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Celtic Whist, A Stonehenge Abstract Strategy Game by Rich Hutnik

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1–5 players. Lore and legend says that the origins of Celtic Whist is shrouded in mystery. Lore and legends also conflict as to the origins of this trick-taking card game. Some say the game is possibly a druidic ritual of purity tied in some way to Stonehenge, or a way for Celtic Monks to practice mental discipline battling against the flesh, sin and the world, or a way for the Knights of the Round Table to spend time while waiting for the next quest training their mind to remain mentally sharp. It is possible that the Christian Monks found the game from the Druids and modified it, explaining why it appears to mirror Stonehenge to some degree but is different.

There is another story that all whist games are derived from Celtic Whist (the origins of whist is nearly as much of a mystery as Stonehenge itself), and arrived in Europe through Celtic monks acting as missionaires. The ties to Stonehenge itself were removed, and the game was adopted to the standard deck of playing cards we know today, rather than the deck of cards that have ties to Stonehenge. The scoring also changed. What is seen with Celtic Whist is a best guess estimate as to how the original game was played, modified to be playable in modern era, while remaining true to the original game whose full set of rules appear to be lost.

No one knows for sure if any of these are true (well, except the author who knows they are not, but spins this story to make things more interesting). However, no matter what the origins are, the reality is that Celtic Whist is one of the first solitaire games for Stonehenge. It is also playable for up to five players, and can also be played as a cooperative game (one of the firsts also for Stonehenge).

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Celtic Whist, A Stonehenge Abstract Strategy Game by Rich Hutnik

Here is the true story behind Celtic Whist. Celtic Whist has been adapted from another game I created, called Oneonta Whist, to fit the equipment in the Stonehenge. The use of the black suite has radically changed the game (add a layer of controlled chaos to the game that wasn't originally in Oneonta Whist), while keeping the need for precise bidding in place.

Game Rules

Number of players: 1–5

Object of the game: Get to 30 points before neutral piece hits 30. Players lose game if neutral piece hits 30 before they do. If player loses points and ends up at zero, they also lose the game. The player and neutral figure start at 15 space.

Getting Started

* Deck used: 1-30 of of either sun symbol or moon symbol. Plus, the 5 trilithons (Each round these cares are reshuffled and randomly one is selected).
- Order from lowest value to highest of non-trump suit: 1-30
White: 1, 7, 13, 19, 25
Blue: 2, 8, 14, 20, 26
Green: 3, 9, 15, 21, 27
Yellow: 4, 10, 16, 22, 28
Red: 5, 11, 17, 23, 29
Black: 6, 12, 18 24, 30
- Order from lowest to highest value trump suit: See above, and trilithon is highest valued card.
- Order of lowest to highest (if black is led): 1-30, trilithon of trump suit. Black does NOT have a trilithon, and thus can't be a trump suite.
* The board.
* One neutral figure, and one figure per player. One of player's color and black as neutral that acts as timer. When it hits 30, game is over.
* One bar and one disk per player. This is used for tracking bids. Player puts the disk on number of bid, and bar that many spaces forward from their figure.

1. Put both figures on the 15 space. Separate the trilithon cards from the 1-30 cards. Each round, gather together the trilithon cards in one pile, to be selected, and the other cards in another deck.

Playing the Game

* Dummy hand: A pile of cards (hand) that always leads and the player plays against.
* Lead: To play first.
* Null: To bid to win no tricks.
* Trick: To win cards played by all players when cards are laid down.
* Trump/Trump suit: A suit that is higher than all other suits. When a card of trump suit is played, it beats all other cards that aren't of a trump suit. For examples, with regular playing cards, if diamonds is a trump suit, a Jack of Diamonds would beat a King of any other suit (like Clubs). A trump card is a card that is part of trump suit. In this game, the trump suits are colors. Black is never a trump suit.

Dealing and set-up:
1. Shuffle the 5 trilithon cards, and flip over the top trilithon card. The suit on the card turned over is the suit of the trump suit.
2. The selected trilithon card is then put in with the remaining cards, and the trilithon
3. Cards are dealt alternately between two hands. Deal out 13 cards to each hand. One hand is for the player. The other is a dummy hand. After 26 cards are dealt out (thirteen per hand), five cards will be left over. These are set aside and will be reshuffled and reused the following rounds. Option: Deal out 15 cards per hand for less luck instead.

After cards are dealt out, the player estimates how many tricks they will win. A player can bid one of two ways:
1. A player can bid between 1-13. This type of bid represents the number of tricks a player thinks they will win.
2. A player can also bid what is called a null. This type of bid is for when a player thinks that they will take no tricks. A null bid may also be from 1-13. If the player wins no tricks, they receive the number of points that they bid null. If the player wins one or more trick, they lose as many points as they bid. The most a player can bid null is the number of cards they were dealt.
3. Player records their bid as follows. They put their disk on the number representing how many tricks they are bidding to take. If they do a null bid, they put the disk on the inner day-night track. Otherwise, for regular bids, they put the disk on the outer track with one of the five colors. The bar is advanced that many spaces from where the player's figure is currently. For example, if a player is on the 17 space, and they bid 5, the disk would go on the red space of the five, and the bar would go on the 22 space. For a null 5 bid, the bar goes on the same spot, but the player's disk goes on either the day or night inner track of the 5 space.

1. The dummy hand, that hand which is not controlled by player, has its top card turned face up.
2. The player must match the suit of the card played by the dummy hand, if they can. If the player has a card higher than the value of the card played by the dummy hand and is the same suit as the dummy hand, the player wins that trick. Both cards are then placed into a pile of cards won by player in tricks.
3. If the player can't match the suit of that the dummy hand led with, then the player may play a trump card and win the trick. If the player doesn't have a trump card, then the dummy hand wins the trick.
4. Play continues until all the cards in the player's hand have been played.

EXCEPTION: If dummy hand leads a black card, then they highest number card, IRREGARDLESS OF SUIT, wins the trick. For example, if dummy black card 24 is dealt, then any card of any suite 25-30, can win the trick, even the trilithon would.

1. Player adds up number of tricks they won.
2. If player made a regular bid:
* If player didn't win as many tricks as they bid, they lose the number of points they bid. If a player bid five and won only three, they would lose five points.
* If player won exactly the same number of tricks as points they bid, the player wins the number of points they bid. If a player bid four and won four points, the player would receive four points.
* If a player won more tricks than they bid, the player wins then number of points they bid. However, for each trick won over the number of points the player bid, the player would lose a point. Example: player bids four and wins six tricks. Player would win 2 points. 4-(6-4)=2.

NOTE: Harder scoring (recommended in single player gamer). If player doesn't make bid, they lose what they bid. If they make it exactly, they score what they bid. If they went over, they score ZERO points. Player can't have less than zero points.

3. If player made a null bid:
* If player won no tricks, they would receive the number of points they bid. Example: player bids null 3 (said null negative three or -3), player wins no tricks and receives 3 points.
* Player wins one or more tricks. Player would lose the number of points they bid. Example, player bids -5 (null 5). Player wins two tricks. Player would lose five points.

Note: Null bids are all or nothing. Player must not win any tricks or they lose what they bid.

Neutral piece advances one space closer to 30, and round starts again.

0. All players start at zero (not on the board). Cards are dealt out evenly to players. Any remaining cards are set aside. Each player has a figure. There is also one figure that serves as a neutral piece and timer. It always advances at least one space and NEVER backwards. It can advance more to the player furthest most ahead.
1. Winner of the game: Players play until either timer hits 30, or one player gets to at least 30 (players can score more than 30). First player to reach 30 or go over wins. Or, player with highest score after the neutral piece acting as a timer, hits the 30 space. In event of a tie, continue play until one player has more points than all others. Players who are tied for lead would continue playing, while those who had less points would end play (are eliminated).
2. Dealing: There is no dummy hand. Cards are dealt to players instead. The minimum number of cards in a hand is seven. If there aren't enough cards in deck used to play, cards less than 10 should be used. First nines then, then eights, etc... This is done to raise number of cards to at least seven in a hand. There also should be at least one card remaining to determine trump suit. Deal passes clockwise from player to player after each round.
3. Order of bidding: Player who won the most amount of points in the previous round would bid first. The next player, clockwise, would then state bid. This continues until all players are done bidding. Bids are then recorded (or recorded when said). Note:If all players bid null, then all players bids are counted as a regular bid of zero. Each player would lose one point for each trick they take.
3a. If all players bid null, then all bids are coverted to a zero positive bid and all players lose one point for each trick they win.
4. Order of play: Player who bid highest would go first. A null bid is considered negative in evaluating who goes first. In event two or more players bid the same, the player with the most points amongst the tied players in bidding would go first. In event of still a tie, the player dealing cards would go first. Order of playing card then proceeds clockwise. After the first trick is won, the player who won the trick would then play a card, and again, the next player, clockwise, would play a card.
5. At end of round, neutral figure either advances to be on same space as leading player, or moves a minimum of one space closer to 30 (if no player advanced beyond the space of leader of last round that the neutral figure was on).

Doubling: If a play bids null or regular bid the maximum amount, the player has the option to double. For example, if there are possible tricks, if the player bids a null 7 (bids 7 points to take no trick) or bids 7 (bids to take all 7 tricks), the player can bid null double (take no tricks) or double (take all tricks). When a player bids double or null double, the player either wins or loses 14 points. Else, play continues the same. A double is the highest amount one can bid. A null double is the lowest one can bid.

Tougher solitaire scoring (recommended for single player play): A player scores no points if they take more tricks than they bid, rather than subtracting one from their bid total, for each one over, as is normally done. The object of the game is to finish the game with a positive score. This adjustment makes for a much more challenging, and arguably meaningful, solitaire game.

Longer or shorter solitaire game: Adjust the starting spot of the player and the neutral piece. For a shorter game, move the neutral piece closer to 30. For a longer gamer, move neutral figure closer to one. Game can also be made more difficult for a player if they move their figure closer to one, instead of starter at 15. Conversely, moving player's figure closer to 30 to start makes the game easier.

If black is lead, black must be followed: In this variant (recommended for 2 or more players), when a black card is led, everyone else who has at least one black card must play a black card. Player who played highest number (or trilithon), wins the trick, irregardless of the color. This makes the game less chaotic.

Restrictive Null: Players are only permitted two types of null bids, null 1, and null MAX. A null MAX bid is equal to the points of highest non-null bidder.
More cards: For 5 or more players, use all 60 day and night number cards. The first of a number led is considered higher, irregardless of whether it is day or night.

Cooperative player: Players all bid separately, but only advance their scoring piece if everyone bid perfectly. Piece then advances number of spaces equal to number of players in game. Neutral piece also moves one space each turn and acts as a timer. In cooperative play, the object is to reach 30 before the neutral figure (acting as a timer) reaches 30.

Ending the Game

Get to 30 points before neutral piece hits 30. Players lose game if neutral piece hits 30 before they do. If player loses points and ends up at zero, they also lose the game. The player and neutral figure start at 15 space.

Rich Hutnik is a regular on BoardGame Geek. He generally gets antsy and wants to tear apart just about every game on the planet to create a new games out of them. This compulsion to turn everything he gets his hands on into another game is why he was drawn to Stonehenge. Celtic Whist is the first of a number of game he created for Stonehenge.

This rule set is for use with Stonehenge: An Anthology Board Game™ from Paizo. Stonehenge may be purchased at or at your favorite local game store. © 2017 Paizo Inc. Titanic Games, its logo, and Anthology Board Game are trademarks of Paizo Inc. in the U.S.A. and other countries. All rights reserved. This contribution was made under the Anthology Board Game Library Agreement, whose conditions apply to the material in this document. For more free Stonehenge rule sets, visit the Stonehenge Library at

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