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Cripple Mr Onion was originally a fictional card game played in Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series of books. It involves 8 suits of 13 cards each (with the suits being paired to one another), hands of 10 cards each (without replacement), and elements of blackjack and poker. 2-7 people may play. Synonym suggestion: Cripple Mister Onion


The complete rules and design of this game were posted on USENET around 1993 and were approved by Pratchett himself.

Basic definitions

The game requires an eight-suited card deck, with suits representing the eight Minor Arcana suits of a Discworld Tarot, or "Caroc" deck: the staves, swords, cups, and coins of real-world Tarot plus four additional suits named for octograms, elephants, terrapins and crowns. For the purposes of flushes, each of the real-world suits is paired with one of the four Discworld suits (a commercially available deck marketed for use in the game includes axes, tridents, roses and doves as suits to be paired, respectively, with the more traditional clubs, spades, hearts and diamonds). For real-world play, two distinctive but identically-backed "normal" decks are generally used, most frequently a traditional "French" deck and an identically-backed Latin-suited deck.

Each player receives a hand of ten cards: five cards are dealt face-down to each player, and the player may then discard up to four of them, receiving new cards to replace them. Then a further five cards are dealt face-up to each player except the dealer, who receives his face-down. The first player begins by assembling his or her cards into one of the winning groupings described below, and displaying them. The next player must then create a more valuable grouping or fold. If the player is successful in creating a more valuable grouping, the original first player may try again to create an even more valuable grouping for himself, or fold. This process passes left around the table until only one player remains, who then wins the hand.

The categories of winning group, in ascending order of value, are as follows. Number cards are worth their face value, picture cards are worth ten, and aces are worth one or eleven at the player's choice (a la Blackjack).

There are eleven "modifiers" that may also be played to increase the value of a hand. Apart from the "crippling" modifier, they are optional rules, hence might or might not be included in any given game.

What questions should have this tag?

Cripple Mr Onion questions regarding any aspect of the game, at any level, are welcome. For questions about specific 10-card hands, an abbreviated annotation is extremely useful.

Important links

A good example of the complete ruleset can be found at the following URL: http://www.justforests.org/custom/public/files/cripple-mr-onion.pdf

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