Minus Twenty
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 Minus Twenty.

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. 



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 up.

The Turn

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 card.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 card.

  1. Draw a card from the draw pile.  Place it in your hand.
  2. 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 this turn.

End of Round / Scoring / End of Game

Visualization / Examples of End-of-Round Scoring

Copyright (c) Apr 2007 - Mar 2009 by Noby and Rusty's Games