Four Tribes

a quick card game for 2-5 players

Author: Clinton R. Nixon


You need a standard deck of 52 cards, jokers removed. Shuffle the deck and deal 7 cards to each player. Deal 10 if you are playing a two-player game. Set the rest of the cards in the middle of the table. This is the draw deck.

The player to the left of the dealer will begin the game.


The goal of the game is to "unite the four tribes." You must have in front of you one of each face card (Ace, King, Queen, Jack), each one of a different suit. Each of these must be "wed" to a card.


The thematic color of the game is that you are building a family tree. In this tree, you are trying to collect the four face cards that you need to win.

Each turn


You must draw one card at the beginning of each turn.


You can do one of several actions each turn.

  1. Lay down a card from your hand.

    If you have no cards on the table, you can lay down any card. If you have cards down, you must either wed your card, or conceive your card.

    To wed a card, lay it down next to a card that is not already wed. These cards should overlap some in order to show off that they are wed. You cannot wed two cards of the same suit.

    To conceive a card, lay it down in front of a wed couple. A conceived card must be of one of the two suits that are wed, and must be between the two values of the cards. It can be equal to one of the two values. For this purpose, aces are counted as high cards.

    You can see how this makes card "generations." You can never have more than one couple in your first generation. No more than two generations can be active at any time. You can have no more than 10 family cards on the table at any given time.

  2. Retire a generation.

    Remove the entire generation from the table and put it in the discard pile.

  3. Duel another card.

    You can duel others' cards. Pick one of your family cards on the table and someone else's family card on the table to duel and lay down one to three cards from your hand face-down as your duel. That person can then lay down one to three cards from their hand face-up. Flip your duel cards over and compare. Most cards are their value; kings, queens, and jacks count as 10; aces count as 1. Add up your family card and duel cards and compare them to the other person's family card and duel cards. If your total is higher than their total, their family card is discarded and all the duel cards are discarded. If their total is higher or equal to your total, your family card is discarded and all the duel cards are discarded.

    If they choose to lay down zero cards, their family card is automatically discarded, but they keep your duel cards.

    You cannot choose to duel certain cards. Your cards cannot duel other cards of the same suit that are greater in value. Wed cards cannot duel cards of their spouses' suit that are greater in value than their spouse.

  4. Propose to another card

    You can propose to other people's unwed cards. Choose an unwed family card of your own, and an unwed family card of theirs. Choose one to three cards from your hand and place them face-up as your offering. If they accept, you get to take their card that you have chosen and wed it to your card. If they refuse, they must duel you immediately with one of the parent cards for this card. (If the card has no parents, it must duel.)

  5. Do nothing.

    This is the boring option, but seems necessary. I may take this out.