Original Card Games by David Parlett

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AGONY AUNT


A card board game

Players 4 (solo)   Cards 53   Type Trick-avoid

This relative of Hearts is based on the Russian game of Tëtke (Aunt). I've turned it into a quasi-board game.

Equipment and set-up
A 53-card pack including a Joker, a special board divided into nine sections (illustrated below), and 68 counters in four different colours.
Place the board Diagram
Board with Agony Aunt in the centre
in the middle of the table and give each player 17 counters of one colour (red, blue, green, yellow). Each time you catch a penalty you place a counter on the appropriate penalty square of the board. Counters placed on the board are lost at the end of each game. Play ceases at the end of the game in which anyone loses their 17th and last counter. The winner is then the player with most counters remaining.
Deal
Shuffle a 53-card pack including a Joker and deal the top card face up to the table. If it is the Joker, bury it and turn the next one instead. Deal 13 cards each. The suit of the turned card is the "dump suit", the rank of the turned card is the "dump number" (Ace = one, Jack 11, Queen 12, King 13), and the Queen of dumps is the Agony Aunt. The Joker, or "Agony Uncle", represents the turned card. Whoever holds the Joker uses it exactly as if it were the card it represents.
Play
The player at dealer's left leads to the first of 13 tricks. You must follow suit if you can, but may play any card if you can't. The trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led (Ace highest, Two lowest) and the winner of each trick leads to the next. There are no trumps.
Object
The aim is to avoid catching any of nine possible penalties contained in or consisting certain tricks. Each time you incur a penalty, you place one of your counters on the square marked with that penalty. The penalties are these:
  • Agony Aunt For taking the Agony Aunt in a trick, place one of your counters in the central square of the board.
  • Agony Uncle For taking the Joker in a trick, place it in the Joker square (top left in the diagram above).
  • Queens For taking any Queen in a trick, place a counter in the square marked with its suit. This also applies to the Agony Aunt, which therefore counts for two penalties.
  • Last trick For winning the last trick, place a counter in the omega square (top right in the diagram above).
  • Most tricks For winning the greatest number of tricks, place a counter in the plus square (bottom left in the diagram above). If tied, this applies to whichever tied player took most cards of the dump suit, or, if still tied, who took the highest-ranking dump.
  • Dumpth trick This is the trick equivalent to the rank of the turned card. For example, if the turned card is the Seven and you win the seventh trick, place a counter in the square marked with a hash (bottom right in the diagram above).
Note : Taking the Agony Aunt counts at least 2 penalties: one for Agony Aunt and one for the queen of the dump suit. If the turned card is a queen it counts an additional two penalties - one for taking the Joker (Agony Uncle) representing her, and another for winning the 12th trick (since Queen = 12 = dump number).
Score
At end of play there will be nine counters on the board. If three of your own colour form a row - whether horizontally, vertically or diagonally - you lose an additional counter for each line of three that they make. (Therefore the most you can lose in one deal is 17, which is why you start with this number.) These and the nine counters on the board are then thrown away and not used again, unless won back as described below.
Special scores
The following special scores apply:
  • If you win every trick you take back all your lost counters and start again with 17.
  • If you lose every trick you take back all your lost counters and start again with 17. (But this does not apply if somebody else wins all thirteen.)
  • If you take no penalties despite winning one or more tricks, so that you end with no counters on the board, you may take back half the counters you have already lost. If it's an odd number, take one less than half.
Game
The turn to deal rotates to the left, and play continues until one or more players have lost all their counters. The winner is then the player with most counters remaining.
Copyright © renewed 2017 by David Parlett