At the risk of derailing the Icehouse discussion list into a discussion
of Decktet arcana, I thought I'd offer my two bits.
I think the decktet is an interesting idea. Being a math geek my first
reaction was to think about the "card space". There are three of each
numbered cards each representing two suits. A bit of quick math reveals
that there are 15 distinct ways to pair up the suits in this manner. In
the decktet as specified only 8 of those 15 are included, thus making
some pairings more common/rare than others...
Actually, 12 of the 15 possible pairwise combinations occur in the basic
deck. But that does mean that three combinations do not occur. I thought
about making the deck so that all the combinations occurred equally
often, but I didn't for several reasons.
One reason reason that I like having the deck be 36 cards. It's
managably small and readily divisible. A Decktet with no asymmetries
would be enormous. Even if every combination occurred equally often,
suits would differ in the ranks at which the combinations occurred.
(SMyers does the math in his post.)
Another reason I made the Decktet the way it is: The asymmetries make
things possible that wouldn't be possible in a perfectly symmetrical
deck. For example, games like Bharg and Terrapin depend on trying to
collect or avoid certain suit combinations; knowing that Suns-Moons is
pretty common (there are three cards with that combination) but
Moons-Wyrms isn't (there are no cards like that) makes these games more
interesting. Also, you could make rules giving Moons a special effect
that's incompatible with the special effect of Wyrms without needing a
special rule for resolving the conflict - because there are no
There are further consequences, but the upshot is that there is a
structure to the deck - it's just not a perfectly symmetrical arrangement.
Any idea why some cards have a bullet, a bisected circle, or both, next to the name of the card?
In addition to rank and suits, each card has a symbolic type. Face cards
are called Personalities, and occur throughout the deck. The cards
with bullets are Events. The cards with bisected circles are Locations.
Some cards can be either Events or Locations, and so they have both symbols.
This difference mostly just matters if you read the cards or use them
narratively. There are a couple of games that use the difference between
Personalities and the other cards, though. One is Adaman, a solitaire
game in which you use the locations and events to neutralize
personalities. Another is a trick-taking game that I'm currently
developing called Hermit, in which you try to avoid personality cards.
Rules for Adaman are at http://www.fecundity.com/pmagnus/decktet/adaman.php
Rules for Hermit aren't on-line yet, but drop me a line if you're
interested in playtesting.
OK, enough shilling for the Decktet...