The Civil Four: Playing Cards for New & Traditional Games
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Cribbage is not Enough

New spin on the timeless race

Players: 2 or 4 (2 teams of 2 players)
Game Time: 30-60 min. per round
Order of play: Player left of dealer, then clockwise
Materials: Civil Four Deck, some six-sided dice (x4 or more), cribbage board (optional)

Refresher on Traditional Cribbage
Cribbage is played by scoring points off your own hand and that of the opponent(s) to advance ("peg") on a board of 121 points. The first to 121 wins that game. For more variations and rules of this classic game, visit or Cribbage is celebrated for having horse-track like racing boards with two pegs per player so that moved pegs show an accurate count. If you are interested in a gorgeous handmade board from reclaimed wood, check out Wood from the Hood.


Play begins once a dealer and teams have been chosen by any means agreed by the players.

1. Shuffle grey cards for one team. Shuffle blue cards for the other. Minions are removed from the game. Dealer chooses their own team color and the team color of the opponent team. Dealer is responsible for matching players to their assigned decks. Be sure not to mix gray and blue cards during play.

2. With 4 players, dealer gives 5 cards to each player. With 2 players, dealer gives 6 cards.

3. All players deliberate (but team members may not communicate about card content) to remove cards from their hand to bring their hand to 4 cards. Removed grey cards are combined face down, and removed blue cards are combined face down. They should total 4 and the two piles are collectively referred to as "the crib" (an extra hidden hand for later).

4. Dealer's nearest clockwise opponent (not clockwork opponent) to their left splits all decks and the dealer draws the exposed cards to the top of their respective decks, face up. These cards are called Gray Top and Blue Top.

Scoring from the top

Each team's Top determines other opportunities (Dealer's preference of order):

2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 or 10: no additional action

Jack Queen King or Ace: This team may use one of the following Intel (#), Might (#) or Magic (#) of that card.

Intel: Opposing team must reveal this # of cards of EACH hand (but not the crib)

Might: This # may count as the result of an imaginary die roll added towards that Dealer's team roll for the battle for the crib

Magic: This TEAM may discard this # of cards TOTAL to gain random replacements from team deck; however # shown is not negotiable. It's # or none.

All decisions made by players must be done without revealing card information. Good luck!
A Jack on Top of any deck lets the Dealer's team automatically peg 2 "for his nob".
A Queen on Top of any deck makes the Dealer's team automatically peg -2 "for her pot".

31 count

Now that that's settled, players take turns, starting with first player (left of dealer), choosing one card from their hand and placing it down announcing the value of the sum.

J, Q & K have a value of 10 while A has a value of 1.
e.g.; player 1 places K and announces "10"; player 2 places a 6 and announces "16".

If a player's card reaches the sum of 31, that team pegs 2 points on the board.
If a player cannot play a card without overshooting the sum of 31, they say "go" and play continues to the next player. If all players say "go", the player who last placed a card pegs 1.

The player who pegged begins the count again starting with their next card. If a player is out of cards, they take no action. Play continues until all cards have been played.


During play, if any of the following occur, the player who last placed a card pegs points:

Values of "15" peg 2 each unique card combo
e.g.; player 1 places 10 and announces "10"; player 2 places a 5 and announces "15 for 2".

Pairs peg 2 each unique card combo
e.g.; player 1 places 10 and announces "10"; player 2 places a 10 and says "20 for a pair". (Similarly, three-of-a-kind pegs 6 and four-of-a-kind pegs 12)

Runs peg card number of the run
e.g.; player 1 places 5, player 2 places 6, player 1 places 7 and says, "18 for a run of 3"

Scoring Double Runs vs. Longer runs

Player w/ 8-9-10-J does NOT peg two runs of 3 (6 pts.) but a single run of 4 (4 pts.)
However, if any card should appear twice, it can allow that run to be made again.
e.g.; run of 8-9-10-J combined with a Top card of 8, 9, 10 or J would allow a double run of 4 points because of the unique combination. So the two runs add to 8 pts. (plus the pair for 10 pts total).

NOTE: runs, pairs and scoring this way only counts within a 31 count. When 31 is reached or nobody can approach 31 closer, all scoring potential is reset for the new 31 count.

Scoring the value of hands

Once all players have played their cards, each player takes turns revealing their whole hand and pegging points from its value. Each player may now use their team's Top card (without putting in their hand) and create unique scoring combos from those available if the card were a part of their hand.

Flush (all cards the same suit) pegs 4 if contained in the hand, 5 if it includes the Top card
Pairs peg 2, Three of a kind pegs 6 and Four of a kind pegs 12
Runs peg card number of the run (and can now include the Top card)
All combinations adding up to 15 peg 2.
In addition, if a J in hand matches the suit of the Top card, peg 1 for "his heels"
In addition, if a Q in hand matches the suit of the Top card, the enemy pegs -1 for "her heels".

e.g.; Example hand A-4-5-J (Top card: the other 4) allows:
5+J ("fifteen two")
A+J+4 ("fifteen four")
A+J+the other 4 ("fifteen six")
and the two fours are a pair (total 8 points)

Intelligence Bonus - Intel-based scoring

Now that all cards have been revealed, the PLAYER with the most combined intel points (add the value of the Intel (#) pips on all face cards for that player, NOT including the Top cards) may also find additional points from the opposing team's Top card. If the Intel ties with another player (including if the tie is at zero) nobody gets the bonus.

NOTE: Runs are not recounted with intel bonuses but extensions of runs do count. e.g.; player has 7-8-8-9-10 for a double run of 4. The enemy Top card has a value of 9, which allows two more unique runs of 4 that have not been counted yet, NOT four. Keep an eye on those cheaters!


After the count and the intel bonus, if any player sees points in an enemy hand that haven't been counted, they may peg the points for their team by declaring "Muggins" and showing the error. However team mates may not use muggins on their own team members. (You are stuck with your idiot friend!)

Battle for the Crib

Might-based mini game

Each player notes the value of all Might (#) pips on all their face cards, NOT including the Top cards. Each player rolls the number of dice corresponding to that total. The dealer may add two additional dice. (That old pile of six-sided dice finally came in handy!).
Sum the roll and add:
1. The Might (#) value of the enemy Top card, if player's team won the intelligence bonus
2. The Might (#) value of the team Top card (if that Top card was not used for Intel or Magic and player's team did not lose the intelligence bonus)

The PLAYER (not team) with the greatest total "wins the crib" (counts crib cards from both teams.) If there is a tie (or no battle), then each team keeps their respective crib cards.

Rob the Cradle

Magic-based scoring of the crib

All teams reveal the crib cards. Teams want to score additional 15's, pairs and runs from the crib cards they still own. If a team lost their crib cards to the battle, they don't peg points.

However, before pegging points, note the Magic (#) pips in the crib cards, no matter in whose "possession" those crib cards are. If a team color's Magic value exceeds the other color's, the corresponding team may consult each other and take an action:
1. ban ALL cards of a chosen team color from being counted (including Top Card of that color)
~OR ~
2. add an additional random card to the crib from their team's deck (not the Top card).

NOTE: This can only be done once, even if the additional card has a Magic (#).

NOTE: Teams with no crib don't do 2., because a single card does not peg any value here.

Pegging from available crib cards proceeds as usual. In addition to the team Top Card, a player's team can still use the enemy's Top Card if it was won in the Intelligence Bonus and that player's team did not lose it in the Battle for the Crib or Magic action 1.

End of round

After the crib points have been counted, Muggins rules apply. Then all cards are gathered to their like decks and shuffled. Role of dealer passes to player clockwise from previous dealer.


If you win by a margin of 31 points or more, you have "skunked" the opponent and this counts as two won games in competitive gaming.

Table Talk Penalty

Each round that a team is caught communicating illegal information about their hand, the opponent team may peg a point. Peg two points if both players are guilty.

Winning Multiple Games

Cribbage is traditionally played multiple times to determine a "true" champion.


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