prime player flips 3 cards face up from the current stage to form a Market (and, when interacting with the shared decks, they will do all of the grunt work, shuffling etc).

Each player, starting with the Prime, may either Pass* (they may no longer participate in this Market) or choose a card in the market and bid 1 card from their resources towards that card.

Bid Value: An Aside:

A bid’s value the number of shared symbols between the bidden card from the player’s resources, and the biddee card in the marketplace. The valid symbols are the numbers 2-9 and the six suit symbols; the crown, pawn and court symbols do NOT count as shared symbols for this purpose.

For instance, 9/Sun/Moon played against the Ace of Suns is a 1 point bid. 9/Leaf/Water against the Ace of Suns is a valid, but 0 point, bid. 9/Leaf/Water against the 9/Sun/Moon is _also_ a 1 point bid, because the 9s match. 9/Sun/Moon against 3/Sun/Moon is a 2 point bid, because of the matching suit symbols. The Crown of Suns played against the Ace of Suns shares 1 symbol; played against the Crown of Moons it shares 0 symbols.

Back to Turn Order:

Indicate the card upon which you are bidding and the cards with which you are bidding from your resources (probably slide those cards you are bidding forward, forming a second rank of cards). Once you’ve chosen a card to bid upon, you can’t change it for the rest of this Market.

When the bid returns to you, you may pass, you may bid additional cards and add the number of additional shared suits as before (which may be 0), or you may have won the bid, if all other players have passed.

The highest value of bid (as in, most shared symbols) is winning. If there is more than one equal highest value of bid, the most recently played bid is winning.

Resolving a Completed Bid:

Once all players but one have passed, the winner of the bid takes the card upon which they were bidding into their resources, face up, and takes those cards which were used in the bid and sets them aside (or places them face down or whatever). The loser(s) of the bid retain the cards they used for bids, unexpended. Place the other two cards from the Market into a shared discard pile.

If there is no winner because no bids were played, end the stage immediately, dumping the remainder of the stage into the discard pile.

The last person to win a bid is now Prime Player.

Completing a Stage:

When a stage can no longer yield a Market of 3 cards, all expended resource cards return to their owner’s resources, and the Prime Player replaces the deck with the next stage’s deck (discarding any remainder from the stage). After completing stage I, move on to stage II. From stage II, stage III.

At the end of stage III, shuffle all of the discards into two piles, stage IV (of 12 cards) and stage V (of at least 12 cards, though if there were previous no-bid rounds, it could be more). Though the cards are now mixed in type, play otherwise proceeds as normal, with the prime player revealing a Market, and each player bidding on them in turn, etc.

At the end of stage V, repeat the process, making a single stage VI out of all of the discarded cards (at least 16 cards, though if there were previous no-bid rounds, could be more). This is the last stage: when stage VI ends, the game is over and the non-claimed cards are used for scoring.


Lay out the remaining discards (expected 11 cards, though more if there were no-bid rounds). For each card, each player scores the number of aces and crowns they have which share a suit with it (so 0 points if they have no matching aces or crowns, up through 4 points if they have both aces and crowns of both suits for a number card). Aces and crowns themselves can score 1 point from their same-suited opposite number.

The Excuse: If used, the no-suit Excuse is a wildcard. It is always of value 1 when bidding (as though it had a single matching symbol). It matches any Aces and Crowns remaining in the shared deck during end game scoring.

Authors Notes:

Compared to the previous proposal, I’ve twiddled a lot.

Firstly: The hands refilled too frequently; as a consequence, you could (almost always) strongarm someone who hasn’t passed recently by dumping your hand since they’d be unable to bring their trumps to bear, as a consequence you basically take turns selecting cards and trumps barely mattered. Also, bidding was kind of clumsy.
Both are addressed by the new bid counting rules, since all that “more cards” gets you is a re-up to your bid, not a new required matching dimension. Same with the new refill rules and bid-discard rules. Might be too “hungry” a game, with nobody ever having cards to answer bids; we’ll have to see.

Secondly: Going first meant you pick the card, but the other person almost always gets to take it. Which is weird, because basically you’re just giving them cards, so you’re basically playing the deck in turns. By each person selecting their own card from the market to bid on (and it can of course be a shared card, but doesn’t have to be), each deck strategy is rewarded somewhat, and you can “defend” cards you want when you see them, instead of having to luck out and be prime player when they become visible and just trying to deny the other guy cards, which is totally not the point anyway.

Thirdly: “Shuffling” four cards sucked. The “resources tableaux” removes randomness, but avoids you having to shuffle a very small hand. I worry that it makes “having a lot of resources” super valuable, but I do note that since you can mount a challenge cheaply, the poorer player can still drive the richer player’s expenditures up if they have good suited cards. Otherwise, they’re what we like to call “losing”. That’s a thing.

Fourthly: Because you selected aces and crowns so late, you had to “remember” everything that has already gone out. Feels like too much state to hold in brain. Moving that to stage II means you have some interesting cards with which to bid from stage I and have already taken a little shape, without it being so late that the game is already “set”, and the ensuing 4 phases can be done with knowledge of strategy.

Fifthly: Ending during Phase IV leaves too many cards behind to score. We should use Phase V. That’s easy enough 🙂 Because you no longer re-up on passing, what had been called Phase IV got split into IVa and IVb, and because I didn’t want to bother with that, I just shifted everything back to make room. Again, fine.

And finally, Knots: Scoring with the square of your single-pips was just too much. I dunno, I still like it, but it felt like double-dipping. So now you just score the count.

* I’ve considered maybe awarding a Pass Token when you pass: worth 1 victory point at end of game, to keep things sporting. I’ll try it both ways.



About lackhand

I was born in 1984 and am still playing games, programming computers, and living in New York City. View all posts by lackhand

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