The rules below use a standard poker deck.
For the illustrated print edition visit Lester Smith Games on DriveThruCards.com.
A poker-card game of monstrous competition for 2-4 players.
Desiré Delamort, star of this year’s blockbuster alien-invasion film, is guest of honor at MonsterCon*. What she doesn’t know is that she’s also the Vampire’s intended bride, the Mummy’s reincarnated love, the Werewolf’s destined mate, and the key to restoring the Zombie’s soul. Each of these creatures is stalking among the costumed attendees of MonsterCon in hopes of capturing her. Can they get the girl without giving themselves away and falling prey to an angry mob of horror fans? And in the end, who will she go home with?
- 1 deck of poker cards. You’ll use one suit for each player.
- Some way of keeping score: Pencil and paper are great.
- Separate the Kings from the rest of the deck, shuffle them together, and deal one face up on the table to each player. This determines who plays which monster.
- Spades: the Vampire
- Hearts: the Werewolf
- Clubs: the Zombie
- Diamonds: the Mummy
Players leave their King on the table to show which monster they are playing.
- If there are fewer than four players, discard the remaining Kings.
- Gather the suits for the monsters being played.
- Add the two Jokers. These count as “null cards,” worth no points and belonging to no suit. Playing a Joker is equivalent to saying, “Pass.” (In convention terms, you’re napping in the movie room.)
Play proceeds by hands consisting of a series of “tricks.” Each hand begins when the deck is shuffled and dealt out. Each hand ends after the 12th card is played.
- Shuffle the deck and deal 12 cards to each player. The Zombie player (if any) receives the remaining two cards. Otherwise these two cards are set aside, face down.
- For the first trick, players each lay face down a card of their own suit (if possible), then reveal them simultaneously. High card wins. (Ace is low; Queen is high.) In case of a tie, repeat the procedure. Winner takes all cards played in this trick.
- For all subsequent tricks during the same hand, the player who took the previous trick leads with a card face up and all other players must follow suit, if they can. High card in the suit that led takes the trick.
- When the players’ hands are empty (the Zombie player will have two cards remaining), record scores for that hand.
- Players each receive Mob Points (representing the fans’ suspicion of them) equal to the total pips on cards they took in their own suit.
- Players who took the Jack in their own suit receive double that number of Mob Points. (The Jack represents Flash Armstrong, Ms. Delamort’s sports-superstar boyfriend, who is trying to save her from the monsters.)
- Players acquire a Stalker Point for each Queen they captured (representing how close they are to Ms. Delamort). Players who captured the Queen in their own suit gain an additional Stalker Point.
- Begin a new hand by shuffling the cards and dealing 12 to each player (with the Zombie receiving the extras, of course).
Each monster has one special ability that can be used once per hand.
- Mummy—Whirlwind: Before cards are played in a trick, the Mummy can summon a magical whirlwind to move unplayed cards around the table. The Mummy player chooses right, left, or across, and all players pass their hand in that direction. (The Zombie retains two random cards whenever this occurs.) In a three-player game, only left and right are possible, of course.
- Vampire—Mesmeric Gaze: Just before the player who won a trick (even the Vampire) collects those cards, the Vampire can choose a different player to receive it instead. (The Vampire cannot use this power to take a trick, however.)
- Werewolf—Shapeshift: When the Werewolf shifts forms, that player wins tricks only by playing the lowest card in the suit that was led, rather than the highest. The Werewolf’s can shift shape at any time during a hand—before, during, or after a trick.
- Zombie—Potency: The Zombie’s strength and durability allow that player to begin each hand with two extra cards.
To show that their ability has been used, players turn their King face down. (The Zombie is an exception.) At the beginning of each hand, all Kings are turned face up again and their power is restored.
Ending the Game
The game ends when one player accumulates 100 or more Mob Points. That monster is chased from MonsterCon by an angry mob. Any Stalker Points the player possessed are lost.
Winning the Game
The winner is the player with the most Stalker Points at the end of the game. That monster escapes with the girl during the chaos of the mob attack.
In the case of a tie between players with the highest Stalker Points, the girl escapes them while they fight a showdown battle, and the player with the next-highest total captures her instead.
If there is no monster remaining outside the showdown battle, the girl escapes with her sports-superstar boyfriend and all monsters lose.
Optional Rule: K8’s Vampire
If K8 is playing the Vampire, just before the player who won a trick collects those cards, the Vampire can choose a different player (even the Vampire) to receive it instead. The mesmeric gaze is broken if either of the players involved turns his or her currently face-up King face down. (If the Zombie is turned face down to counter the Vampire, the Zombie player loses two cards at random.)
Optional Rule: Origins 2008 Deck
If you are playing with the deck designed for Origins 2008, which has an extra King—the Marcus King—shuffle it in with the other Kings at the beginning of the game. It represents the Entity, which has the following special ability:
- Mimicry: The Entity is an alien with the power to blend in. At the beginning of each hand, after cards are dealt but before any tricks are played, the Entity chooses to mimic any one other monster in play. (Set the Marcus King card next to the mimicked monster’s card to represent this.) At the end of the hand, the Entity scores Mob Points and Stalking Points as if it were the mimicked monster.
The Entity can also mimic the power of that monster, but only after that monster has used its power. When mimicking the Zombie, the Entity can retrieve into its hand any Joker played by another player, thereby fleshing out its hand.
Five-Player Game: With the Origins Deck you can play a five-player game by using all five Kings. Deal nine cards to each player instead of 12 each turn, give the Zombie two extra, and set the remaining three cards aside, face down. The Mummy chooses one monster to be ignored when declaring “across” for the Whirlwind.
Logo: K8’s Graphics
Playtesters: Timothy Brown, Jamie Chambers, Monte Cook, Ralph Faraday, Matt Forbeck, J. Robert King, Douglas Niles, Don Perrin, Jennifer Smith, Katheryn Smith, Stephen D. Sullivan
Copyright 2009 Lester Smith. All Rights Reserved.