A Tarot deck is pretty much the same thing as a regular playing card deck, except it has four court cards (Jack, Cavalier, Queen, and King), and it has 22 trump cards. Tarot is famous for being used by fortune tellers, but they were originally used for games.
I posted the rules for “Combat,” a card game using regular playing cards. “Tarot Combat” is almost the same game, except there are less soldier cards that have special abilities. Instead, there’s 22 “trump cards” with special abilities. Also, these cards can be played any time. You can play special ability cards during the opponent’s turn.
What’s the game like?
The main idea of “Tarot Combat” is that both players start with 20 life, and take turns drawing a card, attacking, and playing cards. Players can play any one card face-down as a “farm” during their turn, which is put in front of the player who played it and is turned sideways to pay the costs of cards. Any non-trump card can be played as a soldier, which is also put in front of the player who plays them. Court costs are the most powerful soldiers, so they have a cost. (Jacks cost 1, Cavaliers cost 2, Queens cost 3, and Kings cost 4.) The cost of the card is the number of farms that have to be turned sideways. All sideways cards a player controls are turned right-side-up at the beginning of that player’s turn.
Soldiers can attack or block before a player plays cards during his or her turn. Soldiers that attack and are unblocked deal a certain amount of damage to the defending player. Soldiers that are blocked enter combat against the soldiers blocking them, and they take turns dealing damage.
Trump cards each have a special ability, which costs 2. These cards can make soldiers more powerful, they can help you draw cards, etc. If you play a card for the special ability, then you put it into the discard pile after it resolves.
The comprehensive rules is available in a rulebook, which can be downloaded in PDF format: Click here to download it. (Updated 8/16/13)
There are five rule cards that can be used for a quick reference:
The First Three Turns
An example of the first three turns of the game:
Jacques and Jill shuffle the deck, randomly determine that Jill will play first, and draw 7 cards each.
Jill draws an Ace of diamonds, Two of hearts, Four of hearts, Five of hearts, Queen of hearts, Death, and The World:
Jacques draws an Ace of spades, Three of spades, Six of spades, Seven of hearts, Jack of spades, Magician, and The Tower:
Jill takes her first turn. She can play any one card face down as a farm for free during her turn. She plays the Two of hearts face down as a farm because it’s the weakest card. She puts it onto the table in front of her.
Jill can play the Ace, Two, or Five face up as soldiers for free, but the Ace can also be played as a special ability. She decides to play the Nine and Ten as soldiers. They are face up in front of her on the table. She turns the farm sideways to play the Jack because it costs one. Soldiers that have a cost can only be played if you already have a card of the same suit in play, and the Nine and Ten are both of hearts, just like the Jack. She now has the following cards in front of her:
Jacques takes his first turn. He draws a Five of spades. He plays the Seven face down on the table in front of him as a farm because it’s not the right suit. He plays the Six on the table in front of him as a soldier. He turns the farm sideways to pay the cost to play the Jack as a soldier (which costs one to play). He also can play the Jack because he already had a soldier of spades in play, which was a good reason to play the Six of spades. He keeps the Three of spades in his hand because he plans on playing it face-down as a farm next turn. He now has the following cards in front of him on the table:
Jill takes her second turn. She turns her farm right-side-up. She draws a Four of spades. She attacks with the Nine, Ten, and Jack. They are turned sideways. Jacques blocks the Ten with his Jack, and the Jack with his Six. Jill’s Nine is unblocked. The soldiers with the most speed deal damage first. The Ten and Jacks all have 10 speed, so they deal damage first. Jill’s Jack has two strength, so it deals two damage to Jack’s Six. The six is destroyed, so it’s put into the discard pile. Jacques’s Jack deals two damage to Jill’s Ten, so the Ten is destroyed and put into the discard pile.
Then the Nine deals one damage to Jacques because it only has one Strength. Jacques now has 19 life points.
There are no more soldiers that can deal damage at this point, and all damage is removed from soldiers
Then Jill plays the Four face down as a farm. She turns both farms sideways to play Death to destroy Jacques’s Jack, which is put into the discard pile.