OBJECTIVE OF TRIATHLON: Have the highest score at the end of the game
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 39 cards
RANK OF CARDS: (low) 6 – Ace (high)
TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking
INTRODUCTION OF TRIATHLON
Triathlon is an interesting trick taker for 3 players designed by David Parlett. This game uses a modified deck and three Jokers. Players try to capture tricks while at the same time accomplish certain feats. Bonus points are awarded for accomplishing the feats, and the end of the game is triggered once a player has accomplished all three.
David has done a fine job taking traditional trick-taking gameplay and forcing players to really think about how many tricks they take as well as how they take them.
THE CARDS & THE DEAL
Triathlon uses a 39 card deck that includes 6’s-Aces in all four suits as well as three Jokers. Deal 13 cards to each player.
To determine which suit is trump for the round, the player left of the dealer decides one suit that will not be trump. For example, they might say not spades. The next player does the same. The dealer then picks one of the two remaining suits to be trump.
THE FIRST TRICK
Player left of dealer begins the trick with any card from their hand. Following players match the suit if they can or else play any card. The highest ranking card in the lead suit or the highest ranking trump card wins the trick.
The trick-winner leads the next trick, and play continues until the last trick is captured. After tallying up the score, deal passes left. Continue playing rounds until the end-game conditions have been met.
ENDING THE GAME
The game ends when one of the players has accomplished all three feats at least once. See the scoring section for details regarding the feats.
If a player leads the trick with a Joker, the other players can play any card they wish. The lead Joker takes the trick. A Joker can only win the trick if it is led.
Players earn 1 point for each trick captured. Points are also earned for accomplishing the following feats:
Feat 1: A 10 point bonus is awarded if the player captures a number of tricks that is multiple of three (3, 6, 9 or 12).
Feat 2: 10 points are awarded to the player who takes the last trick.
Feat 3: 10 points are also awarded to the player who captures the middle amount of tricks or the amount that differs from the other two. For example, if the trick amounts captured are 3, 4, and 6, the player who captures 4 earns the bonus. If two players capture 6 and one player captures 1 trick, the player who captures 1 trick earns the bonus.
If nobody wins a multiple of three tricks, the player who earned the middle bonus earns 20 points instead of 10.
If a player accomplishes all three feats in one round, they earn an additional 100 points.
The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Click here for more interesting games from David Parlett.