Carbondale

There are two ways to find happiness in this small town: money (♢) or love (♡). You will need to build a good network at the local clubs to win hearts, and you will have to have the highest-quality spades to mine for diamonds. Arrange your affairs carefully, or your competitor may step in and co-opt your network.

Carbondale is a game for two to four players played with standard decks of cards. It is not a "casual" card game like many standard-deck games, but is far less complex than many custom-card games on the market today. Play time for players familiar with the rules is twenty to thirty minutes for two players, plus about fifteen minutes per additional player.

Objective

Each player will be building their own personal Carbondale, a grid of cards. The objective is to build a network with at least 7 ♡s and at least 3 ♢ cards, or at least 7 ♢s and at least 3 ♡s. The game ends as soon as a player reaches one of these goals.

Setup

You will need two standard decks of cards for two players, three decks for three players, or four decks for four players.

Tip (click me) The decks preferably have the same backs, though this is not required unless you have a card-counting pro in your group. We used a ball-point pen to draw an unobtrusive line between the rank and suit of every card in one deck, above the rank and suit in another, and below the rank and suit in another. The marks are ignored for play, but make it easy to separate the decks after the game, and to play other multi-deck games. How about trying five-suit bridge?

Please note: Throughout the game, Ace=1.

Each player gets two starting cards to lay on the table, one next to the other. At random, give each player either an A♠ and 2♣, or an A♣ and 2♠. This is the beginning of your network.

The table

After setup:

Figure 1: A player's network, with several places to add new cards. Some
examples will be given below.

As the game progresses, two piles will develop:

Play

Players take turns, going clockwise around the table. In your turn, you may try to claim a card from an opponent, then you may add a card to your network. Or, you can discard any number of cards. At the end of your turn you will draw to replenish your hand.

Taking a card from an opponent's network

You may attempt to take a vulnerable card from an opponent's network and put that card in your hand. The general idea is that a card is vulnerable until it is integrated into the network by being built upon. But to define this precisely, a card is vulnerable to being claimed unless:

Click here to see the example tableau again. Figure 1: A player's network, with several places to add new cards. Some
examples will be given below.
In the example tableau, the 3♢, 5♠, 6♢, and 4♡ are vulnerable.

Here is the process of attempting to claim a card in an opponent's network:

  1. As soon as you state that you are going to attempt to take an opponent's card, discard one card from your hand. Players typically do this somewhat enthusiastically, while exclaiming "I challenge you!" This card is the price of the challenge, and is simply discarded face down.
  2. Show a card (the challenge card) from your hand whose value is at least two steps higher than the card you wish to take, that has the same color. For example, to claim a 3♣, you need a black card whose value is 5 or above.
  3. Now your opponent may show a defending card. It must be of the same color, and equal or higher value to your challenge card.
  4. If your opponent played a defending card:
  5. If your opponent does not play a defending card:

Adding a card to your network

In this phase, select any card from your hand, possibly including one you just claimed from your opponent, and place it in your network following Carbondale's zoning regulations, then pay for the build.

As a buisnessperson in a small town, you will join clubs of increasingly high rank and use those to win hearts, and buy a chain of spades for the purpose of mining for diamonds. Hearts and diamonds themselves do not produce anything, but are how you will find pockets of happiness in Carbondale and win the game.

Zoning regulations

Each player's personal Carbondale must follow the zoning regulations:

Tip (click me) Laying a red card slightly over its source card will help to record which card was built from where. When building East or West, lay the newly-built red card sideways.

Click here to see the example tableau again. Figure 1: A player's network, with several places to add new cards. Some
examples will be given below.
In the example tableau, the player's town started with the 2♠ and A♣. The town is already five black cards wide, but three tall, leaving some room to expand North or South. The player could, for example, build a 4♣ South of the 4♠. ZR3 allows red cards to be built outside the main 5x5 grid, like the 3♢ and 4♡. The player built a 2♡ North from the 2♠, and a 2♢ West from the 3♣, which we can tell because the 2♢ builds out sideways from the 3♣. The 2♡ and the 2♢ occupy the same single spot in the grid; similarly for the 5♡ and 3♡. Eventually, new black cards could be built to the West and North of the 2♡ and the 2♢, and building from those new cards would allow the 2♡/2♢ spot to hold two more cards.

The cost of networking

Some builds have a cost. For those builds:

Here are your build options:

Click here to see the example tableau again. Figure 1: A player's network, with several places to add new cards. Some
examples will be given below.
A few examples using the example tableau:

Here is a summary of the possible builds, where the card built from has rank N:

Build for free,
draw to 4 cards
Contribute one card,
draw to 3 cards
suits rank
♣ → ♣
♠ → ♠
≤N+1
suits rank
♣ → ♣
♠ → ♠
N+2
♣ → ♡
♠ → ♢
≤N
♣ → ♠
♠ → ♣
≤N+1

Tip (click me) All cards played during challenges are discarded face-down, while all costs to build are contributed to the communal face-up stock.

Or Discard

If you did not build a new card in your network, you may discard any number of cards from your hand to the face-down discard pile.

Drawing new cards

At the end of your turn, draw until you have a card count as given in the build table, either 3 or 4 cards. If you did not build, draw to 4 cards.

Remember, if you tried to claim an opponent's card this turn and failed, draw to one fewer card.

You may draw cards from the draw deck or the communal face-up and fanned-out stock pile in any order, until you reach the right card count.

At the moment a player wants to draw from the draw pile but the pile is empty (and no sooner), form a new draw pile. At setup, you formed two piles of extra cards, each an opportunity to build your network further. Form the next draw pile by shuffling together the next of these spare piles (if any), the face-up stock, and face-down discard pile.

Reference: turn summary and build costs

Build for free,
draw to 4 cards
Contribute one card,
draw to 3 cards
suits rank
♣ → ♣
♠ → ♠
≤N+1
suits rank
♣ → ♣
♠ → ♠
N+2
♣ → ♡
♠ → ♢
≤N
♣ → ♠
♠ → ♣
≤N+1