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KINGS AND SERFS


Objective:

A card game where you try to get rid of your cards and move yourself into the head chair, often referred to as the King chair.

Game type:

Active. A lot of movement may be required.

Players:

4 to 8 players

Needed:

Standard deck of 52 cards

Setup:

This game is also called Scum or Presidents. Sit in a circular fashion, around a table is best. Label the chairs. The head chair should be label "King", the second chair is "Minister", all other chairs are Peasants and the lowest chair is labeled "Serf". Players draw cards to determine where they should sit. Aces are highest followed by kings and so on. Jokers don't count during the seating draw and the player should draw again. Players with the same rank (such as two 4's) are then ranked based on suit. Diamonds are highest, next hearts, then clubs and finally spades. Players then take their seats sitting in clockwise order.

Dealing:

If the group is big you can consider using two decks of cards. The Serf always deals the cards. All cards are dealt to all players equally. Any extra cards are dealt first to the Serf and then counterclockwise towards the King. For example, if there are 7 players, each player will get 7 cards with 5 left over. After the cards are dealt, the Serf must give the King his highest card and the King gives the serf any card of his choosing. Then play begins.

Round and hands:

Play consists of hand and rounds. A round may consist of many hands and ends when all players have played all their cards. The King always leads the first hand of every round. From that point until the end of the round, each hand is lead by the winner of the previous hand.

Rules of a hand:

Kings and serfs is a game of tricks. Whoever leads begins by placing any single card or any set of cards of equal rank on the table. For example, you might play one king or 3 sevens etc. Play moves clockwise around the table. The next player must either pass or play the SAME number of cards of a higher rank. For example, if the lead player plays two 5's, the next player might play two 10's, the player after that might pass, and the player after that might play 2 aces and so on. Once the lead player has played their card or cards, the number if cards is frozen, in other words, if the lead player 2 of a certain rank, you cannot play three of a rank during your turn, you must play only two and save any additional cards of the same rank for another hand. Passing is always allowed and you are never forced to play cards even if you have cards which can be played. This is part of the strategy of the game.

Ending the hand:

The hand ends when someone plays and then everyone else passes. The Serf then gathers up the cards and puts them aside. The winner of the last hand leads the next hand and the game continues. Eventually players will run out of cards and go out for that round. You should keep track of the order in which players go out. If a player goes out, play continues to their left. If a player goes out and is the last player of the hand. The first person to their right who is still in the game leads. If there is no one to their left still in the game, then the first person to their left still in the game leads the next hand.

Ending the round:

Eventually after several hands, all players will be out of cards. The order in which they went out determines the seating order for the next round. The first to go out moves to the King's chair. The second out to the Minister's chair, the third out to the highest Peasant chair and so on around. The last to go out is of course the Serf for the next round. The players should physically move to their new chairs. Then the next round begins and the Serf deals the cards again.

Scoring:

After each round players score points based on where they are sitting. The King scores 5 points, the Minister 4 points, the highest Peasant 3 points, the lowest Peasant 1 point, all other Peasants 2 points and the Serf gets 0 points. Scores are kept and tallied. First player to 25 points wins (or whatever value the group decides).

Variations:

Here are some variations which you can choose to employ if you wish:

1. Single hand method: Once someone leads a hand each player only gets one chance to play or pass.
2. No play after passing: Once someone passes they loose the privilege of playing cards throughout the rest of the hand.
3. Lowest card leads: During the first hand of the round, the lower cards of a given card leads. This can vary but is usually the two of clubs.
4. Have to play: Players can pass but only if they do not have cards to play. Otherwise they must play.
5. Playing more cards: In this version players can beat a previous players cards by playing a number of cards greater than the previous players. For example, if the previous player plays 2 kings, the next player can beat it by playing three 4s. This negates the rule that you can only play the same number of cards as those played by whoever lead the hand.
6. Equal plays: Players can play cards of equal rank (as opposed to having to beat the previous rank.)
7. Jokers high: Jokers can be used in the deck and treated as higher than an ace. A single joker can beat any set or number of cards or any rank and the player who follows the played joker can play anything he/she likes. The hand then continues from the new players cards.
8. Jokers wild: Jokers can treated as a replacement for any card.
9. Two high: In this version two are treated like jokers and are high card (but not wild) and can beat any set or number of card of any rank.
10. Twos and threes wild: Two and threes are treated as wild cards replacing any cards.

Enter and leaving:

Players can lead the game after any hand. All player shift towards the King. If a player joins, they must join at the beginning of a hand and enter as the Serf.

More Variations:

Fixed Seating: You can play where all players stay in the same seat and just the titles rotate. However, in this version their won't be a physically hierarchy order, only a logical one.

Hats: A fun version is to use hats depending on the seats you sit in. Be creative.

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