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Original Games 3: Territorial Warfare

Players battle for dominance of 4 key combat territories: High, Low, Straight and Draw.

Game type: Card placement, draw and burn

Game difficulty: **

Players: 2-6 Best: 3-4

Set up: Pen and paper for scoring (or other). Need some form of card markers if playing with over 3 players (eg. Different colour poker chips) Requires 2 decks if playing with over 4 players. (Optional: Use string or similar to divide territories)


The deck is shuffled and each player is dealt 7 cards into their hand. The rest of the cards are placed beside the draw territory. Numbered cards represent the value they depict (eg. 7 = 7, A = 1), royals are special cards (see below).

Rounds are split into two phases: the placement phase and the scoring phase.

Placement phase:

There are 4 territories, the high territory, the low territory, the straight territory, and the draw territory. Every round players simultaneously place cards face down on territories of their choosing.

Players place their cards in different orientation's so it's clear who they belong to. Eg.

Play as many or as few cards from your hand as you want, baring in mind if you run out of cards, you are effectively out of the game!

There are 2 ways to play territorial warfare:

Version A: Players can place a maximum of 1 card on each territory. Therefore you can play up to 4 cards per round.

Version B: The only limit on cards you can play is how many you have in your hand. This version is more chaotic.

A round ends when everyone agrees they are finished with their placement. Alternatively, set a timer for how long everyone has to place cards (eg. 30 seconds). Once the card placement phase is complete, cards are turned over one territory at a time and scored:

Scoring phase:

Players score their cards based on the rules of a territory (I'd recommend using tallies to score).

High territory: The highest value on this territory is burned, then the rest of the cards score in order of ranked value. Exception: If there is only one value on this territory, it doesn’t burn.

Example: If there are 4 cards on the high territory: 10, 7, 5 and 2:

10 burns, as it is the highest card. Then the 3 remaining cards score 3,2,1 in order of value: i.e 7 scores 3 points, 5 scores 2 points, 2 scores 1 points.

Low territory: Low territory works the opposite of the high territory. The lowest card is burned, then the remaining cards score in reverse order of ranked value. Exception also applies.

Example: If there are 4 cards on the territory: 2, 4, 4, 5:

2 is the lowest card so it burns, leaving 3 remaining cards to score. As the two 4s are the lowest value, both cards score 3 points, while the 5 only scores 1 point (as it is 3rd of 3).

Straight territory: Every card that is part of a “straight” (i.e has a card that is either 1 up or 1 down from them in value), scores 1 point.

If multiples of the same value of card are played, these cards burn.

Example: imagine 2, 4,5,6,7,7, 8,9 are on the straight territory. The two 7's burn as no duplicate cards are allowed in the straight territory. 4,5,6 and 8,9 are all part of straights, so these cards score 1 point each.

Draw Territory: For every card a player places here, they draw 3 cards into their hand. After cards are drawn, all cards on this territory are burned.

Exception: When there are less cards in the draw pile than the number of players x3, every player in the draw territory draws one card at a time (in order of who placed their card first - who placed their card last), until every player has drawn 3, OR there are no cards left.

Royal cards:

Royal cards don't score (though they can be used to draw) but have special abilities instead.

All Royal cards are burned once scoring is done.

Jack: All cards on the same territory as a Jack are burned instantly and therefore that territory does not score that round (Jack can also prevent other players from drawing, but the Jack is allowed to draw)

Queen: When the cards are first revealed (before burning and scoring), the player who placed the queen can opt to swap the queen for a card of their choosing in their hand.

King: The king protects every card on a territory from burning (whether by territory rule or a Jack play).

Game end:

When there are no cards left in the draw pile, one subsequent round is played, then the game ends. Whoever has scored the most points, wins!

Example round

1) Placement phase. (3 player game, Version B. player 1 = vertical, player 2 = horizontal, player 3 = sideways)

2) Card reveal and burning (Q get to swap first, then relevant cards are burned)

3) Scoring phase (score of each player resolved)

After this round: player 1 scored 4 points, player 2 scored 1 point, player 3 scored 2 points

Simultaneous strategy:

What makes this game fun is that you don't have to wait your turn, everyone plays at once. You have to predict what your opponents are playing in real-time, and they can react to where you place your cards. This creates a real tension during the placement phase and makes the eventual reveal of the cards more exciting.

Also, another interesting mechanic is if a card doesn't burn by the end of a round, it stays on that territory. This means that one card could score for a player the entire game. Also, as the rounds progress, cards can build up on a territory and make it easier to earn points there.

This allows for strategies such as placing a card on the high or low territories you know will burn to protect a high scoring card you already have on that territory.

Finally, the royals are gamechangers, as a successful J burn play can ruin an opponents chances of winning, Q's can be used to guarantee you maximize your individual score in a territory, while K's can be used to thwart the plans of a J or boost your score even further.

From my experience territorial warfare playtime is roughly 3-4 minutes per player. So a 3 player game is usually 10 minutes, while 6 players is around 20.

Give both versions a try, see which one suits you best. Have fun with it, and tell me if you work out any broken strategies, or if you come up with any cool alternate variants of your own!


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