Notes on a Card Game

In high school I played a game called Revolution, and as the hipsters would say, you’ve probably never heard of it.

Recently, I’ve been rewriting a novel with some semi-autobiographical details about high school social life, and I decided to add Revolution to the mix. Here’s how I describe it:

…The card game Revolution, like high school society, assigned rank and privileges based on the luck of the player’s hand. Players laid down x-of-a-kind combinations, either matching the previous play or playing higher-ranked cards. If they couldn’t, they passed, drawing a card from the deck. Players could also trump with an ace and a new play. The players who got rid of their hand first were assigned higher rank, such as King, Queen, or Bishop, while those who finished last got Peasant or Dirt. In the next game, higher-ranked players could steal good cards from lower-ranked players, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

I take a few liberties here. “Dirt” isn’t the lowest rank, it’s “Shit” (or “Crap” to sensitive players), and there are rules such as “skipping” (repeating the last play, causing the next player to skip their turn).

My initial draft had no description of the game whatsoever, just scenes of my characters engaged in it. I decided that readers might want to try it out if it were interesting enough, so I added the paragraph above.

Still, I figured that someone else must have played this game, as it couldn’t have been created solely at my high school. And in fact, it came from Japan, where it’s called Daifugo. Other western variations are called Asshole and Capitalism.

It’s a vicious game, encouraging more backstabbing than Munchkin, because the stakes are higher. Players improve their hands in subsequent games by stealing cards from their opposite rank, so if you end up “Shit” in the first game, chances are you’ll stay there.

So yes, it’s a perfect analogue for the high school pecking order.