I like battle cards games but the cost of buying the cards and then possibly having no one to play with has never been an attractive option for me so I have created a battle card game that anyone can play with a regular deck of cards. Royals is a battle card game for 2 or more players and can be scaled up quite easily. The only things you need are a deck (or decks) of regular playing cards and the desire to do battle!
It is a simple game to learn and can be quite fun. There are elements of both strategy and luck involved so you'll never know how a game will turn out.
This game is open source and cannot be encumbered in any way nor may it be used or produced commercially without my express consent.
Edit (July 9, 2018): I've been playing this and have come across a few things that needed changing. This instructable will always have the latest changes and additions as well as the downloadable rules. The date beside the Edit will show when the last change was done so you know how current your rules are.
There are two ways to play this depending on your cards. One is to play offence by playing lower cards than the next player so that you are "following" them, thereby giving yourself a chance to attack if you get the right cards. The downside to this method is that it also leaves you open to attack. The second method is defensive by playing higher cards so that you are "leading", thereby trying to make it harder to attack you. The downside to this is that you probably can't attack unless you get a special card.
One deck of cards (with Jokers) for every three players or portion of three players.
Example: 1-3 players--one deck
4-6 players--two decks
7-9 players--three decks
10-12 players--four decks
Step 1: Start Up
Each player has a King, Queen, and Jack placed face up in front of them. These are their Royals.
The remaining royals are placed in the deck and considered wild.
The cards numbered two to ten are the values of the armies and one army is made up of one or more points cards. The total value of these cards on the table in front of the player are the total value of their army.
The suit of the cards have no meaning except for the special Ace cards.
Step 2: Dealing
The dealer of the first round is chosen in any manner that you may wish. After that the dealer is the winner of the last game. Once the cards are dealt the dealer starts by playing the first card. The object of the dealer going first is that it makes the dealer more vulnerable to attack and takes away any advantage a dealer may have.
Each player is dealt five cards for their hand.
Once there are no more cards in the draw pile the discard pile is shuffled and placed in the draw pile.
Step 3: Playing
Playing order is clockwise unless altered by a wild royal card. In this example player A would go first (and attack player C if possible), then player C would go (and attack player B if possible), then B would go (and attack player A if possible).
A royal card in the deck is considered wild and if picked up it must be played immediately and it reverses playing order. If there are only two players then the royal causes the other player to miss a turn. If a royal card was dealt in the original hand it can be held and played at any time.
Cards are picked up to replenish the player's hand to five cards AFTER they have played. If a wild royal or the second joker to make a pair is picked up then they must be played immediately but the player cannot replenish their hand. They must wait until their next turn.
If a player forgets to pick up cards in one turn they can pick up enough cards to fill their hand at the end of their next turn.
A player must play a card on their turn before any attack can be made. They can do this by placing one army card (two to ten) face up in front of their Royals (towards the middle of the table) or by playing one special card. No one may pass their turn.
Step 4: Attacking
To defeat an opponent, the player's army total count, on the turn it is played, must be exactly one point higher than an opponent's. For example, if your opponent has a three and you have a four, you win the battle. The cards can be of any suit.
In this example Player A plays a 3.
Player C plays a 2. Player A cannot attack Player C because it is not Player A's turn. Since the 3 is an existing card the only way it can be used in an attack during Player A's turn is when another army card is added to it to bring the total army count up to one more than the opponent. (Unless a special card is used)
Player B plays a 4 and since it is exactly one point higher than Player A and the play order is clockwise on this turn, this is a successful attack.
When an attack is made, all armies and any special cards involved in the attack are placed in the discard pile. The losing player loses a Royal by turning it face down. The Royal is still kept in front of that player. Since Player C was not in the attack they keep their army.
Step 5: Winning
A player wins when all opponents lose all of their Royals. If there are more than two players, the Royals remain on the table. In this example Player A has lost and Players C and B are still battling.
Step 6: Special Cards
Special cards can be used against any player on the table. Playing order has no effect with these cards.
Any time a special card is played it is placed in the discard pile along with whatever armies it affects.
Jokers and Aces are special cards.
Step 7: Single Joker
If a player has one Joker it does not need to be played immediately nor can it be played unless there is at least one army belonging to any player on the table.
If played this card eliminates all armies placed on the table. No player loses a Royal card.
Step 8: Two Jokers
If a single player has two Jokers then they must be played immediately and all armies on the table are wiped out, including the player's own if they have any.
Each player who has an army wiped out also loses a Royal card. Even though Player C played the double joker, Player C lost a Royal as well because they had an army. Player B did not suffer any effect because they didn't have an army.
Step 9: Aces
The Aces can be held in the hand and played at any time. The player must have an army in front of them to use an ace as the army is sacrificed as well. The only exception is the Ace of Spades depending on the option.
Step 10: Ace of Clubs
Ace of clubs - Think of this card as a big club. This card will eliminate your army as well as an opponent's army of your choosing. The opponent also loses a Royal card.
Player A has a ten, Player B has a six, and Player B has a three. Player A cannot attack because they are higher in point value but if Player A has the Ace of Clubs the point value does not matter and Player A can choose who to attack, Player C or Player B.
Player A decides to attack Player B and wins the battle. Player B loses a Royal.
Step 11: Ace of Diamonds
Ace of diamonds - Think of this as a diamond cutting glass. It allows you to split your army into two groups if you have more than two cards in your army, so that you may attack another player. The opponent's army total (whether one or more cards) cannot be split and must be one point lower than your split army. The opponent loses a Royal card.
Player A has a four,a three, and a two. Player B has five points total. Player A cannot attack because they are four points higher.
If Player A uses the Ace of Diamonds they can split their armies into two groups, the four and the two, and the three. Player A uses the four and two (six total) to beat the Player C's five.
Player A discards the attacking armies and keeps the three in front of them. Player C loses a Royal. Note: The Ace of Diamonds cannot be used to split an opponent's army.
Special Rule: The Ace of Diamonds when used to split an army may attack two players if each of the split armies equals one point more than the opposing armies they are attacking but the player who split must sacrifice one of their own Royals. For example, if Player A has a four and a five in front of them, Player B has three, and Player C has four, normally Player A can split and only attack one player. But with this rule Player A can split and attack both B (Player A's four against Player B's three) and C (Player A's five against player Player C's four). Player B loses a Royal, Player C loses a Royal, and Player C loses a Royal.
Step 12: Ace of Hearts
Ace of hearts - This is a beating heart. It allows you you to regenerate Royal as long as you have an army to sacrifice. Turn one of your lost Royal cards face up.
Player A has lost a Royal and they have an army in front of them.
Player A uses the Ace of Hearts to destroy their own army and resurrect a Royal on their turn. The Ace of Hearts cannot be used to resurrect an opponent's Royal.
Step 13: Ace of Spades
Ace of spades - One for one card. This is the only special card that doesn't need an army to play, unless it's used to attack another army. Both the attacker and one opponent must suffer the same effect.
-Resurrect one of your own and one opponent's royals. Players who have lost all of their royals may have a royal resurrected but on that player's turn they pick up five cards but cannot play until their next turn.
-Lose one of your own and one opponent's Royals.
-Destroy your army as well as one opponent's army.
-Discard all of the cards in your hand as well as one opponent's hand.
-Swap cards with an opponent, whether your full hand or cards already on the table.
-Split your armies as well as an opponent's armies so that you have an army that is one point more than one of your opponent's split ones. You and the opponent both need to have more then one card in each of your armies to do this. An attack is made but both players lose a Royal.
Step 14: Optional Rules
Optional rules: The Ace of Diamonds when used to split an army may attack two players if each of the split armies equals one point more than the opposing armies they are attacking but the player who split must sacrifice one of their own Royals. For example, if Player A has a four and a five in front of them, Player B has three, and Player C has four, normally Player A can split and only attack one player. But with this rule Player A can split and attack both B (Player A's four against Player B's three) and C (Player A's five against player Player C's four). Player B loses a Royal, Player C loses a Royal, and Player C loses a Royal.