I recently had a spontaneous idea for a card game while reading a game design book (Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, very good, highly recommended). After some playtesting, experimentation, and tweaking of the rules, I decided to write up the rules. Regrettably, most of the rule tweaks seemed to fail at improving the gameplay experience, so what I ended up with feels only mildly intriguing, not excellent. But perhaps someone else might be inspired and find a clever way to improve it.
Revolutionary War is a game is for two players and uses a standard 52-card deck. The objective is to capture the most number of cards by the time the deck and trump stack are exhausted. Cards can be captured by playing the strongest card during a given round; all cards played during that round are then captured by the player who played the strongest card.
To begin, deal five cards to each player, and then three cards in a stack face up between the two players. This stack of three cards is the trump stack. Whichever card is on top of this stack is the trump for the current round, and the cards below it will become trumps on future hands. If at least two of the cards are black (spades or clubs), then the dealer goes first. Otherwise (at least two cards are red, hearts or diamonds), the non-dealing player goes first. The remaining cards are kept face down as the draw deck.
To start a round, the current player can play any card from their hand, and then draw another card from the deck into their hand. Play then proceeds to the other player, who must either play a stronger card (see below) and then likewise draw a card from the deck into their hand, or concede the round. This play proceeds back and forth between the two players until one player concedes the round. The other player then collects all cards played that round, as well as the active trump card, and adds them to their personal score pile. A new trump card is drawn from the deck and added to the bottom of the trump stack. Then the next round begins with the new trump card that is now on the top of the trump stack, and the player that captured the prior round goes first on this next round. The player who starts off a round also has the option to concede the round immediately, allowing their opponent to capture the trump card and begin the next round.
To determine if a card is stronger than the card last played, the general rule is that it must have an equal or higher numeric value (Ace = 1, 2-10, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13) than the card last played. (Suit is unimportant.) However, any card that is less than or equal to the active trump is automatically stronger than any card that is greater than the active trump.
For the simple case, presume the active trump is a King. If the last card played was a 9, then another 9, or a 10, Jack, Queen, or King would all be considered stronger, as they are all equal to or greater than the last played card.
However, consider if the active trump is a 3, and the last played card is was a Queen. Another Queen or a King would be stronger due to the first rule. But so would an Ace, 2, or 3, since the card last played was greater than the trump, while those three cards are all less than or equal to the trump.
In effect, the strength of cards are weakest just one above the active trump, proceed upward toward King, wrap around with the Ace, and then proceed to get stronger all the way up to and including the active trump.
If a King is the trump, then the full ordering of cards from weakest to strongest is: A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K. But if a 3 is trump, then the ordering is 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A 2 3.
Rounds continue until the draw deck is exhausted, and either all cards held in the players’ hands are also exhausted, or there are no more trump cards in the trump stack. In any case where a card would normally be drawn from the deck but there are no more cards left, ignore the draw and otherwise proceed normally. If all trump cards in the trump stack are exhausted but one or both players still have cards in their hands, then they can add their held cards to their own score pile. If both players run out of cards but the trump stack is not empty, those cards do not go to either player’s score pile.
At this point, each player counts the cards in their score pile. The player with the most cards wins. In case of a tie, the player that captured the last round is the winner.
Alternatively, a target score can be chosen at the beginning of play (100, for example), and after each game, the players add their scores for that game to their total score. At the end of each game, if only one player has reached or exceeded the target score, that player wins. If both have done so, the player with the larger score wins. In case of a tie, again, the player that captured the last round wins.