Royal LinesA card game about governing nations for 2 - 4 players.
- 2013 - 2017
- Updated on
- 21 Jan 2017
- Version history
- Mindlines / Royal lines(2014, 2017)
- Court game(2013)
- Royal Lines / Limbo / Circle of Power
BASIC INFO & CONCEPTS
3 players. (See the end for 2- and 4-player variations.)
A normal deck of 52 playing cards 1 joker. (2 jokers with 4 players.)
Simple bookkeeping equipment.
At the start of each round each player gets 1 ruler card (an ace) and 12 hand cards (cards 2 - 10) from the bidding deck.
- The hand cards are played one by one in 12 trading sessions, where each player plays one card face up on the table in clockwise order.
- The highest bidder then collects one of the royal candidates (face cards & jokers) face up into his/her royal line (above the ace).
After the 12 trades, the players’ royal lines are evaluated and each player gets (1 - 8) royal points according to their form of government.
- The first player to get at least 15 royal points, wins the game.
DECK & STARTUP
The deck is divided into three parts:
- BIDDING DECK (36 cards): Cards 2 - 10.
- The deck is dealt equally among the players - each gets 12 hand cards.
- RULER DECK (4 cards - 1 card): The four aces (A).
- Each player is dealt one ace face down. Each player should check his/her ace and not show it to others.
- The leftover ace is then shuffled into the royal deck.
- ROYAL DECK (13 cards + 1 card): Face cards (J, Q, K), the joker and the leftover ace (A).
- First one card is drawn from the deck and put face up and sideways under the deck. This is the neglected royal of the round.
- Then two more cards are drawn and put face up next to the deck, side by side. These are the first royal candidates.
Usually one player handles the bidding deck, and another player the ruler and the royal decks. The third player then starts the round.
The players must always play the same suit with one of the royal candidates, if they have such cards.
- Otherwise the player can play any card, but will not be participating in the bidding.
By playing the same suit with a royal candidate, the player is placing a bid for that candidate.
- The player who played the highest number (of an acceptable suit) wins the bid. In an even situation, the latter wins.
The winner of the bid collects the royal candidate that he/she bid for face up onto his/her royal line.
- If both candidates are the same suit, the player may choose which one to take.
The player then updates the candidate line before starting the next bidding:
- If the card further away from the deck (the senior candidate) was chosen, the other card (the junior candidate) is first moved in its place.
- A new card is then drawn from the royal deck and put next to it - as the new junior candidate.
- If neither candidate was picked, the senior card goes to the graveyard (face down behind the deck) before updating the candidate line.
WANDERING RULER - Coup d’état
When the wandering ruler (the leftover ace) appears on the candidate line, it’s bid for like any other royal candidate.
- However, when it’s collected, it replaces the player’s original ruler (the ace), which is in turn moved to the graveyard (and kept face down).
- As everyone has already seen the new ace, it’s kept face up.
JOKER - Stubborn royal helper
When the joker is on the candidate line, it’s always the same colour but different suit than the neighbour candidate.
- So if the other candidate is spades (♤), the joker is clubs (♧) - if it’s diamonds (♦), the joker is hearts (♥), and vice versa.
The joker lies asleep until all the 12 trades have been played, after which it tries to escape by forming a 3-line of corruption - see below.
- Otherwise the player may choose freely which suit and number it represents - as long as the same card doesn’t already exist in the royal line.
3-LINE OF CORRUPTION
Whenever the player gets a 3-line of corruption - 3 cards of the same number or the same suit - the cards forming it are immediately banished from the royal line (put face down to the graveyard).
- In the special case of 2 crossing 3-lines being formed at the same time (by one card), the player must choose which one to banish.
- The joker cannot be part of a 3-line until the round ends. When it ends, it must be used to form a 3-line, if possible.
SCORING & BETWEEN ROUNDS
After the 12 trading sessions and the panicking of the joker, the round ends: The players reveal their aces and their royal lines are evaluated.
The royal line is in one of the four modes below and gets points according to the mode:
- DICTATORSHIP:No royal cards (lonely ruler)5p.
- OLIGARCHY:Only royals of the emperor’s suit3p. per card (max. 6p.)
- REVOLUTION:Only royals of the other colour2p. per card (max. 8p.)
- MONARCHY:Otherwise1p. per card of the ruler’s colour (max. 4p.)
Each player’s score is added to the player’s cumulative score. The first player to get 15 points wins the game.
BEFORE THE NEXT ROUND
After the last bidding, there should be one royal candidate left face up on the table.
- This card becomes the neglected royal of the next round. (Otherwise the royal deck is shuffled like in the first round.)
One of the players is replaced by a dummy player:
- The dummy has a pile of hand cards face down and next to it 1 card face up.
- It always plays the face up card if its suit is allowed. A new face up card is drawn at the start of the next bidding.
- Otherwise, the dummy plays the topmost card of the pile - allowed or not.
The dummy’s choices:
- The dummy always picks the senior candidate if it has to choose.
- Similarly, it also chooses to banish the 3-line with the same numbered cards.
- After the round, the joker is played according to the dummy’s best interest.
The 4-player-game has the following changes:
- All jacks (J) are removed from the royal deck. (The size of the royal deck is thus 10 cards.)
- There are 2 jokers in the game:
- If both jokers are candidates at the same time, any suit is acceptable.
- If both jokers end up in the same royal line, they cancel each other out (= 0 jokers).
- There is no wandering ace as all the 4 aces are dealt in the beginning.
- There is no neglected royal in the game.
- Each player gets only 9 hand cards - and so there are only 9 trading sessions as well.
- In addition, there is an optional black market trade of hand cards in the start of each round:
- Each player gives one card face down to the player on the left and takes a new one from the right.
- If not wanting to participate, the card is simply passed over (from right to left).
Strategical note: The 4-player-game is much faster than the normal game, and it’s harder to change the strategy during the round.
Your hand cards are the most crucial thing when orientating yourself in the game.
- If you have only high cards of one particular suit, you are very likely to get royal cards of that suit.
- If you have many cards of one particular suit but with some low cards, you might be able to avoid the suit. Especially if that suit comes out of the royal deck early.
- If you have only a few cards of one (or two) suits, it might be useful to get rid of them completely - to simplify things and give you more freedom.
- At the end of the round, even very low bids (of number 2 or 3) might go through easily.
- Sometimes a royal candidate might get stuck as an unwanted senior - that no one bids for but who still just hangs around.
To orientate yourself in the beginning of the round, check the following four things:
- Neglected royal (under the royal deck)
- First royal candidates (next to the royal deck)
- Your emperor card (face down ace)
- And your bidding cards (hand cards)
Then sketch a few likely outcomes in your mind based on the scoring table.
- Keep in mind that the wandering ace might end up in your royal line (with 2/3 probability of being the other colour than your original ace).
- And also that you might or might not get the joker - having high cards of many suits makes catching it easier.
It’s useful to think of the royal deck as a 4 x 4 table: rows being the 4 numbers (J, Q, K, A) and columns the 4 suits (♤, ♧, ♥, ♦).
- DICTATORSHIP: Having an empty table (except for the ace).
- OLIGARCHY: Having only cards of the same column as your ace (3p.).
- REVOLUTION: Having only cards of the left or right side of the table (2p. each), when your ace is on the other side.
- MONARCHY: Having cards anywhere on the table. All the cards on the ace’s side (left / right) of the table give you points (1p. each).
- The neglected royal would be a slot on the table that you can’t have.
- Similarly the other aces on the ace row are slots you can’t have, except for the wandering ace.
Visualizing the game of the royals in this way, it’s also easier to see the approaching 3-lines and how to prevent or get them.
FOR IDEAS, HELP WITH DEVELOPMENT & PLAYING
Tomi Laine, Tuuli Vahtero, Akseli Leinonen, Matias Saresvuo, Emmi Viitala, Piia Tamminen, Ville Viitala and Jorma Saurén.