OBJECTIVE OF ZETEMA: The objective of Zetema is to reach a set point total by playing the hands of cards and crafting melds and combinations of cards to acquire points.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  2-6 players

MATERIALS: A modified 65 card deck and a flat surface. I also recommend a pen and paper to keep track of scores.

TYPE OF GAME: Traditional Card Game 



Zetema is a game originally invented in 1871 but has since been revamped and modernized, while still holding its Victorian-era charm. The game itself is not overly difficult to learn but does require a strategic mind to master. 

The goal of Zetema is to score 300 points in a 2-3 player game and 200 points in a 4-6 player game. You achieve this by playing out cards of certain suite and number to score points. These points are discussed below in the plays and scoring section. 

Zetema can be played in partnerships or individually; if played in partnerships each partner still has their own hands, but points scored are accumulated as one score. 


To setup Zetema you will need to modify a traditional 52 card deck. To do this you will need an additional deck of cards and will remove a full suite of one type (most people suggest spades though it has no bearing on the game). These 13 cards will be added to the other full 52 card deck to make a modified 65 card deck which can be used for the game.

Once the deck is made it will need to be shuffled and hands will be dealt. In 2-5 player games, the hand size is 6 cards. In a 6-player game, the hand size is reduced to 5 cards. The hands should be dealt to players randomly one card at a time till hand size is reached. The remaining cards go into a draw pile nearby.

At the start of the game, there will be no cards in it but there should be room designated to the tableau. The tableau will be made of 13 piles one for each rank of card and all cards discarded there should be skewed so all cards are visible.  


The gameplay for Zetema is very simple. On each players’ turn, the will do the following three steps in order. First, they will draw up as many cards as needed to reach their hand size. Then they can, but are not required to, play one meld or combination of cards to score points. Finally, they will discard a card to the tableau. If you played a hand of cards you will discard one card from that. This will continue for each players’ turn until the draw pile is exhausted or the end of the game.

Plays and Scoring

There are several play types in Zetema these contain combinations of hands, assemblies of cards, and marriages of cards. There are also Zetemas, that will be discussed below. Each play has a different point value below are some tables to show what type of play gets you what points.

Combinations of cards

Name of PlayCards NeededPoint Value
MarriageA king and Queen of the same suitSee Marriages
Flush6 (or 5) cards of the same suit30
Sequence 6 (or 5) cards in numerical order10
Flush Sequence6 (or 5) cards of the same suit in numerical order50
Assembly 5 cards of the same rankSee Assemblies 

When you play a combination of cards out you will show the hand to your opponents then write down your achieved Score. After this, you will discard one of the cards played into the tableau. Special rules apply for marriages so see them below.

Assemblies of cards

Assembly TypePoint Value
Jacks 120
All other card ranks100

Marriages of cards

Number of Marriages AchievedPoint Value

To score points on the table above you will need to declare marriages at once. To do this you must have at least one card to play to a marriage in your hand; the rest can be from the tableau. If you score the second marriage of the duplicate suit it is worth an extra 10 points. It has already been added to the chart above for 5 marriages though. When you declare marriages, you will show the card(s) from your hand to your opponents and declare the cards from the tableau as well. Then all cards are removed and placed in a special marriage pile That is not part of the tableau.


When a player discards their card for the turn if it is the fifth one of its rank, they have scored a Zetema. After a Zetema is scored the cards are taken from the tableau and turned facedown. They cannot be used in hands. 

Zetema TypePoint Value
All other ranks of cards5

Empty Draw Pile

When the draw pile has been emptied the game continues but differently. Players will not be able to draw cards at the start of their turn and instead discard cards to the tableau to score Zetemas. In a two-person game when a Zetema is scored the player who scored must also discard another card until the discarded card does not complete a Zetema. Once the targeted score is reached the game ends immediately.


The game ends once the needed score is achieved, even if in the middle of a hand. The winner is the person or group to achieve the score first.

Nakoa Davis