Icehouse Additions to an Earthling Standard
The ever-growing pile of Icehouse Games attests to the idea that an Icehouse set is as versatile as a deck of cards. So why hasn't anybody though to combine these two gaming powerhouses in a single game? Why hasn't anybody combined the Martian Chess Set with the Earthling Poker Deck? Well, now I have.
As with most of my "combine two things" type games, Martian Poker is not vastly different from its component parts. If you haven't the slightest idea how to play poker, it probably not worth learning just to play this game. If you don't already like poker, this game probably won't impress you much. If you think Poker is OK, but needs a little more (besides playing for money) to spice it up, this game may be for you. If you love Poker, but can't convince your pyramid obsessed friends to ever play, this is the game you've been waiting for.
Martian Poker is a variation on "Five Card Stud". In Five Card Stud, the first card is dealt face down, followed by a face up card and the first round of betting (if betting). Betting starts with the player who has the highest card showing, and progresses clockwise until all players have matched the bet, or folded. Then, another face up card is dealt, followed by another round of betting. Play continues in this fashion until, after the fifth card & betting, hole cards are revealed and the best hand wins the pot.
The Martian Poker variation on Five Card Stud adds a stash of Icehouse pieces for each player. Between each round of dealing and each round of betting, players may attack or defend any dealt card, including hole (face down) cards. To defend a card, remove a piece from your stash and place it upright, standing on the card you wish to defend. To attack a card, remove a piece from your stash and place it laying down, pointing at the card you wish to attack. Attacks can be separate or combined. That is, you can mount your own attack, augment your own attack, or augment the attack of another. Once pieces are committed to attacking or defending a card, that placement may not be rescinded, but attacks on the same card may be combined or separated. Once all attacks and defenses are finalized, betting commences and no more changes may be made until after the next round of dealing.
Cards that are being attacked are considered "in dispute". Undisputed cards are the property of the person to whom they were dealt, and can be used by that person as "part of their hand" for the purposes of resolving the game. Disputes are settled as follows:
Cards that change owner do not actually change location on the table. They remain in front of the person to whom they were dealt. After attacks and defenses are resolved, it may be that some players "own" fewer cards than they "should." That's life.
After the final round of betting, disputes are determined finally, and players attempt to make the best five card hand that they can from all the cards they own. The player with the best hand wins. The winner receives the contents of the betting pot.
Once the hand is resolved, all pieces defending or attacking a card a placed in the stash of the person to whom that card was dealt. Pieces that are not of that player's color are still owned by their original player, but they are now in the control of the player who posesses them. Before the start of the next hand, these pieces may be given, traded, or sold to other players. It is considered polite to return pieces that augmented your defense without charge, but it is not mandatory. You need not return pieces to their original owners, or even trade them at all.
Thus, you may lose one hand but wind up with a net gain of money, win one hand but wind up with a net loss of money after buying back your pieces, or lose one hand but win the next three due to the pieces you gain. Good luck!
These rules are currently in their 0.2 release. They have been playtested, but not extensively. Some changes have been made since the 0.1 release.