by Dennis M. Myers, 08/13/2020
While writing my original manuscript I added a throw-away line where one character (Elliot
) says he feels like he has a hand with five aces. Another character points out that since there are six aces in a deck, someone else could have a royal flush and beat him. Five aces is not the highest ranking hand. At the time, I thought it was just funny and let it be.
Later, after I split that first draft into two novels, I needed to go back and add more story to both parts. I started by creating a problem for Elliot which resulted in a very large cash expenditure. I thought it was funny when he ended up running short of money. He's not stupid, and he needs to acquire more cash for his private ventures. At that point, I remembered his poker metaphor, and figured that he played. It fit in with his personality. So I was suddenly faced with putting together a poker game, and I needed a six suited deck of cards.
Being a software developer by trade, my first instinct was to work at automating the whole thing. I worked out a database driven system for making a game of draw poker with the six suits.
I should backtrack a little. Most six suited decks I have seen don't divide the deck the way I wanted. The best deck has 3 red and 3 black suits. It's a nice deck, but I really wanted three colors. It matters most when I add an extra wildcard. Three of those, one for each color. Makes the range of games more interesting. I added cups and swords as the blue cards. The wildcards are the Joker, the Wizard, and the Doctor. For the draw game, this is as far as I needed to go.
The next game was different. I wanted a unique game that would be fun, and suited for this new deck. I called it Rainbow. You have to make the best hand you can, but you also need two cards of each color. That meant I needed to assign colors to the wild cards. At this point, I was looking at my code, and it was getting too complicated, so I took a step back, and bought 4 decks of real playing cards. Two packs of two each. That gave me two double-sized decks with the same color back. Red and Blue. Taking out one set of spades and clubs, I whipped out a blue marker, hit the diamonds with a big X as swords, and the hearts with a big blue O. Good enough for what I needed.
I took one of the colored jokers and used a black marker to cover the red and blue parts, leaving the yellow as decoration. Then I used blue and red markers on the other black and white joker. The black one is the Joker. The red is the Wizard. When I looked at that third wildcard before, I was thinking of medieval fantasy courts. The Jester, the Alchemist, and the Physician. Much better than the Old Maid. But right as I came to the Doctor, and realized it was blue, I smiled, and decided the Doctor was female. If you don't connect the color blue with the Doctor, and female, you aren't as much of a nerd as I am. That's why, while they are playing, the Doctor is referred to as "she".
So back to Rainbow. In this game I employed a method of passing play around the table, everyone draws a card, then discards one. Much like rap poker, someone who thinks they have a winning hand declares it by saying "rainbow", then everyone else gets a go at the deck before the hand ends.
What about those three wildcards? I decided that they do not match each other, so they can't be used to pair. They have no number, so they can't be part of a run. Just a color, which will do in a pinch, so they really weren't worth much. I decided that the Doctor and the Wizard, when played, will reverse the order of play. The Joker skips the next player. A dash of Uno, I suppose. It ends up being a fun game that can only be played with my new 6 suited deck.
Instead of using software, I now had two physical decks to play with. And play I did. I tried solitaire, poker, and yes, I played a lot of Rainbow. Eventually, I sat down and dealt six hands, played each hand as I went, and recorded the results. When you get to the game in the book, you can do all the checking you like, but the deals were real, and the play went mostly like I played it. Sure, I skipped bits because that got a bit boring, and just used the game to facilitate the conversation. In the end, I did create something new and real. I'm sure some fan somewhere is wondering about those two decks I used. I still have them, and I will, one day, give them away.
This is where I had announced my intention to create a deck to give out at conventions. That has been accomplished. The new suit symbols changed a little bit, and I had to use a lighter blue, but the end result is wonderful. In the process, I was able to create a deck with beautiful artwork by bryan Gibson. And yes, I obtained his daughter's permission. The link is below if you would like to take a look at the finished product.
A Game for a six suited deck with three colors
- Each player puts their "gold" into the pot.
- "Gold" is the ante as decided upon prior to the start of play.
- Each player is dealt 6 cards face down.
- Must have a rainbow, 2 red (diamonds/hearts), 2 black (clubs/spades), and 2 blue (swords/cups) to win.
- Player clockwise of the dealer is "under the sun", and can lay down cards and stop play if they have a rainbow hand, and full house or better.
- Play as follows: Draw 1 card either from deck or discard pile (top card only), then discard 1 card face up on the discard pile.
- Recycling the discard pile is not allowed. Must discard a different card.
- Passing the Dealer in either direction "feeds the leprechaun" and everyone must ante up again.
- If a player holds a winning hand (rainbow and full house or better) and wishes to claim the pot:
- Say "Rainbow".
- Pay the toll or a double "gold".
- Become the Rainbow Player.
- Play continues until Rainbow Player is reached again.
- Lays hand down and ends play to decide who gets the pot of gold.
- Wildcards do not pair or triple. Only count as color.
- Discarded Wildcards have special effects:
- Doctor - Reverse play order
- Wizard - Reverse play order
- Joker - Skip next player in play order
- Skipping the Dealer still feeds the leprechaun.
- Skipping the Rainbow Player delays the end of the game.
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