|Deck:||Standard 52 card deck, plus jokers|
|Players:||2 or more players (more than 4 players will probably require an additional deck of cards)|
|Time:||One hand takes approximately 5 minutes; one game takes approximately 30 minutes|
|Overview:||Players pick a suit, and then try to score as much as possible by getting cards down on the table. The player's chosen suit scores double, but spades score negatively.|
Life is a simple card game in which players try to be the first to score 100 points over a number of different hands. On each turn, they turn over the top card of the deck and lay some or all cards from their hand that match the suit of the card turned over. If they turn over a spade (a bad card), they must lay all their spades. By laying more than 10 points of cards, players get to turn over cards (in which case they are guaranteed to score for those cards) and to steal from other players.
Stealing cards is an important aspect of the game. If you steal from someone, you run the risk of getting a spade - unless you until after they have turned over a spade, in which case you know you are safe. Sometimes you won't want to steal from a player because you don't want them to go out of cards and end the hand.
Although there is very little strategy to Life, it can be a fun diversion, and many players become hooked on the game despite its simplicity. There can be great satisfaction in playing an ace of your own suit, thus scoring for everybody's cards of that suit, and enormous relief when someone turns over the ace of spades, sucking up all the bad cards and putting back in the deck for a while. The option to steal can also create some great grudge matches - especially when you pick on someone who's down by stealing cards from a player after they have had to turn over more than 10 points of spades.
Rules of Life
- 1. Choose Suits
- Prior to each hand, each player chooses a suit for which they will play for in the next hand. They may choose hearts, diamonds or clubs, but not spades. Spades are the 'bad suit' that everyone will be trying to get rid of.
- 2. Deal seven cards to each player
- The first dealer is the player who suggested playing Life; the deal passes to the left after each hand.
- 3. Turns
- The first player is left of the dealer. Play order continues to the left after each player's turn.
Each player starts their turn turn by turning over the top card of the deck.
- If it is a heart, diamond or club, the player may play some or all of their cards of that suit in front of them.
If the face value of the cards of that suit face up in front of the player totals 10 or more (counting all royalties and aces as 10), turn them face down and then the player has an option to steal one card random card from any player they choose.
- If it is a spade, the player must play all their spades in front of them.
If the face value of the spade cards face up in front of the player totals 10 or more (counting all royalties and aces as 10), turn them face down and every player has an option steal one random card from the unfortunate player (starting with the player to their left).
- 4. Picking up
- If a player doesn't play any cards on their turn (either because they chose not to, or because they turned over a spade and had no spades), they pick up a card.
- 5. Ending a hand
- Each hand ends when any player has no cards left in their hand (either because they have played all their cards, or because their last card was stolen from them).
Every player scores one point for the value of each card in front of them (face up or face down), and 10 for royalties or aces.
The suit they chose before the hand began scores double.
Any spades are subtracted from the player's score.
Cards remaining in a players hand (and not on the table) do not score.
The next hand is dealt by the player to the left of the last player to redeal (either at the start of the hand, or because of a joker)
First player to 100 points wins (or to another target, agreed before the game begins).
- 5. Aces
- Whenever an ace becomes turned face up (either on the deck at the start of a player's turn, or played in front of them) all cards of that suit from the hands of all the players are played onto that ace.
If a player turns over an ace, this means all the cards of that suit are discarded onto the face up cards, including any face up cards of that suit.
If a player plays an ace in front of them, this means they get to steal all the cards of that suit from the other players, and since this is guaranteed to be worth 10 or more points (since aces are worth 10), they will get to turn all the cards face down, and steal a random card from another player. All face up cards of the appropriate suit are also played onto the ace.
- 6. Jokers
- Players may play a joker on their turn instead of turning over a card as usual.
Whenever a joker is played, the joker is removed from play and the player in question shuffles the deck, the discards and all the face up cards and then deals a new hand of seven cards to each player.
If there are not enough cards to deal seven to each player, the hand ends.
A joker may also be played by having been turned at the start of a player's turn (in which case, that player redeals, and their turn ends).
- 7. Face up cards
- Face up cards in front of a player count for the players score only if they remain until the end of the game.
Whenever a joker is played, all face up cards are shuffled back into the deck.
Whenever a player tries to steal from a player with face up cards, they must steal one of the face up cards (their choice) instead of stealing from their hand. No player may steal directly from another player's hand while that player has face up cards.
- 1. Blind Steal
- Some players have a tendency to be very reluctant to let a player steal a card from them that they really want (an ace or a joker, say). It's not unknown for a player to start to steal a card, only to have the player being stolen from jank their hand away and ask the player to pick another. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended that players hold their cards face down when players are stealing from their hand.
- 2. Chose Spades
- In this optional variant, players may choose spades as their suit. In this case, the suit only counts half its face value, so a royalty is worth -5 and not -10. This option tends to appeal to players with a depressive bent.
- 3. Fortune
- Players may use Life as a spurious fortune telling game. The number of points in hearts represent romantic relationships, diamonds represent money, clubs friendship and spades just plain bad luck. International Hobo is not responsible for the accuracy of such fortunes.
Life created by Chris Bateman and Sam Ineson; this document is copyright 2000 International Hobo Ltd.