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	<!-- date published or updated -->
	<time pubdate datetime="2011-08-14T17:50:00+01:00">
		<sup>5:50<abbr>pm</abbr> • 2011</sup>
		<abbr title="August">Aug</abbr> 14
	</time>
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		<li><a href="/blog/courtwars" rel="bookmark tag">blog</a></li>
		<li><a href="/gaming/courtwars">gaming</a></li>
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	<small>
		<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en_GB">c</a>
		share + remix
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<section>
<h1>Court Wars</h1>
<ol>
	<li><a href="#setup">Set Up</a></li>
	<li><a href="#play">Playing Instructions</a></li>
	<li><a href="#variations">Variations</a></li>
	<li><a href="#history">History</a></li>
</ol>
<p>
	<strong>Court Wars is a playing card game invented by myself (Kroc Camen) and Prenuntius</strong> over a couple of
	days whilst <a href="/holiday_2011">on holiday</a>. It has a surprising level of consistency and balance with
	plenty of strategy, and plays somewhat like a trading card game.
</p><p>
	The goal of the game is to defeat the <em>Court</em> (<em>King</em>, <em>Queen</em>, <em>Jack</em>) of the opponent,
	whilst protecting your own. It can be played by 2 to 4 players.
	<br /><br />
	<small>If you’ve played this game and would like to give feedback,<br />
	please contact <a href="mailto:kroc@camendesign.com">kroc@camendesign.com</a></small>
</p>


<h2 id="setup">Set Up</h2>
<ul>
	<li>
		<p>
			Start with one pack of standard playing cards (54 cards) <em>Jokers</em> included (optional but
			recommended)
		</p>
	</li><li>
		<p>
			Go through the pack and extract a <em>Jack</em>, <em>Queen</em> and <em>King</em> of a suit for
			each player<br />
			(<abbr title="that is,">i.e.</abbr> one suit per player)
		</p>
	</li><li>
		<p>
			Lay out the <em>Courts</em> like this:<br />
			<small>(The remaing deck has a space next to it for the discard pile)</small>
		</p>
		<aside><br />
			Card images used from <a href="http://www.jfitz.com/cards/" rel="external">jfitz.com/cards/</a>
		</aside>
		<figure>
			<img src="/blog/courtwars/2players.png" alt="" width="640" height="480" />
			<figcaption>2 Player Set Up</figcaption>
		</figure>
		<figure>
			<img src="/blog/courtwars/4players.png" alt="" width="640" height="480" />
			<figcaption>4 Player Set Up</figcaption>
		</figure>
		<p>
			Each of your <em>Court</em> cards have a defence of 10, but an attack of 0.
		</p><p>
			They cannot fight themselves so you must employ <em>Guards</em> to add attack as well as extra
			defence; more on this later
		</p>
	</li><li>
		<p>Shuffle the remaining deck well</p>
	</li>
</ul>

<hr />

<p>
	<strong>Take turns to draw a card and then either play the card or discard it</strong>, doing this three times each.
	That is:—
</p>
<ul>
	<li>
		<p>
			Discard any <em>Ace</em>, <em>Jack</em>, <em>Queen</em>, <em>King</em> or <em>Joker</em> and draw
			again. These cannot be played yet and don’t count towards your allotted 3 cards
		</p>
	</li><li>
		<p>
			A <em>Guard</em> (<em>2</em>, <em>3</em>, <em>4</em>, <em>5</em>, <em>6</em>, <em>7</em>,
			<em>8</em>, <em>9</em> and <em>10</em>) can be placed on one of your <em>Court</em> cards, or any
			existing <em>Guard</em> as long as the value is lower than the exisiting <em>Guard</em> (though
			not strictly sequential).
		</p>
		<figure>
			<img src="/blog/courtwars/guards.png" alt="" width="640" height="480" />
			<figcaption><em>Guards</em> are stacked on your <em>Court</em> cards to add attack and defence.
				  <em>Guards</em> can only be stacked in decreasing value</figcaption>
		</figure>
		<p>
			<em>Guards</em> act as both attack and defence. In the example of <em>King</em>+<em>9</em>, this
			stack has a total of 19 defence and 9 attack (remember that <em>Court</em> cards have no attack,
			but a defence of 10).
		</p><p>
			It is easiest to remember that if you count up the total value of the <em>Guards</em> on a
			<em>Court</em> card, the defence will always be 10 more.
		</p><p>
			You may choose to discard the drawn <em>Guard</em> for strategic reasons; you may not wish to
			severely cap the maximum attack you can build up (for example, a <em>Guard</em> of <em>4</em> on a
			<em>Court</em> card can only gain a maximum of 9  attack—stacking cards <em>4</em>, <em>3</em>
			&amp; <em>2</em>—less than even the basic defence of a <em>Court</em> card with no
			<em>Guards</em>!)
		</p>
	</li>
</ul>


<h2 id="play">Playing Instructions</h2>
<p>
	Decide who goes first using any favourite method such as tossing a coin, rolling a dice, paper-scissors-stone or
	whoever’s birthday is nearest. If playing multiple rounds, for two players the player who lost should go first,
	but with 3 or 4 players who goes first should go clockwise each game.
	<br /><br />
	On a player’s turn they can choose to do one of two things:
</p>
<dl>
	<dt id="defend">1. Defend</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			Take a card from the pile. (<em>Note:</em> Any time the pile runs out of cards, just flip the
			discard pile. You should therefore discard cards <strong>face up</strong>)
		</p>
		<ul>
			<li>
				<p>
					A <em>Court</em> card (<em>J</em>, <em>Q</em>, <em>K</em>) causes you to miss
					your turn, put the card on the discard pile and play moves to the next player
				</p>
			</li><li>
				<p>
					If it is a <em>Guard</em> (<em>2</em>, <em>3</em>, <em>4</em>, <em>5</em>,
					<em>6</em>, <em>7</em>, <em>8</em>, <em>9</em> or <em>10</em>) then you can
					choose to either:
				</p>
				<ul>
					<li>
						<p>
							Play the <em>Guard</em> by placing it on top of one of your
							<em>Court</em> cards or an existing <em>Guard</em>, as long as
							the value is lower than the exisiting <em>Guard</em> (though
							not strictly sequential)
						</p>
					</li><li>
						<p>Discard the card for strategic reasons</p>
					</li>
				</ul>
				<p>
					Once either of these actions are taken play moves to the next player
				</p>
			</li><li>
				<p>
					A <em>Joker</em> can impersonate a <em>Court</em> card. Therefore if one or more
					of your <em>Court</em> cards has been defeated, a <em>Joker</em> can be placed
					on the back of the <em>Court</em> card and acts the same as a regular
					<em>Court</em> card. If you have no defeated <em>Court</em> cards the
					<em>Joker</em> must be discarded. In either instance, play moves to the next
					player
				</p>
				<figure>
					<img src="/blog/courtwars/joker.png" alt="" width="600" height="450" />
					<figcaption>A <em>Joker</em> is played on the back of a defeated <em>Court</em> card. Once defeated, the Joker is discarded</figcaption>
				</figure>
			</li><li>
				<p>
					An <em>Ace</em> allows you to both attack and defend (draw a card). Discard the
					<em>Ace</em> card first and then decide if you want to
					<a href="#attack">attack</a> (if possible). Once you have done your attack (or
					skipped it), <a href="#defend">draw a card</a>.
				</p>
			</li>
		</ul>
	</dd>
	<dt id="attack">2. Attack</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			To attack, you must discard some, or all (your choice), of the <em>Guards</em> attached to one of
			your <em>Court</em> cards that add up to a total value equal to or greater than the total value of
			one or more of your opponent’s <em>Guards</em> (if any) stacked on a <em>Court</em> card, up to
			and including the <em>Court</em> card—thus defeating it.
		</p><p>
			<em>Note:</em> With 3 or 4 players, there is no order to who may attack who. You may choose to
			attack any opponent you please.
		</p><p>
			Whenever a <em>Court</em> card is defeated, flip it over rather than discarding it. This avoids
			having to pull them back out of the deck when playing multiple rounds.
		</p><p>
			Take this scenario as an example of attacking:
		</p>
		<figure>
			<img src="/blog/courtwars/scenario.png" alt="" width="600" height="450" />
			<figcaption>An example play scenario with two players protected with multiple guards</figcaption>
		</figure>
		<p>
			Player 1 (top) has:
		</p>
		<ul>
			<li><em>King</em>: 12 attack + 22 defence</li>
			<li><em>Queen</em>: 0 attack + 10 defence</li>
			<li><em>Jack</em>: 7 attack + 17 defence</li>
		</ul>
		<p>
			Player 2 (bottom) has:
		</p>
		<ul>
			<li><em>King</em>: 9 attack + 19 defence</li>
			<li><em>Queen</em>: 12 attack + 22 defence</li>
			<li><em>Jack</em>: 9 attack + 19 defence</li>
		</ul>
		<p>
			Let us imagine that it is player 2’s turn. They have a few options open to them:
		</p>
		<ol>
			<li>
				<p>
					Their <em>Queen</em> is their only <em>Court</em> card with a total attack over
					10 (<em>7</em> + <em>5</em> = 12), thus player 2 could choose to defeat player
					1’s <em>Queen</em> which has no additional defence and thus a basic defence of
					just 10.
				</p>
				<figure>
					<img src="/blog/courtwars/attack1.png" alt="" width="600" height="450" />
					<figcaption>Player 2 has spent their <em>7</em> &amp; <em>5</em> <em>Guards</em> (12 attack) to defeat player 1’s <em>Queen</em>
						  (flipped over)</figcaption>
				</figure>
				<p>
					By doing this however it would leave their <em>Queen</em> with no more
					<em>Guards</em> and Player 1 could choose to defeat it with their <em>King</em>
					(12 attack)
				</p>
			</li><li>
				<p>
					To avoid mutual destruction, player 2 could opt to first remove some
					<em>Guards</em> from the opponent, without actually defeating one of their
					<em>Court</em> cards.
				</p>
				<figure>
					<img src="/blog/courtwars/scenario.png" alt="" width="600" height="450" />
					<figcaption>The example play scenario again</figcaption>
				</figure>
				<p>
					Player 2 could spend their <em>Queen’s</em> <em>5</em> <em>Guard</em>, or the
					<em>Jack’s</em> <em>3</em> &amp; <em>2</em> <em>Guards</em> (5) to remove the
					<em>4</em> on the opponent’s <em>King</em>—lowering player 1’s
					<em>King</em> to just 8 attack, or spend their <em>Queen’s</em> <em>7</em>
					&amp; <em>5</em> <em>Guards</em> (12) to remove the opponent’s <em>8</em>
					&amp; <em>4</em> <em>Guards</em> (12), which would look like this:
				</p>
				<figure>
					<img src="/blog/courtwars/attack2.png" alt="" width="600" height="450" />
					<figcaption>Player 2 has spent their <em>7</em> &amp; <em>5</em> <em>Guards</em> to remove player 1’s <em>8</em> &amp; <em>4</em> <em>Guards</em> on
						  their <em>King</em></figcaption>
				</figure>
				<p>
					Now player 1 is left with very little offence.
				</p>
			</li>
		</ol>
		<p>
			You may only spend Guards from one <em>Court</em> card, and only in increasing value. That is, you
			cannot use the value of a <em>Guard</em> in the middle or top of a stack, you must count upwards
			from the last one.
		</p><p>
			When attacking, first discard your chosen <em>Guards</em> (all at once rather than one by one),
			then discard the opponent’s <em>Guards</em>, and if the <em>Court</em> card was defeated too,
			flip it over. If the opponent is using a <em>Joker</em>, discard it once defeated
		</p>
	</dd>
</dl>
<p>
	After an attack is complete, play moves to the next player.
</p>


<h2 id="variations">Variations</h2>
<p>
	Here are some suggested rule variations:
</p>
<dl>
	<dt>Allow same-value <em>Guards</em> to be stacked</dt>
	<dd>
		Normally you can only stack <em>Guards</em> that are lower in value than each other. One variation to play
		is to allow equal value <em>Guards</em> to be stacked (<abbr title="for example">e.g.</abbr>
		<em>8</em>+<em>8</em>+<em>4</em>). There will be less discards, but it will also allow players to amass
		massive attack / defence values, increasing the challenge.
	</dd>
</dl>


<h2 id="history">History</h2>
<p>
	I had the idea for this game in 1999, as a way to mimic trading card games like Pokémon
	<dfn title="Trading Card Game">TCG</dfn> with a regular pack of cards. The original principle was that a card could
	be chosen to be either an attack card / monster, or as energy to power an existing attack card / monster. I hadn’t
	tested the idea fully to work out the mathematics of play, however the concept did stay in the back of my mind until
	the last couple of days on <a href="/holiday_2011">a holiday</a> with a friend where we were playing a lot of
	<a href="http://www.pagat.com/eights/crazy8s.html" rel="external">British Blackjack</a> (my variation thereof that
	I’ve been refining for the last 20 years) and I explained that I had an idea for a new card game that I had been
	working on. Over the next couple of evenings, and some beer, we refined the concepts into a playable game.
</p><p>
	The birthplace of Court Wars is <a href="http://www.thesquareandcompass.co.uk/" rel="external">The Square and
	Compass</a> pub in Matlock, Derbyshire on Saturday the 6<sup>th</sup> August 2011, should you wish to pilgramage
	there <samp>:P</samp>
</p><p>
	Initially we gave court cards a high value of 20, but found that it was becoming near impossible to defeat a court
	card and went around in circles just adding and removing guards. When we reduced this to 10, things played much
	better. We were also using a hand, where cards the player did not want to play could be kept, but it seemed arbitary
	and allowed a player to keep on to high value cards for a long time, making it a little fruitless to knocking out
	their guards. Once we had gotten rid of the hand things played much quicker, however we noticed at the beginning of
	the game that without any defence to start with we each lost a court card or two very quickly, so added in drawing
	three cards at the start.
</p><p>
	Where as the Joker was decided to mimic a court card early on, before that we had a rule that any court card you
	picked up could replace a missing court card as long as it was the same type (King, Queen, Jack). Along with the
	other rule changes happening we found that we could never outright win a game as the pile cycled quickly and would
	keep drawing court cards.
</p><p>
	The Ace rule came last (though we knew that the Ace card would have to be used as a special as it was mostly
	worthless otherwise) but it took some debate to decide exactly what it should do. It wasn’t as simple as
	“another turn” because of the attack / defend mechanic (early on you started every turn by taking a card and
	then attacking afterwards). By simplifying turns into attack <em>or</em> defend, the Ace fitted better. We ended up
	shedding a great deal from the design to hone it down to something far simpler and more consistent, and as a result
	the balance sort of worked itself out. We were surprised by how well it played and we knew immediately when we had a
	working game, rather than just messing around with a set of cards.
</p><p>
	Thanks goes to Prenuntius for developing the game and John Drinkwater for play testing and feedback on these
	instructions.
</p>
</section>
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