peteg's blog - noise - games - 2008 07 20 Machiavelli

Machiavelli, a card game.

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I learnt this one from an Italian girl while I was in Nha Trang last year. You'll need two decks of cards, a fairly large table and a mate or two. Please tell me how I can improve this presentation of the rules.

Choose the dealer.

Oldest person deals the first hand, then winners deal successive hands.


The dealer shuffles the two decks into one pile of cards and deals each player fourteen cards face-down.


A player wins by being the first to play all the cards in their hand.


Initially the table is bare, with the pile of undealt cards placed face-down within easy reach of all players.

At the end of each player's turn, each card played on the table must be part of exactly one:

  • three- or four-of-a-kind, with each suit appearing at most once; or
  • a run, where each card is of the same suit. (The ace follows the king in a run, and cannot be placed before the two.)


Play proceeds in turns, going clockwise, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.

Initially a player must play (at least) a self-contained group of three cards. After doing so, and on successive rounds, a player may play as many cards as they like. They can adjust the groups of cards already on the table by:

  • adding cards to an existing group; or
  • redistributing existing groups and adding cards.

If the player does not play a card on the table, they must pick up a card from the top of the deck of undealt cards, after which play continues with the next player.

Note there is no notion of "ownership" of a group of cards on the table.