Equipment: One or more decks of standard playing cards; a pencil and paper; poker chips or play money to keep score.
Preparation: Give each player a set of n cards, consecutively ranked from Ace up, where n = number of players. If you are playing with seven player, for example, give each player seven cards ranked A-7; if you are playing with four people, give each player A-4. A set need not be of all the same suit.
Premise: It takes money to make money. Each player will be putting up capital in anticipation of Profits. If you want the Big Bucks, though, you will have to form a Corporation with other players. A Corporation will net you Corporate Rewards if everyone cooperates -- but if any members defect (or if an outsider tries to horn in on the action) it's back to the drawing board.
Play: On the first round, each person places a card from his hand face down on the table. When all cards have been played they are all flipped face up.
Anyone who played an unmatched card (i.e. no one else played a card of the same denomination) takes his card back into his hand and immediately scores Profits: a number of points equal to the value of the card (Aces = 1). All the players who played matching cards form a Corporation. They do not score any points, and leave their matching cards face up in front of them to indicate who belongs to which Corporations.; Multiple Corporations may be formed in the same round.
Future rounds are played exactly the same, with one additional twist. If all the members of a Corporation (and only the members of the Corporation) play the same card, they all receive Corporate Rewards: a number of points equal to the value of the card played times the number of members in the Corporation. If, however, (a) any member of a Corporation plays a card different from the other members, or (b) any person not in the Corporation plays the same card as the members, then no Corporate Rewards are given. Either way, the rest of the round is carried out as usual: those who played singletons get Profits and everyone who played matching cards form (new) Corporations. Players who were previously in Corporations should take their old cards back into their hands.
Record points with a pencil and paper, or give players chips / play money as they earn Profits and Corporate Rewards. If, at the end of a round, one or more players have at least the target score, the person with the most points wins. Points / money, by the way, is open knowledge.
Because the Corporate Rewards can skyrocket with greater number of players, a good target score for a game is 2n2, where n=number of players. In other words:
|# of players||Target Score (2n2)|
Round: A plays 3, B plays 10, C plays 3, D plays 10, E plays 3.
Result: B and D form Corporation 10 and leave their 10 cards face up to show this.
Round: A=7, B=5, C=7, D=7, E=7
Result: B, having played an unmatched card, gets 5 points. A, C, E do not get Corporate Rewards because D played the same card as them. A, C, E take their 3 cards back into their hands, B and D take back their 10 cards. A, C, D and E now form the new Corporation 7 and leave their 7 cards face up to indicate this.
Round: A=5, B=10, C=5, D=5, E=5
Result: B, having again played an unmatched card, gets 10 points. A, B, D, E get Corporate Rewards: 20 points a piece ([value of played card] x [number of people in the Corporation] = 5 x 4 = 20). A,B,D,E Take their 7 cards back into their hand and form a new Corporation by leaving their 5 cards face up.
Table Talk: Table talk (and lying, and betrayal) is encouraged. The one rule governing negotiations: all statements to other players must be "open": conducted so that all the other players can hear them. That means no whispering or going into another room. But if someone missed something because they weren't paying attention or were involved in another conversation, you are under no obligation to repeat anything.
Tips and Notes: Team up with a few other greedy players to form Corporations and reap the big bucks, but if someone is pulling ahead don't hesitate to defect. Smaller Corporations are generally better than big ones: a Corporation with a lot of members pays off better, but (a) you'll be a target for other players, (b) it's hard to get a lot of people to cooperate, and (c) if everyone reaps the same Corporate Rewards then no one really pulls ahead. Also, pay attention to what cards the members of a Corporation have in front of them, and bear in mind that they will be unable to play these cards on the next round. Conversely, form Corporations with low cards so you can use your high cards for Corporate Rewards.Posted on August 20, 2002 to Games