Houses of Thoth

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Houses of Thoth
Designed by Matthew Rogers
Finish of a two-player hand
Erecting Pyramids on Tarot cards, and vice versa
:Players Players: 2 - 5
:Time Length: Long?
:Complexity Complexity: High
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: 5
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 5
Five-color sets: 5
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Tarot deck
Setup time: 2 minutes
Playing time: 20 minutes
0.333 Hr
- 60 minutes
1 Hr
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Medium
Game mechanics: accumulation, construction
Theme: mystical
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987


Under development


This game is currently under development, in the Playtesting stage. Feedback is strongly encouraged! Feel free to give comments on game design or structure on the talk page.

This game for Looney Pyramids and Tarot cards involves constructing pyramid-and-card “houses” as in Aquarius Rising or Builders of R'lyeh. The competition mechanics are inspired by the accumulation/hazard dynamics of the card game Mille Bornes by Edmond Dujardin (as well as its younger cousin Grass).

Materials and Setup

Any standard 78-card Tarot deck should work for this game. There must be five full fifteen-pyramid monochrome stashes, which will correspond to the Elements. A set of five Rainbow or Xeno stashes will furnish a fitting supply, and the following correspondences are recommended:

Elemental Attributions
Rainbow Color (Xeno Color) Element Suit Value
Black (White) Spirit Trumps Ace
Red (Orange) Fire Wands King
Blue (Cyan) Water Cups Queen
Yellow (Clear) Air Swords Prince
Green (Purple) Earth Disks Princess

These rules will assume the use of Rainbow pyramids with the correspondences given here.

Shuffle the deck and deal 5 cards face-down to each player. Players may look at their hands immediately. Set the deck face-down between the players with room for a discard pile. Place the pyramids in a bank where they are accessible to all players.

Turn Play

The player to the left of the dealer starts. (Alternatively, use the auction and card redistribution method of Gnostica to determine priority for the first hand.) Play proceeds clockwise.

On each player turn, the player will draw one card, and then must play or discard a single card.

When the deck is exhausted, shuffle the discard pile and make it the new deck.

House Construction

During the course of a hand, each player will attempt to build a house. A house begins with a card face-up on the table, called the ‘’Foundation’’. On this Foundation will go four pyramids of the same size, to support a “Story.” The Story can itself support a set of four pyramids, on which another Story can be placed. The process continues until a “Roof” completes the house.

Foundations

To play a Foundation (and begin the house), play EITHER an Ace of any suit OR one of the following trumps: the Fool, the Magician, the Priestess, the Empress, the Wheel, the Tower, the Sun, Judgment, or the World. Place the Foundation face-up on the table.

Pyramids placed on an Ace must match the element of that Ace’s suit. For trump Foundations, the requirements are as follows:

  • The Fool takes air pyramids.
  • The Hanged Man takes water.
  • Judgment takes fire.
  • The World takes earth.

When playing any of these four "elemental trumps" as a Foundation, the player is entitled to take a second turn immediately, before the next player goes.

The other trump Foundations (Magician, Priestess, Empress, Wheel, Tower, Sun) take any element or combination of pyramids, including spirit.

Raising Pyramids

To get pyramids to place on the Foundation or on a Story, a player must redeem a small card of any suit or a trump. The player may then take pyramids of a uniform color (corresponding to the suit of the card redeemed) and uniform size, with total pip values up to the value of the card. (Aces count as 1.) E.g. A player could “cash in” the five of disks to raise green/earth pyramids: all five smalls, two mediums, or a single large. A ten of swords could raise all five small yellows, all five medium yellows, or three larges. The redeemed card is put face-up in the discard pile.

To raise spirit pyramids, redeem any trump.

  • The following “zodiacal trumps” are each worth 12 pips of white pyramids (i.e. all five smalls, all five mediums, or four larges): the Emperor, the Hierophant, the Lovers, the Chariot, Strength, the Hermit, Justice, Death, Temperance, the Devil, the Star, and the Moon.
  • The following “planetary trumps” are each worth 7 pips of white pyramids (i.e. all five smalls, three mediums, or two larges): the Magician, the Priestess, the Empress, the Wheel, the Tower, the Sun, and the World.
  • The following “elemental trumps” are each worth 4 pips (i.e. four smalls, two mediums, or a single large): the Fool, the Hanged Man, and Judgment. In addition, redeeming any of these three cards for spirit pyramids entitles the player to an immediate extra turn.

Place pyramids upright on the card towards its four corners. Pyramids must be played on cards immediately, or returned to the bank. If all five pyramids of a certain size/color combination are in play, then no more can be raised.

Stories

To make a Story on top of four pyramids, place EITHER a court card OR a planetary trump (i.e. the Magician, the Priestess, the Empress, the Wheel, the Tower, the Sun, or the World) at the top of the house.

A court card’s suit must match at least one of the pyramid elements directly beneath it in order to serve as a Story.

Pyramids played onto a Story are constrained like those played on a Foundation, but a court card may support pyramids of the element mtaching its suit and/or its value. E.g. the Queen of Swords can support yellow/air pyramids (for Swords) but also blue/water pyramids (as a Queen).

Roofs

To make a Roof on top of four pyramids, play EITHER a Ten of the suit matching the element of at least one of the pyramids OR the Judgment trump to match a spirit pyramid OR a zodiacal trump of a matching element.

The zodiacal trumps correspond to the elements as follows:

  • Fire – the Emperor, Strength, Temperance
  • Air – the Lovers, Justice, the Star
  • Water – the Chariot, Death, the Moon
  • Earth – the Hierophant, the Hermit, the Devil

Playing a Roof completes the house, and ends the hand. See “Scoring” below.

Interference

During the process of house construction, players can interfere with each other. Instead of playing to (further) construct his or her own house, a player may instead interfere by playing Trouble against another player’s house.

Trouble

Any zodiacal trump may be played crosswise against the Foundation of another player to represent Trouble. (You cannot use Trouble to interfere with a player who has no Foundation. However, a player with no Foundation may still play Trouble against other players.)

It is possible to have two Trouble cards played at the same time against a single player, one at either end of the Foundation. Further Trouble played against that player will simply replace one of the existing Trouble cards.

If a player’s house is in Trouble, the player may only draw and discard until the Trouble is relieved.

Immunity

The suit of the top Story (if it is bare), or any pyramid on the top Story, will make a house immune to Trouble from zodiacal trumps of that element. (See the elemental classes for zodiacal trumps under “Roofs” above). So, for example, against a house with a bare Prince of Disks as the top Story, you cannot play Trouble using any of the earthy zodiacal trumps: the Hierophant, the Hermit, or the Devil. Against a house with a large yellow pyramid, a large blue pyramid and a large white pyramid on top of the Wheel at its highest Story, you cannot play the airy zodiacal trumps of the Lovers, Justice, or the Star, nor the watery ones of the Chariot, Death, and the Moon.

Relief

A player may relieve Trouble on his or her house by discarding one of the following, with the consequences described:

  • A small card of the suit matching the element of the Trouble. For example, discarding a Seven of Wands would relieve Trouble in the form of the fiery zodiacal trump Temperance. Place the small card and the Trouble trump both in the discard pile. Pass the turn to the next player.
  • A court card of the suit matching the element of the Trouble. For example, discarding a King of Swords would relieve Trouble in the form of the airy zodiacal trump Justice. Place the court card and the Trouble trump both in the discard pile, then immediately take an extra turn before passing the turn to the next player.
  • An elemental trump -- to wit: the Fool (air), Hanged Man (water), Judgment (fire), and World (earth) -- can relieve trouble of the matching elements. Place the Relief trump and the Trouble trump both in the discard pie, then take two extra turns before passing the turn to the next player.

Note that a single card relieves all present Trouble on the player's house that matches the Relief element. For example, a house with a Foundation crossed by both the Devil and the Hierophant can use any single earthy Relief card to remove them both. (For this reason, playing a second Trouble card of an element matching one already played against the given house is generally a pointless move, although it may look cool!)

Demolition Happenstances

If a player knocks over his or her own house, all of the dislodged cards are moved to the discard pile, and displaced pyramids are returned to the bank. The Foundation is not lost (nor is any Trouble relieved), and play may continue.

If a player accidentally knocks over another player's house, then discard all the cards of that house (including Foundation and Trouble cards), and return all of its pyramids to the bank. The player whose house was knocked over takes control of the perpetrator's house while retaining his or her own hand of cards, and continues play thus. The player who knocked over the house may keep his or her hand, and continue play from tabula rasa, with no Foundation card yet in play.

If a player maliciously knocks over another player's house, the malefactor takes a 156-point penalty in addition to the stipulations above. (Why are you playing with that person anyhow?)

Scoring

The hand ends as soon as any one player plays a roof onto his or her house. It may happen that all players reach a point where they can no longer construct because the sizes and/or colors of pyramids they need in order to continue building their houses are already taken. When that is the case, any player can call an end to the hand by discarding face-down on his or her turn.

When the hand is over, each player scores his or her own house and cards in hand as follows:

Count the total pyramid pips in your house, and add 1 for each Story, and 5 for a Roof. If you completed a house with a Roof, then add 1 for each pyramid (regardless of size) in the house of the color matching the element required by the Roof. Subtract the face values of any small cards in your hand. (Aces count as 1.) Also, subtract as follows for court cards in your hand:

  • 1 court card = minus 1
  • 2 court cards = minus 5
  • 3 court cards = minus 25
  • 4 or 5 court cards = minus 50

Trumps in your hand do not count against you.

The high score wins that hand and the winner deals the next. Keep cumulative score until one player reaches 78 and wins the game.

Printable Resources

The traditional correspondences underlying this game may seem forbiddingly arbitrary to beginning players. Here is a quick-reference sheet showing the various card uses and values: