Finbizz

It is impossible to trace the origins of the card game known as Finbizz. However, the popularity of the game is much easier to explain.

In 1173, an unknown player by the name of Khristopher Geltmacher managed to gain entry into the Falkensburg Finbizz Tourney, held at the Rotlicht Casino, through an unlikely series of wagers. Once in the tourney, he proceeded to sweep through the finest players on the continent, and secure the championship. Having come from a relatively poor background, he played his victory into something of a "Triumph of the common man", garnering wild amounts of popularity among the lower classes in the city.

Afterwards, a sudden surge in Finbizz schools, clubs, tournaments and more quickly proliferated across the city. This has proven exceedingly lucrative for the Finbizz room owners and tournament organizers. The boom has, naturally, proven far less lucrative for the masses of unskilled players lured in by the fame, glory and promise of easy money. The upper classes are not immune from the lure. Even the Mayor of Falkensburg, Tobias Sousa, is an avid player of the game. There is often a group of players to be found in most taprooms. The Baron's Ribcage is known for hosting high-profile open tournaments every week.

A detailed discussion of the game is beyond the scope of this article. The most recent edition of the Official Rules comes in at over 225 pages for the hardcover edition. However, I shall endeavour to cover the basics of the game herein.

Finbizz is played with a special 100 card deck. The deck has 5 suits - flags, coins, flames, mugs and blades - of 15 cards each, numbered Ace through Ten, plus 5 face cards. In ascending rank, the face cards are Peasant, Page, Squire, Knight and Lord.

In addition to the 75 suited cards, there are 25 special cards known as the Court which carry no rank, but rather can have interactions with other cards and influence the rules of the hand.

King Demon General Platinum Earth
Queen Imp Commander Gold Wind
Prince Priest Lieutenant Silver Water
Princess Cultist Sergeant Copper Fire
Servant Sacrifice Private Lead Spirit

One should note that the names of the face and Court cards can vary from region to region, though their functions remain the same. For instance, some decks produced and used at Freidenwaffe College substitute the university ranks of Professor, Magister, Forscher, Gelehrter and Lehrling for the General, Commander, Lieutenant, Sergeant and Private cards. In Bretagne, the face cards are known as Paysan, Ecurie, Escuier, Chevalier and Seigneur.

While the hands need no explanation, much of the complexity in Finbizz comes from the interactions of the Court cards. When playing a hand, a player has the option to either use the full number of cards allowed to construct a strong hand, or to leave out one or more cards in exchange for Court cards. Under basic rules, you could use all 5 cards for a hand to make 5 of a Kind, or a Full Straight. Alternately, you could choose to make a 4 card hand. This limits you to lower ranking hands like 4 of a Kind or a Short Straight, but allows you to gain the possible benefits of a Court card.

Properly played, a Court card can change the value of a weak hand, allowing a simple Pair to beat 5 of a Kind. However, the effect can be reduced, negated or even reversed by another player's Court card.

For instance, the powerful Demon will devour (cause to be discarded) all the highest ranking face cards in play. This means if 2 players have Lords in their hands, both Lords will be discarded, but Knights are unaffected. If no player has a Lord, then Knights will be discarded for example.

However, if another player (or even the player who played the Demon themselves) has the Priest, they can instead direct the Demon to devour either any 3 cards in play, or all cards of a specified rank (including numbered cards). Alternately, the Demon can be directed to devour any number of specific Court cards representing people, such as the King and Commander.

However, if another player has played the Sacrifice, the Demon will become enraged and turn on the person who played it, as well as the player of the Priest. The player of the demon will lose their 2 highest ranking cards, and the player of the Priest will lose one card, as well as the Priest. If one player played both the Demon and Priest, this means their remaining 3 cards will be discarded.

The precious metal cards simply increase the value of the hand that plays them by a number of steps, except for Lead, which reduces the value of the hand it's played along with by one rank. However, the Lead can be traded for any other metal played the same hand, giving you the benefit of the metal, and your opponent the penalty of the lead. Alternately, you can use Silver to bribe a soldier away from an opponent. When paid with Platinum, the Servant will reveal himself as an Assassin, slaying any one noble you choose.

This but barely touches on the interactions of the Court cards, and the effect they can have on the game and each other.

- Magister Wickham

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