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. Organize your social and business network carefully, or your competitor may step in and co-opt your network.

Carbondale is a game for two players played with two 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 is twenty to thirty minutes.

Objective

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 with the same backs.

Tip (click me) We used a ball-point pen to draw an unobtrusive line between the rank and suit of every card in one deck. The marks are ignored for play, but make it easy to separate the decks after the game, and to play other two-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. One player gets an A ♠ and 2 ♣ and one gets an A ♣ and 2 ♠. This is the beginning of your network.

Play

Players alternate taking turns. In your turn, you may try to claim a card from your 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 your opponent's network

Tip (click me) if this is your first time reading the rules, read "Adding a card to your network" below and come back to this part.

You may attempt to take a vulnerable card from your opponent's network and put that card in your hand. Cards are not vulnerable to being claimed if:

Here is the process of attempting to claim a card in your 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, 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 ♣ or ♠ whose value is 5 or above.
  3. Now your opponent may show a defending card that is of equal or higher value to your challenge card. It must be of the same color, and equal or higher value.
  4. If your opponent played a defending card, the card you hoped to claim stays in their network.
  5. If your opponent does not play a defending card:

Adding a card to your network

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.

Zoning regulations

In the example here, 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♠ (see below). ZR1 allows ♡s and ♢s cards to be built outside the main 5x5 grid, like the 3♢ and 4♡. The player built a 2♡ up from the 2♠, and a 2♢ 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 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.

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

The cost of networking

Your options for progress as a networking businessperson follow a few general principles:

Each build is from some card with some suit and a rank (let us call it N) to another card. The boxes below show the suits you can build from→to, and the rank the built card can have.

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

A few examples using the figure above:

Tip (click me) Cards from an attempt to claim from an opponent's network are always discarded face down, and cards paying the cost of a build are laid face up.

Or Discard

If you did not build a new card in your network, you may discard any number of cards from your hand. Also discard your discard pile: take your face-up discards and put them in 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.

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 your opponent's face-up and fanned-out discards (not yours), 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. Take the next of these spare piles (if any) plus the face-up and face-down discard piles, and shuffle them all together to form the next draw pile.

Reference: turn summary and build costs

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