ZODIAC
A fast-paced re-imagining of classic matching games like Slapjack and Egyptian Ratscrew, for 2 or more players. Average play time: 10 to 30 minutes.

COMPONENTS
To play Zodiac, you will need:

  • One (1) 71-card Anthromancer Deck (including hymns)

SET UP
Before you begin, go through the deck and find the Zodiac hymn. Remove this card from the deck and place it face-up in the play area, where each player is the same distance from it.

Then, shuffle the remaining 70 cards and deal an equal number of cards to every player until there are no cards left in the deck. If an odd number of cards remain after doing this, place any remaining cards face-up beneath the Zodiac card. Players cannot look at their cards at any time; they should hold their cards in a single stack, face down.

Fig. 1.1: Playing a card properly.

Fig. 1.1: Playing a card properly.

HOW TO PLAY
The player to the left of the dealer begins by placing a single card face-up, always from the top of their stack, on top of the Zodiac card. When playing a card a player must reveal the card to all players at the same time, drawing to reveal the card away from themselves and then flipping face up (this action prevents a player from drawing a card towards themselves and revealing the card to themselves first).

Each player plays a single card at a time. Play proceeds in a clockwise circle until one of the following appears:

If a player plays a Jack, Queen, King, Ace, or Lord: The next player in rotation has (x) chances (where (x) is equal to (1) for a Jack, (2) for a Queen, (3) for a King, (4) for an Ace, and (5) for a Lord) to ‘beat’ the card with a Jack, Queen, King, Ace, or Lord of their own, or a Hymn of any value. If the player succeeds, the next player in rotation must ‘beat’ the new card; if the player fails, the previous player (that played the original Jack, Queen, King, Ace, or Lord) picks up the entire pile and adds it, face down, to the bottom of their stack.

If a player plays a Hymn between I and XII: The next player in rotation has (3) chances to ‘beat’ the hymn with a card of any value (including other Hymns) that has the same colored element as that of the hymn. Hymns beat Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces, and Lords, but Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces, and Lords do NOT beat hymns unless they share a hymn’s colored element. If the player succeeds with a card of face value 2-10, play proceeds normally to the next player in rotation; if the player succeeds with a Jack, Queen, King, Ace, Lord, or Hymn, then the next player in rotation must ‘beat’ the new card; if the player fails, the previous player (that played the original hymn) picks up the entire pile and adds it, face down, to the bottom of their stack.

If a Slap Pattern appears: When certain combinations of cards appear in the pile, any player that notices this pattern has the option of ‘slapping’ the pile – literally slapping it with their hand – to stop play and immediately pick up the entire pile and add it, face down, to the bottom of their stack. There are (3) types of slap patterns:

1.     If two cards appear in the pile consecutively with the same face value.

2.     If two hymns appear in the pile consecutively with the same colored element.

3.     If slap pattern 1 or 2 appears, separated by a single, unrelated card. This is called a Sandwich.

For a legitimate slap, the person to react the fastest and slap the pile first claims the pile. If multiple people slap simultaneously with no discernible victor, then the person whose hand has contact with the most cards by comparison takes the pile. Hands must be entirely withdrawn before the pile may be slapped; it is considered unfair to hover one’s hand too close to the pile. If a player commits a ‘false slap’, meaning they slap the pile when no valid pattern is present, that player must take the top two cards of their stack and place them face-up on the bottom of the pile.

If a player plays Hymn XIII. Zodiac, Hymn 0. The Fool, or Hymn 00. The Fox: All hymns, court cards, and slap patterns are neutralized, and play proceeds as normal. Any previous hymns, court cards, and slap patterns no longer take effect in the current pile.

Any player who takes a pile is always the one to start the next pile. When taken, piles are always added to the bottom of a player’s stack, face-down. Cards are not shuffled.

HOW TO WIN
The object of the game is to collect the entire deck, and to be the last player with any cards.

You may want to forbid hand jewelry before playing this game.