Martian Trickery

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Under development

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

A trick-taking game for 3-4 players by Joss Ives

Martian Trickery
Joss Ives
A trick-taking game where you earn pyramids by winning tricks
:Players Players:
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: Low
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: One Treehouse set
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: One Treehouse set
Five-color sets:
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
One deck of standard playing cards and a way to keep score
Setup time: 2 minutes
Playing time:
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Medium
Game mechanics: Trick taking, Push your luck
Theme: None
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

What you need

  • One Treehouse (rainbow or xeno) or two monochrome stashes (see variants)
  • One deck of standard playing cards
  • Pencil and paper or some other way to keep score


Martian Trickery is a trick-taking game where you win a pyramid each time you win a trick. Unfortunately, one colour of pyramids causes you to lose points unless you manage to win all three. Inspired by the "all-or-nothing" nature of hearts, Martian Trickery rewards you for your ability to play your hand instead of just rewarding you for being dealt a strong hand.


For a 3-player game remove from the deck the 2 through 5 of each suit and any jokers, leaving a deck of 36 cards. For a 4-player game remove from the deck the 2 of each suit and any jokers, leaving a deck of 48 cards. Remove from the game one of the non-opaque coloured nests from the Treehouse set and place the remaining 12 pyramids in the middle of the table. Choose a dealer.

Playing a hand

The dealer will shuffle and deal 12 cards to each player. The game is played as a standard trick-taking game with spades always being the trump suit.

  • Aces are high.
  • Leading:
    • When leading a trick, that player will select one of the pyramids from the middle of the table as the prize for winning that trick.
    • The player to the left of the dealer will lead the first trick.
    • The player who wins a trick will lead the next trick.
  • A player must follow the lead suit if possible. If a player cannot follow the lead suit, they can play a card from a non-spades suit as a sluff or they can trump the trick with a spades card. A trick is won by the highest card of the lead suit unless trump has been played. If trump has been played, the highest trump wins the trick. The player winning the trick will also take the prize pyramid for that trick.
  • Spades cannot be lead until they have been broken. Spades have been broken during a hand if a player uses a spade to trump a trick of a different suit.
  • After the 12 tricks have been played scoring will occur and the deal will pass to the next player to the left of the dealer.
  • The game will end after 4 hands have been played.


After the 12 tricks from a hand have been taken, a scoring round will occur. There are two categories of pyramids that are considered during scoring: the opaque (penalty) pyramids and the non-opaque (point) pyramids.

The point pyramids are scored the following way, with a given pyramid only being allowed to be part of one set (no double counting):

  • A single pyramid is worth 1 point.
  • A set of 3 pyramids of the same size is worth 7 points.
  • A non-monochrome tree is worth 5 points.
  • A monochrome tree is worth 7 points.

The penalty pyramids modify the above scoring in the following way:

  • Exactly one penalty pyramid eliminates all pyramids of the that size from scoring. For example, if you took the small penalty pyramid, all of your small pyramids would be removed from the this scoring round and you would only score you medium and large pyramids, making it impossible to score a tree during this scoring round.
  • Exactly two penalty pyramids causes your total score from this scoring round to be subtracted from your total score instead of added to it. The penalty pyramids are not considered when determining the score and they do not cause like-sized pyramids to be removed from scoring as in the exactly one penalty pyramid case.
  • Exactly three penalty pyramids is worth 21 points. The penalty pyramids themselves are not considered when determining the score from the rest of the point pyramids.

The game ends after 4 hands have been played. The player with the highest score is the winner. If there is a tie for first place, continue playing hands until there is no longer a tie for first place. Note that it is possible for a player who was not originally tied for first place to win the game by taking the lead after playing a tie-breaker hand.

Variant for two monochrome stashes

Modifications to Setup

Choose one of the colours to be the penalty colour. Take one nest of this (penalty) colour and three nests of the other (point) colour. Set aside the rest of the stashes as they are not needed.

Modifications to Scoring

Penalty pyramids are still scored in the exact same way. Since it is no longer possible to make a non-monochrome tree out of point pyramids, a tree made from point pyramids is always worth 5 points.

Version History

V1.3 - Apr26/07 - Scoring from 3 penalty pyramids revised

V1.2 - Apr25/07 - Scoring revised based on 3 nests of scoring pyramids

V1.1 - Apr20/07 - Two stash variant and overview posted.

V1.0 - Apr04/07 - Initial rules posted.

License This work is distributed by Joss Ives under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.