“Rules? We don’t need no stinking rules”.. 

This is a creative game so you can change the rules to be how you “see” them.  These “rules” are more like suggestions than hard and fast rules you must follow.  The only hard and fast rule is to agree on rules of play or variations before you start. If you cannot decide, you can cite these as official.   At a minimum,  you shall decide:

    1. Decide how you will settle disputes.  The most effective is generally a rotating judge where, during each hand, someone sits out and is the judge for disputes. The second alternative is having players not involved in the dispute vote, which can work well when there are enough players and if using a relative theme (e.g. cards do battle) as only 2 players are directly involved.  One way which can be helpful for 2 player games is to use random selection (draw a card), thumb-wars, rock-paper-scissors, or even laughter makes it right.
    2. Does interpretation of the inkblot require interpreting the whole card or can it use just part of the inkblot.  Allowing just a part is easier.
    3. Choose a mode of play as described below (or your own).
    4. If there is a theme and if the story can be fantasy or if it must be believable/realistic.
    5. How long do people have to play a card. We recommend 90 seconds, but when you begin you might want longer.
    6. Decide if a game is one hand or until a player reaches a specific number of points. If using point-based games you will need pen/paper to keep track and need to decide how many points in the “game.”  25 points with 4 people yields 15-20 min games for moderately creative and talkative people. More creative people continue the story more often so games go longer. More people generally decrease time for the game as its more likely that Point Cards will be played which adds points and helps players go out faster. (Though more laughter can result in slower play too 😉

Six Modes of play

Point Play (The “normal” game)

  • In Point Play, you score points when the saying on your Point Card matches the conversation. When it does, place it in front of you to score. Some cards score multiples so use a score pad to keep track. Leading the story or asking questions to score is encouraged.
  • Before dealing, agree on the story theme, if any, for the hand. A global theme limits a card’s interpretation, e.g. animal stories. A relative theme related between cards, e.g. a character that defeats the previous one in battle.
  • Deal each player 4 Point Cards (the cards with sayings) and 4 Suit Cards. The player to the left of the dealer starts the story and play continues clockwise.
  • Each player expands the story with a card whose inkblot they relate to the story element of the last card while staying within the theme.
  • Players can use either type of card to build on the story within the theme. A general strategy is to try and save Point Cards as long as possible since it gives the player more opportunities to score points.
  • If a player cannot continue the story or their play is ruled invalid, they are frozen for the round – they keep their points but can score and play no more.
  • When there is a dispute about play validity, resolve it via a designated judge or uninvolved players.  It may help to reorient the card for the judge and to point out the sub-part of drawing.
  • Play continue until no one can play or someone goes out (plays all their cards). The player that goes out first, or is last to play, gets 10 points.
  • Game is the first person to 30 points (or any value decided by the players).

Story Play

  • In Story Play, the goal is to creatively, yet orderly,  extend a collective story. There is no scoring, so you ignore the card values or point card points. Everyone gets involved in the story.
  • Before dealing, agree on the story theme (if any). A global theme limits a card’s interpretation, e.g. animal stories, or a group goal. A relative theme related between cards, e.g. a character that defeats the previous one in battle.
  • Deal 7 cards to each player. The player to the left of the dealer starts the story and play continues clockwise. Each player expands the story relating their card’s drawing to the story of the last card while staying within the theme.
  • If a play is ruled invalid, or players take too long, they draw an additional card.
  • When there is a dispute about play validity, resolve it via a designated judge or uninvolved players. It may help to reorient the card for the judge and to point out the sub-part of drawing.
  • Winner (if you feel the need to have one)  is the first person to go out.

Gestour (Best) Play

  • This is a mode for larger groups especially in loud parties where it may be too hard to hear everything for Point Play or when there are so many players it takes too long between turns.
  • Decide if there will be one story per hand, or one per round. Choose a theme, if any, for the hand.
  • Deal each player 5 cards.  If you have less than 5 people or want longer games, use more cards.
  • The person to the left of the dealer starts. They are the Gestour. (Gestour means a reciter of gests or legendary tales). The Gestour plays a card  from their hand, and  an at-most 3-word description of what they see in the card.
  • The remaining players pick a card and place it either face up in front of them. If playing without a table,  players keep the card in their hand, but turn it around to face the Gestour.  Note players show their cards before they get to know the full story of the Gestour’s card.
  • The Gestour then tells the full story of the card they (the Gestour) played.  They then give their definition of how they will determine “best”.   This can be the funniest reply to the story they begin, the most creative, most appropriate, most inappropriate, most believable, most fanciful,  most likely to defeat the Gestour’s character, most likely to be romantically interesting to the Gestour’s character, etc. In this game the Gestour is the undisputed “judge”.
  • If you like crazy noisy games, then you can use an optional free for all periods to allow everyone to talk at once within 30 seconds to try to convince the Gestour that their story is the best.
  • The Gestour  then picks individuals, in any order they choose, and holds up their card for all to see. The selected person has 15 seconds to tell how their card expands the Gestour’s story (within theme if any).   The Gestour can ask whatever questions about the card/story (which may take more than 15 seconds).  The Gestour either accepts the card (image+story)  as the best so far or discards it.  If a player takes too long to respond  they are skipped.  A selected player can also pass their turn to particular a player, forcing the Gestour to call on that player instead.
  • Players should always extend from the Gestour’s original card/story, not the last play or “best” card. This allows everyone to have thought through their answer and hence for rapid interpretations. If a player forgets and instead tries to extend the story of the previous card, cut them off from the bar and discard their play.
  • The player who provided the selected “best” card becomes the new Gestour. Each player other than the new/old Gestours draws a card to replace their failed/discarded play. If the draw pile is empty, reshuffle the discard pile and reuse it.
  • The new Gestour, chooses a card from their hand and starts a new round.  This player can play a continuing story, or can start a totally new story.
  • First player out of cards wins the hand.
  • Gestour Play can also be mixed with point play. In competition point play, one is never frozen out of play. The person who goes out of cards gets 5 points and then the person with the most points wins.

Ideation Play

  • In Ideation Play, the story play relates to a given problem or its solution. The play can be anything about the problem, stakeholders, resources, constraints or solutions or subset of those per hand. You can improve creativity by mixing in other innovation tools, e.g. interpret cards while applying a “thinking hat” to the problem:
    • Blue Hat – Process
    • White Hat – Facts
    • Green Hat – Creativity
    • Yellow Hat – Benefits
    • Black Hat – Cautions
    • Red Hat – Feelings
  • Deal 5 cards to each player — unless you are playing alone then take 10-20 cards and play them.  (You want a long enough story to explore each aspect of the problem.
  • Each player expands the story with a card whose inkblot they relate to the story element of the last card while staying within the theme. The stories can be quite fanciful or imaginative, no need to be literal in the problem space.
  • All play is valid (no judging or being critical).
  • Each player should take notes on the evolving story, or you can have the a dedicated note-taker for a hand.
  • After the hand (or a few if working on pieces), go back to your notes and try to relate the ideas to actual practical solutions/strategies. Make sure to ask what the players’ subconscious saw for that particular item, how they connected things the way they did, and how it relates to a potentially unspoken assumption about the problem.
  • The real winner is the person whose problem you solve.

Quick Start/First Play — playing your first hand/game

It might seem non-intuitive but the theory of priming as well as experience from play testing has shown that it’s easier to play with a basic theme than just tell a continuing theory. If there is nothing to prime the imagination, people don’t see as much in the cards.   Once you set a theme you will see relevant things in the cards. Easy games include the themes of aliens,  animals, or dreams, and we suggest that for your first round to use one of these. Another easy theme is that all plays must be a character of some kind, and all plays must defeat the previous one  (or help the previous one). Once you get comfortable playing you can go for more challenging themes as in the expansion deck. Here are the rules we suggest for your first hands or with new players — this style is simple and gives players a chance to quickly see what other see in the cards.  First Play is a valid mode of play any time, but we find it gives too much advantage to faster/creative types, which limits its value after learning. Here are the steps:

Before dealing agree on the story theme for the hand. Choose a simple theme such as aliens, animals, dreams or character battles. Themes prime the mind making it easier to see things. Each play expands the story, relating the card’s inkblot to the last card while staying within the theme.

The dealer is the judge and does not play the hand.  The judge resolves disputes and can ask questions. It may help to rotate the card so the judge sees it from your view. It is okay to use only parts of the inkblot but explicitly point out the parts of the card being used. If a play is rejected the player trades in that card.

Deal 4 cards to each player. The player to the left of the dealer starts. After the initial card is played, players go  in any order — so anyone who sees things can play; first card placed on the previous card after the previous play ends  gets to tell their story, but no one can play two cards in a row.

Winner is the first person to play all their cards.

 Twisted Play

  • In Twisted Play, you adapt classic card games, using the Suit Cards (52 cards only) to include RoarStack stories which can make a card “wild.” As in other games, agree on the story theme if any. You should also agree on how many “wild” cards to allow. You can allow/add  “points” cards as side points.
  • In Roaring Wild West Poker or Roaring Rummy, you add story-based wildcards, e.g. a pair can be 3-of-a-kind by a telling a themed story that connects both of a pair of  inkblots to the 3rd card’s inkblot.
  • In Roaring Eights, you can play any card by telling a themed story that relates the play to the top card. Before playing the Roaring wild card, the player asks for the story of the top card and then extends it.
  • In RoarWar, you can use just suit cards (2 players) or add point cards which are numbers of their points. Play like regular War except “tie battles” become card-based themed story between inkblot characters at war. If needed, use card value to resolve disputed stories.
  • In Roaring Go-Fish, play as usual except fished cards can also match by a story relating the two inkblots.
  • In Solitary Stories, you play classic solitaire except any card can go anywhere  if you can tell its story to connect it. You are only allowed 6 such wild-card/stories in per game. Be careful, however, as once you start displacing cards you will be forced to tell more stories as the displaced card must now be used somewhere else and you may quickly weave a tangled web and get stuck. You can connect this with ideation play and make all your stories related to your “problem”.  Word of caution– don’t play this and talk out loud while doing so; talking to yourself while looking at inkblots might cause people to wonder about your mental stability.

Four Types of cards.

  1. Suit Cards (like normal poker/bridge cards but with inkblot faces)
  2. Point Cards, which have inkblots and scoring phrases at the top
  3. Optional Theme Cards
  4. Optional Doodlers cards (blank cards on which you can draw your own inkblots).

Rules for special cards:

  • If playing with theme cards they are usually played before the round. You can just randomly draw one or can deal three theme cards and the dealer (or the judge) picks one of the three as the theme.
  • An alternative theme mode is to include them with the dealt cards story/suit cards. When played it  allow the player to change the story and theme when played.  When used, the player must interpret the image of the card currently on the top of stack and interpret that drawing within the new theme.
  • Some versions of RoarStack can be purchased with blank cards, on which the owner can draw whatever they want.  Users can also download a print/play blank card.  Hand-drawn cards are explicitly allowed (have a point value of 1 (yes only 1).
  • The RoarStack cards are yours, so if you choose to drawn on them, its your choice.  If you destroy them we’ll sell you more. You can change the drawings, but any modified card always has a point value of 1.