The Civil Four: Playing Cards for New & Traditional Games
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Civil Suits

A trick-avoiding game

Players: 4 Players
Game Time: 10-15 min. per round, 4 rounds per game
Order of play: Player left of dealer, then clockwise
Materials: Civil Four Deck, & means of recording secret info for each player (scrap paper/phone etc.)

Refresher on Hearts
Hearts is a trick taking game where the object is to take the fewest tricks and score the lowest. At the end of each round, players tally how many bad cards they have acquired and gain a demerit for each card. In addition, the Queen of Spades is worth 13 demerits so it is generally avoided. If one manages to collect it though, along with all 13 poison cards, then one has "shot the moon", takes no demerits, and the other three players take 26 demerits each.

In this variation, the bad cards may change with every round because the civil suit is chosen by each individual player. You may choose spades, diamonds, clubs or hearts. Cards are played by placing it in the center of the table face up.

Dealing begins once a dealer has been chosen by any means agreed by the players.

1. Dealing

Dealer shuffles all cards together (the minions are included). Deal out all the cards until everyone has at least 13, starting with player to dealer's left. Two players will have 14 cards. Player left of dealer deals next.

2. Civil Suits

Each player examines their hand, chooses a civil suit and notes it privately.

3. Passing Cards

At the start of each round, players select a number of cards to pass to another player. If a player was dealt 14 cards, then they receive 3. If they were dealt 13 cards they receive 4.

In the first round, players pass selected cards to the LEFT
In the second round, players pass selected cards to the RIGHT
In the third round, players pass selected cards to the player ACROSS from them
In the fourth round, each player with 14 cards passes just one card to the nearest player with 13 cards.

4. First Trick of the Entire Game

Each player must lay a card if they can so the Dealer is permitted to lay first, and permission to lay first passes clockwise from there. If all four players decline, then the player clockwise (left) of Dealer must lay first. You may not play a Minion on the first trick. (See: Minion Trump)

5. Taking Tricks

Every trick after the first trick, the player who last took the trick must lay the first card, then play passes clockwise. If one or two players has no cards, their turn(s) may be skipped for the rest of the round. After the trick when a third player is out of cards, all remaining cards in the fourth player's hand must be taken by that player as the last trick.

If no trumps occur, the player who played the highest value card takes the trick, in the following heirarchy:
A (low), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K (high), Minion
Whoever takes the last trick must lay first on the next round.

6. Ties

In the case of a tie between two or more highest cards, ALL players may elect to play a Challenger Card (A,J,Q,K) from their hand, but they do not have to.

If a tie occurs between the highest Challengers (e.g.; 3 Jacks and a number card or 2 Queens and nobody else has cards) and no Champion of Might determines a trump suit, then the last card played breaks the tie, and that player takes the trick. However, players may Attack the Trick before the trick is taken. (see 8. Attacking the Trick)

7. Minion Trump

If a player plays a Minion, they must take the trick but they are permitted to announce a suit that they ban from the trick. If the minion player opts to ban, then players who played the banned suit must take back the card they played and put it back in their hand, unless it is the only suit they can play and choose another card that is not in the banned suit. If a player's only alternative to the banned suit is the other Minion, that player must remove the banned suit and play the Minion. In that case, the newer Minion takes the trick, although they too may announce a banned suit. The player of a Minion is not required to ban a suit. Bans do not extend to any following tricks. (Though the same suit may be banned by each Minion).

8. Attacking the Trick

If after all players you could play have played a card, and two or more challenger cards (A,J,Q,K) are in the mix, and the trick does not contain a Minion, then each player who played a champion card may use the champion's strengths to attack the trick. Only a champion with a power (Intel, Might or Magic) # higher than all others may use that power. Ties do not succeed. There can be only one Champion of each power per trick.

Champion of Intelligence

The player whose card won Intel may look at an opponent's paper to see what suit they have chosen. They may elect to do anything they wish with that information including exposing it.

Champion of Might

The player whose card won Might may select a trump suit that applies only to the present trick. The player who played the highest card in that trump suit takes the trick (after any Champion of Magic has been determined, as per below).

Champion of Magic

The player whose card won Magic may do one of the following:

A. Subtract one demerit from their score.
B. If this is not the final trick, remove the cards they select from the present trick and place them face down in the center of the table. These cards go to the player who takes the next trick. If this is the final trick of the game, this option cannot be used.

NOTE: The removed cards MUST go to the player who takes the following trick. No storing cards over more than one trick.

9. Out of cards

When a player is out of cards, they do not contribute to the trick and do not have to take a trick. The tricks simply get smaller as players run out of cards. The last player with cards does not play them, and must take them as if they were part of a trick.

10. Scoring

At the end of the round, each player reveals their hidden (or not so hidden) civil suit they wrote down. Each player that did not shoot the moon (see below) receives for cards in their possession:

1 demerit for each card in their civil suit
3 demerits for each Ace NOT in their civil suit
4 demerits for each Jack, Queen or King NOT in their civil suit
5 demerits for each Minion

Shooting the Moon

If a player collected all 13 cards of that suit, then they receive no demerits for the round at all.

Shooting the Moon Together

In addition, if this happens for both suits of a like color, e.g.; Player 1 collects all spades (gray), Player 2 collects all clubs (gray) then both players may remove 13 demerits from their score. (That's a good thing.)

Shot in the Moon

However, if a player collected all 13 cards of the "wrong" suit (which is not the suit they wrote down), they take no demerits from the Ace, Jack, Queen or King of that suit.

11. Winning

After the four rounds are played, the player (or players) with the fewest points wins.


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