St Patrick

St. Patrick is the perfect, portable game to take to the pub for a few rounds of green beer. We played it at Compulsory Merriment to be ready for this very moment!

This is a trick taking game like Euchre, Spades or Hearts that’s based on the legend of St. Patrick… which means the overall goal is to drive the snakes out of Ireland without getting bit to death! Players start with a hand of cards; you just divide the deck up into hands based on the number of players. Everybody starts with 20 life points and takes snake bite damage over the course of play. There are four suits, three of which are mostly harmless, plus a deadly suit of Snakes. The game also includes tokens called “Relics” that act as a sort of antivenin against the Snakes in your hand.

Each round has three parts. First, you pass a card you want to get rid of to the player on your left. Evaluate your hand, decide how much of a threat it poses to you, and grab as many antivenin Relics as you think you’ll need. Then you’ll play your cards in the usual way–first player leads the suit and you must follow if you have that suit. Highest card takes the trick. One of the moments you’ll dream of while playing St. Patrick is that magical time when everybody else is playing, say, green Clovers and you’re out of Clovers. That’s when you get to offload one of your Snakes on the hapless player who takes the trick.

At the end of the round, count the Snakes in your hand and take off a point for every Snake that isn’t matched with a protective relic. The next round starts with the player who has had the most Snake bites. If you’re the worst-bitten, you get to decide how many cards are passed in the first part of the round. Then the game proceeds as usual until somebody has suffered 20 snake bites and … kaput! Player with the most life remaining wins the game.

There’s also a “shoot the moon” play that happens when players take all the Relics on the table. The moral of this story is, “Don’t be greedy;” Patrick was a Saint after all! If you take all the Relics, they become cursed. Everybody has to pass their entire hand to the left and whomever ends up with extra relics loses a point for every one. If you’re feeling the need for risk and danger–and you have a really terrible Snake-filled hand–you may want to try this. Mostly, you’ll probably want to play in a saintly way.

Mandi and I liked the game but, I’ll tell you, Chris hates trick-taking in general. He’s more of our imagination and trivia guy. Mandi also gave the instruction book a C. It’s actually pretty simple: pass the cards, bid your hand and take the Relics, play the tricks, count the damage. If you like trick taking, St. Patrick is a worthy addition with a couple of fun twists!

20-40 minutes playtime, 3-4 players, Ages 10+