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I've been doing some reading on the history of the Tarot deck, and I love the complexity of the suits (wands, pentacles) and the trumps (The World, Wheel of Fortune), but every game that uses this deck seems to be a basic trick taking game! (e.g. French tarot, tarock and tarocchi)

Surely a deck with so much fantasy potential (I'm coming from a Magic the Gathering background) would have some amazing games that use the actual meaning of the trumps in the game, not just their numbers. Has anyone heard of a game like this?

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In Gnostica players have a hand of cards from a Tarrot deck, which also doubles as the game's board, and a stash of icehouse pieces per player. It is a territorial game where players try to outmaneuver each other in order to occupy high scoring cards.

The trumps (or "Major Arcana") have powers which are related to the card. Here are some of the clearer relations:

  • Chariot - Make two moves;
  • Strength - Take two grow actions;
  • Hermit - Move something to an unoccupied space;
  • World - Use the power of any trump that forms part of the playing field.

You can see the rest of the trump powers in the full rules under "Major arcana powers".

Gnostica is based on Zarcana, replacing the standard deck of playing cards with tarrot cards, and adding in the interesting powers along the way. It is also similar to Dectana which uses the Decktet (a deck of cards inspired by tarrot cards).

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The old Macintosh computer game "Fool's Errand" contained a fun game within it that used the tarot trumps. During the adventure, at one point you'd encounter an old man and you would have to play this game against him and win. It was especially difficult because at first you didn't know the rules! You'd have to play it over and over until you started to deduce which cards were worth points in combination with each other. Finally you'd be able to beat him.

Even knowing the rules, I still think it would be a fun game for two human players:

http://everything2.com/user/m_turner/writeups/Wheel+of+Fortune

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