Journal entry, 11/12/13. Justice Minotaur spent most of the day exulting about how thrilled he was to live to this day where the numerals representing the month, day, and year are in sequence. He also spent some time this evening in the parlor finishing the rules of a new card game he has been working on since the Apollo moon landing. Mr. Cornwall here reproduces the official game rules as Minotaur typed them this evening on his old Smith Corona.
Circles of Demise (c) by PlayTechs (R): Ye Olde Official Game Rules
The game is played with one or more decks of playing cards that are ordinary in every way except that the jacks are modified so they appear to be wearing plaid dickeys. Any number of players can play at one time, so long as none of them is still wetting the bed.
The dealer is the player who has spent the most time at sea. The dealer selects a number of cards to be dealt. This can be any prime number. The chosen number of cards are distributed so that each player has an equal number of cards; any excess of the prime quantity not distributed are put into a food processor. The remaining cards not dealt or shredded are called The Hermitage and are placed into the dealer’s front shirt pocket.
Play begins to the left* of the dealer except on Bastille Day, in which case the player to the left of the dealer is subjected to a mock beheading and replaced by her or his oldest male heir, and play then commences with the player to the left of the heir.
The player to the left (as determined in accordance with the preceding paragraph) either describes the Citizen Genet Affair or plays a card from her or his hand and states the value of the card. In the former case, if the description is determined to be accurate by an Independent Adjudicator,** in the Independent Adjudicator’s sole discretion, the player has won and the game is over. If a description is attempted and fails, in the sole discretion of the Independent Adjudicator, the player who failed at the description must drink a quart of buttermilk before dusk of the same day. If a player elects to play a card rather than describe the Citizen Genet Affair, the value to be stated is the number on the card. For face cards, the value of a jack is 11, a queen 12, a king 13, and an ace 2,695. If the value is an even number, play reverses to the opposite direction. If the number is odd, play continues in the same direction. If the value is neither even nor odd, a Universal Event*** has occurred.
The next player must play a card whose value is higher or lower than the one played immediately before. If the card value is higher, play continues in the same direction it was going. If the card value is lower, the direction of play reverses. (Here the earlier rules concerning even and odd numbers also apply, such that a higher number that is even reverses play, a higher number that is odd keeps play going in the same direction, and so forth.) If neither a higher- nor a lower-value card can be played, the player draws a card from The Hermitage. That player’s turn is then over for that round. Play continues in the same way, moving from player to player in the established direction of play.
If any two cards of a black suit or two cards of a red suit are played in sequence, the game starts over and each player must name her or his favorite Burt Reynolds film.
Players of more than one-quarter Scottish ancestry may make a motion for a writ de ventre inspiciendo against any player of any gender at any time or times during the game. The results of the inspection have no direct bearing on the game but it is thought that the threat of the writ can intimidate other players and prove a useful tool.
The winner is the player who runs out of cards first.
Alternative game ending: An alternative method of determining a winner is, at any point in the game, to tabulate the value of cards played by each player. The winner is the one with the second-most points, as in the 2004 United States presidential election.
Game cleanup: At the conclusion of the game, the cards should be scrutinized for accretion of ear wax, blue cheese, or other foreign matter. Any matter found should be removed with a cloth and mild soap or a sandblaster.
Warranty: Playing cards and card case are warranted to be fit for ordinary use in the manner outlined in the game rules. If you are not satisfied with these materials, please send your name, birthday, taxpayer identification number, mother’s maiden name, and checking account number to Dr. Brian Midnight, PO Box 29-C, Nassau, Bahamas. Please allow 6-10 years for processing.
*As players often choose to sit in a rough circle or sometimes even in more of a rectangular pattern (as when seated at a rectangular table), “left” here can be a rough approximation and does not necessarily mean on a true parallel with an imaginary plane bisecting the player into a front and a back half.
**An Independent Adjudicator is either a panel of seventeen currently serving Mormon bishops or all of the living relatives of the first, second, and third degrees of those playing the game.
***A Universal Event is one in which something occurs that is more significant than the outcome of the game itself. Examples could be a discount being offered on gym memberships or the coming to life of Corazon Aquino. If a Universal Event occurs, play is suspended until the following vernal equinox.