Steam Court is a game of Victorian hierarchy, set in a steampunk universe, where the higher your position, the greater privilege you are afforded in the game. This 4–10 player card game mixes elements of traditional card play, strategy, and character abilities.
In a world where politics, magic, and science all fit together like clockwork we find Steam Court-- a place where being able to harness steam and invent new, clever devices is prized above all else. The royal court may think they are the most powerful people in the land, but their personal court engineers hold the true power.
In Steam Court, each player is an engineer assigned to upkeep the mechanical devices of a specific member of court -- from the Queen to the lowly tea boy. Engineers at the top of the social ladder have more power and influence. Over the course of four rounds (Quarters), players try to catch the eye of the Queen by displaying their mechanical prowess. Using their dealt hands of gear cards, players try to take tricks with the ultimate goal of being the first to play all their cards. Her Royal Majesty rewards such displays of skill by snatching up the most successful engineer as her own. Can you engineer your way into the Queen’s good graces and come out on top of the social ladder by the end of the fourth Quarter? Try your hand at Steam Court.
The Royal Table
The Renegade Table (12 player expansion): Submariner, Inspector, Time Traveler, Pirate, Gambler, Vagabond
Goal: get rid of the cards in your hand before other players do. There are many strategies you can employ do this, but the most common is to be the controlling player to start the trick. The player who wins the trick starts the next trick. This allows you to decide how many cards of the same type you will play. Then all other players must match the quantity of cards played and also beat the number that is on the cards. For example, if a player lays three 1s, then the next player must lay three cards of a higher number - like three 2s or three 3s. What gives this game an extra dimension are the variable character privileges. Each Engineer is granted a different privilege by their Courtier that can be employed at the beginning of the Quarter or throughout the game. For example, the Duke can lay matching numbered cards instead of having to play higher numbered cards on a set of cards.
End of the Quarter: After everyone's cards have been played the Quarter ends and players reseat based on the order they went out in (first player out becomes the Queen, and so on). They then gain the privileges of a different character for the next Quarter.
7-10 players: When playing with a large group a new element is added to the game -- a second table full of Renegades. Players who do poorly in the Royal Court are banished to the Renegade table, while the top two engineers at the Renegade Table are promoted to the Royal Court. In Steam Court, anything can happen. The lowest of low can climb to the top, or the Queen’s engineer can wind up working for the vagabond.
We're still refining the rules a bit and right now we're finalizing some variants so check out the latest version on our website at www.steamcourt.com. There you will also find a photo gallery of behind-the-scenes shots of us working on the game!
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