Based on the card game Lost Cities, adapted by
Rusty Spell, 2007
Background / Lost Cities
Minus Twenty is an adaptation of the card game Lost
Cities created by Reiner Knizia. You don't have to be at all familiar with Lost Cities to play
Minus Twenty. This background section is only provided to give credit to
the creators of that game and to let Lost Cities fans know that they can play a
version of it using a regular poker deck. If you are not familiar with
Lost Cities, you may want to skip this section and simply read the rules of
Lost Cities utilizes a unique card deck (featuring an
"exploration" theme) of five colors (or "destinations"), each color containing
cards numbered 2-10 ("expedition cards") and three special cards that serve as
multipliers ("investment cards"). Minus Twenty uses a regular four suit
poker deck, so there will be only four potential expeditions instead of five.
Remove the Jokers. You can use the Aces for the "board" if you like. Use 2-10 for the expedition cards. Use
the Jack, Queen, and King for the investment cards. Instead of dealing
eight cards for a hand, deal only seven. Every other rule is the same.
- Minus Twenty is a two player game.
- Players decide how many rounds they want to play
before the game begins. Three is a standard number of rounds for a
short game, but players may want more rounds for a longer game.
The game can also be played until one player reaches a
pre-determined number of points. A third way of playing is to score
the round then play "best two out of three rounds," "best three out of five
- One of the players will record scores on paper at
the end of each round.
- Remove the Jokers and Aces from a poker deck.
Put the Jokers away. Place the four Aces in the middle of the two
players. These cards are not used in play, but they serve as
placeholders for the discard piles and starting points for the melds
- The dealer shuffles the deck and deals both player seven
cards. These are the players' hands. The rest of the cards are
placed face down near the players. This is the draw pile.
- Refer to the visualization at the bottom of this
document if you ever get confused.
Players attempt to extend melds (a sequence of numbered
cards that increase in value) in one or more suits in order to achieve points.
At the start of these melds, players may use face cards to double, triple, or
quadruple their final scores. Each round is a series of playing and
drawing from both players until the draw pile is depleted and scores are added
Decide who plays first and then take turns. For
each player's turn, the player plays a card and then draws a card. For
playing a card, a player may begin a meld on their side of the table, extend a
meld on their side of the table, or discard. For drawing a card, a player
may draw from the discard piles or from the draw pile. These actions are
explained in more detail below.
Playing a Card
A player has the following three options for playing a
- Play a numbered card. 2-10 are the numbered cards.
There are four suits in the game (spades, clubs, diamonds, hearts) and four
potential melds for each player. Players may play a numbered card to
begin a meld or to extend an existing meld on their side of the table.
Players may only add to a meld by playing a card within the suit with a
higher number than the number previously in the meld. Cards do not
necessarily have to play in sequence (ex: 2, 3, 4, 5), as long as they
increase in value (ex: 3, 7, 8, 10). Players can start as many melds
as they want, but they do not have to start them all.
- Play a face card. The Jack, Queen, and King are the face
cards (There is no difference among them in this game:
they are considered the same kind of card and may be played in any order.)
Players may only play these cards at the start of a meld; once a numbered
card is played in the meld, face cards cannot be added. You may play
as many as you want (one, two, or three, or none) at the start of a meld.
- Discard. Play any card (numbered cards or face cards) face
up into the four discard piles, one for each suit. The four Aces from
each suit may be used as placeholders for the initial discard piles, to visually
distinguish discard piles from players' melds. It may also be helpful
to turn the discard piles horizontally while the melds run vertically.
Note that Aces are not used in actual play; they simply form the "board."
If you prefer not to use them, you don't have to.
Drawing a Card
A player has the following two options for drawing a
- Draw a card from the draw pile. Place it in your hand.
- Draw a card from the discard pile. Draw any top card from
the four discard piles and place it in your hand. A player may not draw a card that
he discarded on
End of Round / Scoring /
End of Game
- The round ends when the last card from the draw
pile is drawn. For this reason, players are allowed to count the
remaining cards in the draw pile to plan their plays.
- Each meld is scored separately and then added
together. If a meld from a suit was never begun by a player, it
receives no score.
- The "initial score" for each meld is the total
number of points from the numbered cards, minus twenty--hence the
name of the game.
- One face card in the meld doubles the initial
score. Two face cards triple and three face cards quadruple. (Just
remember that the number of face cards plus one is the value to multiply by.) If the initial score is a negative
number, then the multiplied score will also be a negative number (ex: -5
points becomes -10 points with one face card). If the meld consists
only of face cards (no numbered cards) then the initial score is -20
(because it is zero points for no numbered cards, minus twenty); the initial
score is then multiplied by the number of face cards (for a score of -40,
-60, or -80).
- If a meld contains eight or more cards (of any
kind), add a final "bonus score" of twenty points, after the multiplier.
- Note: The highest score possible for a meld is 156
points (all numbered cards and face cards played in a meld). The
lowest score possible for a meld is -80 points (only face cards played in a
- The overall score for the round is all of the
melds' scores added together.
- The entire game ends when the pre-determined
number of rounds has been finished (or when the pre-determined number of
points has been achieved). The player with the highest score wins.
Visualization / Examples of
Look at Player 2's meld for the spade
suit. He has a 5, an 8, and a 10. The total of those points are
23. Minus twenty equals 3 initial points. There are no face
cards, so 3 is the final number of points.
Look at Player 1's meld for the spade
suit. 4+3+2 = 9. Minus twenty = -11 (negative eleven) for the
initial points. There are no face cards, so -11 is the final number of
Look at Player 2's meld for the
diamond suit. 7+5+2 = 14. Minus twenty = -6 (negative six) for
the initial points. He also has a face card that multiplies the
initial score times two for a final total of -12 (negative twelve) points.
Look at Player 2's meld for the club
suit. 10+8+7+5+3+2 = 35. Minus twenty = 15 initial points.
Three face cards means quadruple the value for a total of 60 points.
Also notice that there are eight or more cards in this meld, which gives a
bonus of 20 extra points, for a grand total of 80 points.
Notice that Player 2 did not begin a
meld for the heart suit. No points will be calculated at all for this
suit. The same goes for Player 1's heart and club suits.
Look at Player 1's meld for the
diamond suit. He began a meld (with a face card) but never played any
number cards. This means that his initial score is zero minus twenty
for a score of -20 (negative twenty). The single face card multiplies
the initial score by two for a final total of -40 (negative forty).
If you add the final scores of Player
1's melds together (-11, -40), you get -51 (negative fifty-one). If you
add the final scores of Player 2's melds together (3, -12, 80) , you get 71. These scores will be added to the scores of the next round and so on until
the game is over.
Copyright (c) Apr 2007 - Mar 2009 by
Noby and Rusty's