Free Game: Land Politics

This is busy week for me; launching a new website, getting some new materials printed, and lots of writing to do. In the spirit of keeping my posts mostly regular, here comes a new card game for you all; I call it Land Politics!


Land Politics
– for 2 or 4 players
This is a quick, easy to play game about manipulation and domination; think of it as a territorial strategy game, but with playing cards. Once you’ve got it down, games will go quick, so I suggest playing it in rounds.

Setup
You’ll just need a single normal deck of playing cards for this one.

First, pick a dealer. The dealer shuffles the deck and places 9 cards face down in a 3 x 3 grid, called the Field, in between the players. Then the dealer deals out all remaining cards evenly to each of the players.


Bidding for sides
Before the game begins, players must determine which side they’ll be playing — in 2 players, you play colors, and in 4 players, you play suits. To choose a side, each player must pick a card from their hand and play it down. If they play the highest card of that color/suit, they get to play that side.

When bidding with 2 players, should there be a tie for a color, each player chooses a new card.

When bidding with 4 players, should anyone bid on a suit alone, they are automatically awarded that suit. If multiple players bid for the same suit, the highest card played is awarded that suit, and the remaining players must bid again, until each suit has an owner. If the remaining players have no cards to bid on remaining available suits, then they may play a high card; the player with the highest card chooses their suit. The last player automatically receives the last remaining suit.

Once bidding is finished and each player has a side, the dealer turns each of the cards in the Field face up.


Playing the Game

The game starts with the player left of the Dealer, and continues left. On your turn, select a card from your hand to play to a place on the Field. To play a card to the field, it must match suit or number to at least two cards on either side of it. If the play is legal, place the card on top of the card in that space on the field.

If there are no possible plays for any cards in your hand, you may try and trade it to another player for a different card.

Once all the cards have been played to the field, the game ends.


Scoring and Winning

Score is determined by the top cards on the field. Cards are worth their face value in points, face cards are worth 10. Out of the 9 cards on top of field, whichever color/suit has the most points is the winner. In case of ties, whoever has the most cards on top wins. (Failing that; it’s just a tie!)


Addendum: Playing by Rounds

Once you’ve got the hang of Land Politics, you can make it a little more interesting by playing by rounds. To do this, you’ll need poker chips or some similar tokens with which to play.

At the start of each round, every player pitches in an ante. Players bet again once the initial hands are dealt, then again once sides have been determined. If a player is unwilling to bet during either of those times, they may choose to fold instead and sit the round out. The winner of each round takes the pot; in the case of a tie, the pot is split between the winning players — if it cannot be split evenly, the remainer stays in the pot.
Enjoy!

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