“Lucky You!” – A Tarot Board Game

UPDATE: I just tweaked some of the rules for the trump cards. Also, I’ve been playing around with this and found that, since I skewed the population of cards to the lower end, it’s very difficult to get a +5 card in order to get out of jail (especially factoring in reversals); so I changed it to +3 and will update the graphic shortly. I also expanded the number of cards to reduce the frequency of reshuffling.

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This game is played with partial (62-card) tarot decks, one for each player, each with a limited set of cards that have defined values and specific actions associated with them. This deck is split into the main “game pack” of 50 cards and a “wild-card” pack of 12 trump cards that can be pulled from (with some risk) instead of the main deck at the beginning of any turn. (You must already be “on the board” to use wild cards.) Reversals cause one-time changes in the direction of movement. Having more low-valued than high-valued cards means fewer “big moves,” either forward or backward. In all but two cases, a player must land exactly on Space No. 72 to go out.

The game resembles Chutes & Ladders and Sorry! in that you can experience large gains or losses in board position by landing on certain squares; you might also spend time in “jail” until you can bail yourself out. You will need to make your own game board (ideally of 78 spaces), with three “Dump” spaces leading to the row below, three “Jump” spaces leading to the row above, and four “Jail” spaces which lock players up until they draw a card with a value of +3 or greater (reversed cards are ignored) or they pull Justice upright (the “get out of jail free” card) from the “wild-card” pack.

The players all choose a small personal item (crystal, coin, charm, pebble, etc.) as their “game token.” Alternatively, small standard game pieces can be used. The game decks and the “wild-card” decks should be thoroughly randomized, including the introduction of random reversals, before starting. (One of the best ways to do this is to “swirl” them around on the tabletop.)

Shuffle a full deck and place it on the table. The players each pull a card from the deck, and the highest number starts the game. Set this deck aside.

The first player shuffles and cuts his or her personal deck and then pulls the top card as their “movement” card. If this results in no forward movement (and the card doesn’t specify replaying your turn), play passes to the next player. You must make one forward move before advancing any further on the board, and “special moves” do not apply until you reach Space No. 1 or beyond. When a card is pulled, it goes into a “discard” pile, which is reshuffled (including “refreshing” the upright and reversed orientation) and returned to play if there is no winner by the time the original game deck is depleted. You may also reshuffle the remainder of your main deck (without altering the upright and reversed orientation) after any turn if you think it might improve your luck.

On each turn, follow the instructions below for number of spaces to move in the specified direction, or any other special action required. In most cases, an upright card yields forward movement on the board and a reversed card causes backward movement. If you land on a “Dump” or “Jump” space at the end of your turn, immediately follow its instructions and end your move. If you land on a “Jail” space, you must remain there until you draw an upright card of 3 or greater in a subsequent turn, or pull Justice upright. If you’re in the last “jail” space and you pull a 5, you win the game; if you pull anything greater than 5 (or Justice upright), you can “get out of jail” and go to Space No. 68 but can advance no further in that turn. Special moves may relocate you ahead of or behind your position on the board at any time.

The player who is first to reach the end wins. Note that special movement rules apply when within five or ten spaces of the finish. Unless an automatic “Win” card is pulled, the winning player must land exactly on Space No. 72 in order to go out.

Here is the breakdown of card values and actions. Some the cardscards have special rules. If there are no additional instructions, play passes to the next player on your left (clockwise) immediately after your turn is over, whether or not you are able to move.

22 trump cards (with those above the Hermit numerologically reduced to a single digit); 12 are “wild”
10 court cards (the 4 Pages; 3 Knights; 2 Queens; and 1 King)
30 small cards (the 4 Aces; Twos, Threes and Fours (a total of sixteen); 3 each of Fives, Sixes and Sevens (a total of nine); 2 each of Eights, Nines (a total of four); and 1 Tens. It doesn’t matter which suits you select for the last two groups.

Fool (0) – If you are “on the board” and the Fool is not reversed, move to Space No. 22 if you haven’t already passed that point; otherwise, make no move regardless of orientation.
Magician (1) – move one space forward (if reversed, move one space back)
High Priestess (2) – move two spaces forward (if reversed, move two spaces back)
Empress (3) – move three spaces forward (if reversed, move three spaces back)
Emperor (4) – move four spaces forward (if reversed, move four spaces back)
Hierophant (5) – move five spaces forward (if reversed, move five spaces back)
Lovers (6) – move six spaces forward (if reversed, move six spaces back)
*Chariot (7) – See below
*Strength (8) – See below
Hermit (9) – move nine spaces forward (if reversed, go straight to the nearest “jail”)
Wheel of Fortune (1) – if upright, change places with the player nearest to you on the board and end your turn. (If reversed, even WORSE LUCK! Make no move and pass to the next player.)
*Justice (2) – See below.
*Hanged Man (3) – See below
*Death (4) – See below
Temperance (5) – if upright, add 5 to the previous players “main deck” score, subtracting any reversed values, and move that number of spaces either forward or backward; if the previous player used a “wild card,” move five spaces forward instead (if reversed, move five spaces back)
*Devil (6) – See below
*Tower (7) – See below
*Star (8) – See below
*Moon (9) – See below
*Sun (1) – See below
*Judgement (2) – See below
*World (3) – See below

*Wild Cards – Twelve of the trump cards in each player’s deck – seven positive and five negative – are randomized for both sequence and reversal and set aside at the start of play. These cards offer major advantages and disadvantages but the risk can outweigh the reward, especially if they are reversed. At the beginning of any turn, in an attempt to change their luck, players may choose to draw a card from the wild-card stack instead of from the main deck. (Judgement and the World are of most value when you are positioned in the final five or ten board spaces, respectively, and Justice can get you out of “jail” immediately.) The instructions for using them are:

*Chariot (7) – move seven spaces forward (if reversed, move seven spaces back)
*Strength (8) – move eight spaces forward (if reversed, move eight spaces back)

*Justice (2) – if not in “jail,” move two spaces forward (if reversed, move two spaces back). The “get out of jail free” card; if UPRIGHT, it will “spring” you when you’re locked up.

*Hanged Man (3) – make no move, lose your next turn. (If reversed, move 3 spaces forward with no loss of turn.)

*Death (4) – go back to the beginning and start over. (If reversed, YOU’RE TOTALLY DEAD! Go get a beer.)

*Devil (6) – If not reversed, steal the next player’s move; they must draw and give their movement number to you, then end their turn. You must immediately apply the number received. (If reversed, move 6 spaces back.)

*Tower (7) – If not reversed, go back half the distance to the beginning and repeat your turn. (If reversed, go to the nearest “Dump” space and follow it’s instructions.)

*Star (8) – move eight spaces forward (if reversed, move eight spaces back)

*Moon (9) – Transfer your number (either nine spaces forward or nine spaces back) to the next player and forfeit your turn. (The next player must apply the number before taking their own turn.)

*Sun (1) – If not reversed, go to the nearest “Jump” space and follow its instructions.  (If reversed, move one space back)

*Judgement (2) – move two spaces forward (if reversed, move two spaces back). If not reversed and you are within five spaces of the end, you automatically win the game.

*World (3) – move three spaces forward (if reversed, move three spaces back). If not reversed and you are within ten  spaces of the end, you automatically win the game.

Kings (4) – move four spaces forward (if reversed, move four spaces back)
Queens (3) – move three spaces forward (if reversed, move three spaces back)
Knights (2) – move two spaces forward (if reversed, move two spaces back)
Pages (1) – move one space forward (if reversed, move one space back)

When pulling any UPRIGHT Knight, you may choose to forego your move and redraw. If you pull another court card, your move fails and you must pass to the next player without advancing.

Aces – move one space forward (if reversed, move one space back)
Twos – move two spaces forward (if reversed, move two spaces back)
Threes – move three spaces forward (if reversed, move three spaces back)
Fours – move four spaces forward (if reversed, move four spaces back)
Fives – move five spaces forward (if reversed, move five spaces back)

Sixes – move six spaces forward (if reversed, move six spaces back). If not reversed and 5 spaces or less from the end, make no move and repeat your turn. If you still can’t move, pass to the next player.

Sevens – move seven spaces forward (if reversed, move seven spaces back). If not reversed and 6 spaces or less from the end, make no move and repeat your turn. If you still can’t move, pass to the next player.

Eights – move eight spaces forward (if reversed, move eight spaces back). If not reversed and 7 spaces or less from the end, make no move and repeat your turn. If you still can’t move, pass to the next player.

Nines – move nine spaces forward (if reversed, move nine spaces back). If not reversed and 8 spaces or less from the end, make no move and repeat your turn. If you still can’t move, pass to the next player.

Tens – move ten spaces forward (if reversed, move ten spaces back). If not reversed and less than ten spaces from the end, move one space forward.

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