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Mythic Challenge: The Card Game

| Published: 2020
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THE THEME: The Mythic Kingdoms is a fantasy world where the Orcs (clubs), Elves (hearts), Dwarves (diamonds) and Undead (spades) hold tournaments to compete in challenges of strength, skill, wit, and strategy.

MATERIALS NEEDED: Any standard deck of playing cards (or 2 decks for 3-8 players). Paper and pen for scoring if you want to play multiple rounds.

OBJECTIVE: Win Points by Winning Challenges

PLAYERS: 2-4 (Teams: 4,6,8) SUGGESTED AGE: 13+ (also works for ages 8+)

Basic Rules

OVERVIEW: The game is played as a series of “challenges” or rounds where you try to have the highest total score in your field of played cards. You continue to play cards in front of your (within your field), adding the values of your cards, until there is a winner of the challenge. Soldier cards (numbers 2-10) are worth their specific number of points (2-10), all royalty and champions (JQKA) are worth 10 points, and Jokers are worth 0 (zero) points. You win a challenge if at the start of your turn, the total score of the played cards in your field is higher than any other player’s score.

SETUP: If playing with 2 decks (for 3-4 players), remove all the number cards 2-4 prior to playing. Shuffle and deal 10 cards to each player.

FIRST PLAYER: Player to the left of the dealer (rotate dealer each game).


  1. Check to see if you have won the current challenge (see “Winning a Challenge” below).
  2. Draw a card or Play a card. If you cannot or choose not to play a card, you must draw a card.
  3. If you draw a card, and that card is playable, you may immediately play the drawn card.

WINNING A CHALLENGE: You are the winner of a challenge (or round) if at the start of your turn, the total score of the cards in your field are higher than any other player’s score. It does not matter who started the challenge. If you win a challenge, collect all played cards (from all fields) and put them in your point pile (set them aside and keep them safe).

STARTING A CHALLENGE: A player starts a challenge by being the first player to play a non-Joker. When starting a challenge, be creative and throw down the gauntlet. Say “The Mad Jack challenges you to a hot dog eating contest” or “The Queen of Hearts challenges you to a game of blind checkers.” You can make up any challenge you want to. Be creative and humorous with your challenges to add fun to the game.

ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE: The next player(s) may play any card other than a suit already played. Jokers are special and can be played with any suit.

During the challenge, each player can only play additional cards by following the suit of the card they have already played. For example, if you have a Spade in your field, your next played cards can only be Spades (and/or Jokers). If something happens to cause all your Spades to leave your field, you can join the challenge again with any valid suit.

EXAMPLE CHALLENGE: (2 player game)

  • Katie leads the challenge with 8 skeleton soldiers (an 8♠ for a total of 8 points), challenging her opponent to a contest of synchronized yoga poses.
  • Jeff plays the elf king (K♥ for a total of 10 points).
  • Katie is not currently the winner, so she plays 3 more soldiers (3♠ for a total of 8+3=11 points).
  • Jeff is not currently the winner, so he plays 4 elf warriors (4♥ for a total of 10+4=14 points).
  • Katie does not have any more undead (spades), so she draws a card.
  • At the start of Player 2’s turn, he has the highest current score (14 to 11), so he wins the challenge and collects the played cards (from both fields) and puts them in his point pile.

JOKERS: A Joker is not associated with any suit. It may be played by itself or simultaneously with other playable cards. If playing with only the basic rules, remove the Jokers from the game.

END OF GAME: The game ends when a player is unable to play a card and there is no card to draw. (If there are no cards to draw, a player is forced to play a card if it is possible for them to play a card). The player with the highest challenge score wins the final challenge. All cards in players’ hands should be set aside out of play. The cards left in your hand do not count against you. If the last challenge was a tie, set the played cards out of play. Then, start counting up your points using one of the scoring methods below. If you want to play multiple rounds, keep a running total of the score.

Scoring Method 1 (Count ‘em): The easiest way to determine the final score is by counting the number of cards in your point pile.

Scoring Method 2 (Add ‘em up): To add an extra level of strategy to the game, determine your final score by adding up the value of the cards in your point pile.

Special Rules

It may help to play a game first without any special rules. Remove the jokers if playing only with the basic rules.

The Champion’s Arrival: If an Ace is played, all other players’ soldiers (number cards) flee in fear and return to their players’ hands. Soldiers CAN be played on later turns.

The Queen’s Edict: After a Queen is played, only soldiers and other Queens and jokers may be played while the Queen is present in the challenge. This affects all players.

The King’s Charge: After you play a King, you may play up to two soldier cards (number cards) during each of your next turns until the challenge is over.

The Jack’s Trick: Playing a Jack allows you to immediately take one soldier from any field and place that card in your point pile.

The Fairy’s Protection: Playing the Fairy (green joker) protects your cards from the negative effects of other special rules. You may continue to use the special abilities of the cards played in your field.

The Imp’s Magical Joke: Playing the Imp (purple joker) cancels all special rules for the rest of the current challenge, unless a second Imp is played which cancels only the effect of the first Imp.

Team Challenge

Playing as teams can allow more players and more interaction each turn. Players sit across from each other (rotation A,B,C,A,B,C for 6 players or A,B,C,D,A,B,C,D for 8 players). Use two decks and do not remove any number cards from the game.


  • After a team member has played a card, their team member(s) must follow suit and play their cards on top of their team’s challenge pile (the field in front of the team member who first plays a card).
  • Special rules apply to the team as a whole.
  • If an Ace is played, soldier cards are returned to the hand of the player that is controlling their team’s challenge pile.
  • The challenge can only be won by the player who is controlling their team’s cards. Points are shared by the team and it doesn’t matter which team member stores the points.

EXAMPLE TEAM GAME: In this 4-player game, Ann is teamed with Alf and Bob is teamed with Bree.

  • Ann (Player 1) challenges the other team to aggressive sneezing with an 8♠ (how does a skeleton sneeze?). [A team score = 8]
  • Bob (Player 2) accepts the challenge with a 5♥. [B team score = 5]
  • Alf is unable to play a card, but draws a K♠ and plays it on the challenge pile in front of Ann. [A team score = 18]
  • Bree knows that her team needs at least 13 points to continue, so plays a J♥, taking the A team’s 8♠ and adding it to her point pile. [A team score = 10, B team score = 15 points]
  • Ann is unable to play a card, so draws a card.
  • At the beginning of Bob’s turn, the challenge pile in front of him has the highest score, so B team wins the challenge and Bob continues with this turn.


  • Special rules can modify the basic rules. Default to the basic rules if there is a question, or decide as a group how to handle the situation and continue to play.
  • If you have already played a Fairy and then you play an Imp, you do not need to cancel the special rules of your own cards.
  • You can draw a card even if you have a card you can play. You can play a card even if you drew a card the previous turn.
  • If nobody has played a card by the time it is your turn, you win the challenge and place your played card(s) in your point pile.
  • Cards can be played in any order. For example, you could play a 2 and then a Jack and then a 5 and then a 3.
  • If playing with a normal deck of cards, jokers can be fairies or imps, so decide as a group what the jokers will represent. If you have decks with different backs, you can use the back of the joker cards to distinguish fairies from imps.
  • On your turn, if you (and your team) currently do not have any cards in play, you can play any valid card, no matter what you may have played in previous turns. This may happen if somebody plays an Ace or a Jack.
  • With 3-5 players (playing with 2 decks), there are too many cards that do you no good and result in too much drawing, so remove numbered cards 2-4 prior to playing with 2 decks (unless you are playing as teams).
  • If you have played a King, and on your next turn you decide to draw instead of playing a soldier card, if the card you drew is a soldier card of the correct suit, you may play BOTH of your valid soldier cards. (This is a strategy to consider if the card in your hand is not sufficient to tie or gain advantage during the challenge).


A game needs to have a clear definition, but during play testing, you may want to experiment with other ideas and rule variations. For example, you could modify the special rule for the Ace so that if you have already played a champion (Ace), your soldiers do not flee at the arrival of another champion (Ace). Here are some other ideas provided by @theboardcritic:

The Fear of the Champion: When an Ace is played, the score of the current challenge is reset to zero. All played cards other than Aces are too scared to continue to support the challenge but remain in the field. Turn those cards over to indicate that they do not contribute to the challenge score and their special abilities are no longer active.

The King’s Cohort: After you play a King, you may play one extra playable card, and you may also use that card’s special ability.

The Sour Joker: When a joker is played, it turns all of the points for the round negative, so whoever wins the round collects the cards and places them in a separate stack in their point area with the joker on top to remind them that the points are negative at the end of the game.

User Reviews (1)

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Platinum Supporter
Mythic Kingdoms Backer 2020
I play blue
9 of 10 gamers found this helpful
“More than Your Traditional Card Game”

I designed this game based on the theme for our new illustrated playing cards. We came up with the idea for a new fantasy world where the characters in that world were fans of games. They would meet together in tournaments to play board games, card games, sparring matches, and mock battles. This is the theme within which Greg illustrated the characters.

Instead of creating a card game that was really only designed to play a single game, we wanted a custom set of playing cards that would add a special layer of fun to the traditional card games that our families enjoy playing together.

This game was play tested by my own family and friends before we even got a prototype set of cards created. Even then, the game was fun, but playing with the actual cards is definitely better.

Some people have found that they prefer just the basic rules. My family prefers including the special rules. We also prefer the team rules over playing individually.

I was inspired by many different games when coming up with this one: War, Loot, Hearts, Spades, Skull King, Magic the Gathering, Team Canasta

Ultimately my thought process was this:
(1) Multiplayer War makes sense for this theme, but I hate the pure randomness of the game War. So, how about applying the mechanic used in the game Loot where you only win the cards if at the start of your turn you have the higher score and like in Loot, you can only stack more cards of the same color (i.e. suit).
(2) Let’s call each round a “Challenge” in keeping with the theme of the tournament. Plus, it would be fun to make up what the challenge actually is.
(3) Having recently played Skull King, I liked the idea of having some special rules beyond a typical trick taking game. So, hope about giving each court card it’s own special ability. It was then just a matter of thinking about the theme to come up with special abilities that might make sense in the context of these characters making challenges to the other contestants.
(4) The Jokers need to be something a little different, but instead of making them all powerful, what if they are only like support units without adding to the challenge score.
(5) I have more than 4 people in my family so there needed to be a way to play this in teams, so we play tested a few times until we figured out a simple way to make it work for teams (team canasta was the inspiration). If only there was a good way to play with 7 people (have not figured that one out yet).


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