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Art of War Assertion


Outthink and Outfight Your Opponent




(Copyright Notice:  Art of War Assertion rules may be printed for easy access during play.  Art of War Assertion rules may not be printed for resale or repackaging without permission from Center For Advantage.)


I. Playing Table


The game of Art of War Assertion is played on a table at least the size of a typical coffee table.  Within reason, the larger the size of the table, the better will be the play of the game.


II. Players


Play is for two to four players or teams.


III. Set Up


Place at the very center of the table the information card from the deck with the back up. 




Play will start from this center with the first cards placed adjacent to the center card top, bottom, or sides, denoted above by the empty spaces surrounded by dashed lines.  For played cards to remain active, they must be able to trace an unbroken line of connected cards to this center. 


Select which player will take the first turn.  Draw six cards with the first player to take a turn drawing first and the remainder drawing in clockwise order.  All remaining cards stay in the deck until drawn on later turns.  


IV. Start


Proceed to play clockwise from the first player selected to take a turn. 


On any given turn, a player will take territory, play a strategy against an opponent, or in some cases, do both. 


At the end of that player’s turn, all players draw to replace any cards lost from their hand.  The player whose turn just concluded draws first, and the other players follow in clockwise succession.  Before the next turn begins, all players should have six cards in their hands.  When this is so, play can proceed to the next player’s turn.


V. Taking Territory


Players take territory by assembling strategy tricks.  A strategy trick is a four card sequence assembled along a vertical or horizontal path in any suite order.  A completed strategy trick contains one member from each suite. 




On his turn, each player can play up to four cards from his hand to make a strategy trick.  That player can use no more than one card from each suite per turn to build a strategy trick along a single vertical or horizontal line.  At the conclusion of a turn in which a player opts to build on a strategy trick he will complete one complete strategy trick of four cards or partially complete a strategy trick of less than four cards. 


Strategy tricks may bisect each other like a crossword puzzle, as per the top example below, but may not be laid end-to-end to form a horizontal or vertical sequence of cards longer than four cards, as per the bottom example below.  Although all moves must be oriented toward the creation of one specific strategy trick, crossword puzzle type intersections may result in a turn actually creating more than one strategy trick as a byproduct.  




As strategy tricks are assembles, certain spaces on the board become illegal for the placement of cards.  The example below shows places that are not legal for building new strategy tricks in a sample game position.




VI. Scoring Points


Players receive one permanent point for every strategy trick they complete.  Strategy tricks remain on the table, and the earned point is noted on a separate piece of paper.


Players also gain conditional points by building strategy tricks deeper and deeper onto their opponent's side of the board.  Therefore, you will tend to build your strategy trick out from the center and toward your opponent.


Players receive four conditional points at any time they or an opponent place their first card on the table seven spaces away from the center and toward their opponent.  (A space is the length of one card from the center either horizontally or vertically.)  Players receive another four conditional points for placement of the first card on the table eleven spaces from the center and toward their opponent, and another five conditional points for the first card placed on the table fourteen spaces from the center and toward their opponent. 


opponent's side



representative player's side


The above example shows a player's position presently worth nine total points.  The first five points are from the five completed strategy tricks.  The second four points - six, seven, eight, and nine - are from the club that is the first placed card seven spaces away from the center.


Unlike points earned for completed strategy tricks, points earned by taking territory, and thereby crossing distance thresholds from the center, are not permanent.  If your opponent causes you to loose territory, you also lose those associated points earned from taking that territory. 


To be considered active, and so to maintain points earned from taking territory, all cards involved in the above distance measures must trace a line through successive strategy tricks back to the center card when these points are tallied.  (Note: a direct line to the center can include diagonal - corner to corner - links of cards on the table; however new strategy tricks can never be started off a diagonal corner of another card.)


VII. Winning the Game


Unless otherwise called for by enacting one of the strategies from the following sections, Art of War Assertion ends the moment all cards have been drawn from the deck.


At the end of the game, tally all permanently owned points and all conditional points that remain valid to obtain a total score for each player's side.


The player with the most points wins.  Ties are considered a draw.


(Note: if desired, you may decide with other players at the beginning of the game that you will play out remaining turns after the last card is drawn from the deck until all players have had an equal number of turns.  Under this continuation, used or lost cars are not replaced through these last turns.)


XIII. Enacting a Strategy


Instead of playing cards to build a strategy trick, players may choose to enact a strategy described on a card face held in their hand.  Each card allows you to take a specific action or actions against your opponent as described in the list below.  For example, if you choose to play the Ace of Spades, "Eliminate Your Adversary," against your opponent, you place that card on any strategy trick of your choice and remove those cards from the game, plus any cards this removal separates from a direct path to the center card. 


When a strategy from a strategy card causes a contradiction with any of the rules in the previous sections I through XII, the rules for the strategy card always take precedence.  For example, the Jack of Clubs allows you to change the number of cards held in your hand and that of an opponent’s hand from six to some other number, four, five, seven, or eight.  That rule now takes precedence over the rule that all hands must have six cards found in sections III and IV.


XIV. Some Strategic Considerations


The following factors, among others, make Art of War Assertion an excellent model for the type of thinking that all strategists must do in complex environments.  This thinking involves trade-offs, risk, and uncertainty in your effort to gain and retain enough points to win the game.


You gain points by taking territory.  To win, you must gain more points than your opponent; however to gain territory, and therefore points, you need a resource.  That resource is a physical playing card.  Once you put that physical card on the table as a resource to gain territory and points, you necessarily forgo the option to use the strategy on that card against your opponent.  If you use the strategy on the card against your opponent, you necessarily forgo the option to use that card to gain territory.  Resource management is a key to victory. 


Strategy play is very dynamic.  Deception and ambushes form a major part of this game.  For example, your opponent may hold a strategy card that turns your attack back against you, and this possibility is always a danger if you do not know where the card that allows this play resides.  Similarly, if you hold a card too long to wait for an optimal time to use it, that card could easily end up in your opponent’s hand.  Even cards played in a strategy trick may come back to life as playable strategies in certain circumstances.  You have to keep an awareness of the cards on and off the table, and observe the behavior of your opponent to judge what to play next.  Those adept at taking measured risks and reading people will likely win the game.  The best guide for how to win Art of War Assertion is Sun Tzu on the Art of War.


X. Strategy Rules for Individual Cards:




Ace of Spades – Place the Ace of Spades on any strategy trick.  Remove the four cards of that strategy trick, plus the Ace of Spades, from the game.  Remove also any cards that cannot trace a direct path, through connected strategy tricks, to the center card as a result of removing the selected strategy trick.   




King of Spades – Place the King of Spades on the center.  Declare the preceding move of your opponent null.  Any cards placed on the table during your opponent’s preceding turn are removed from the game.  Return any cards removed from the table during your opponent’s preceding turn to their positions before your opponent’s preceding turn.


Queen of Spades – Place the Queen of Spades on the center card.  Draw seven new cards.  Place any seven of the total cards now in your hand anywhere on the table where they could build or complete any number of strategy tricks.  The rule that you can only put down up to four cards, and that cards must only develop one strategy trick, does not apply on the turn you play the Queen of Spades. 


Jack of Spades – Replace any spade currently showing on the table with the Jack of Spades and immediately play the strategy on the replaced spade against your opponent.  Alternatively, place the Jack of Spades on the table and call for your opponent to give you the highest or the lowest spade held in his hand.  Immediately play that strategy against your opponent or use that card to build a strategy trick.  (If your opponent has no spades, the turn ends.)


Ten of Spades – Place the Ten of Spades on top of any other spade on the table that is or could be a part of an uncompleted strategy trick.  Your opponent must complete that strategy trick before he can make any other moves.  Alternatively, place the Ten of Spades on the center card and call out any card you believe is in your opponent’s hand.  If your opponent has that card, it is removed from the game, and your opponent draws a new one.  If your opponent does not have that card, the turn ends.


Nine of Spades – Play the Nine of Spades as the exact same strategy card your opponent played during his previous turn.


Eight of Spades – Place the Eight of Spades on the center.  This ends the game as a draw, irrespective of who is currently winning at the time.


Seven of Spades – Use the Seven of Spades to effectively take two turns at once.  Build or build upon two strategy tricks instead of just one any time you play the Seven of Spades to build a strategy trick, or build on a strategy trick with the Seven of Spades and enact a strategy from a remaining card in your hand on the same turn.  You may use up to every card in your hand if necessary during this turn.


Six of Spades – Place the Six of Spades on the center.  Play any other strategy card in your hand.  After executing that strategy, take the executed strategy card back into your hand for use again on another turn.  (Replace the played strategy card with a marker if the strategy card, for example the Ace of Clubs, otherwise needs to remain in the game to continue its strategy function.) 


Five of Spades – Place the Five of Spades on the center.  Declare that your opponent, on his next turn, must place three cards somewhere on the board that contribute to, but do not complete, any strategy tricks.  Your opponent must remove at least three cards from his hand, even if he cannot comply with the declaration.  Excess cards are removed from the game.  Alternatively, point to the back of a card in your opponent’s hand and declare that he must execute the strategy printed on the face during his next turn.  If he cannot execute that strategy, he must remove the card from the game.  No two cards may be used for the same strategy trick, and at least one card must be played on each side of the board – or no more than one card per side in multiple opponent games.    




Four of Spades – Complete any strategy trick with the Four of Spades and receive an additional and permanent point for all other strategy tricks that lie adjacent to or bisect that new strategy trick, to include adjacent diagonal corners.




Three of Spades – Place the Three of Spades on the center and permanently claim all the points your opponent claimed on his previous turn.  Your adversary loses those points.  (Note: If you or your opponent loses conditional points for gaining territory to a Three of Spades move, it is possible to earn those conditional point again on a subsequent turn if that territory is lost and then regained.)


Two of Spades – Gain an extra point any time you use the Two of Spades to complete a strategy trick.  If the Two of Spades completes two new strategy tricks simultaneously, gain two extra points.






Ace of Clubs – Place the Ace of Clubs anywhere on the table.  This card becomes an alternative center.  All cards, yours or your opponent’s, that can trace a direct line to the Ace of Clubs, remain in play regardless if they are cut off from the actual center.  (Any action that can be played against a strategy trick can also be played against the Ace of Clubs once it is on the table.)



King of Clubs – Use the King of Clubs, along with any other necessary cards from your hand, to build a strategy trick on your opponent’s side of the board.  Flip these four cards over.  Your opponent must build a new strategy trick on top of these four cards before he can build out from any other strategy trick that has its direct line to the center blocked by the inverted cards.  (Any or all of the four cards in the strategy trick except for the King of Clubs could already be on the table when the King of Clubs is played.  In such a case, those cards on already on the table would be flipped over as described above.) 



Queen of Clubs – Place the queen of clubs on the center.  Draw four cards.  Play your hand with the additional cards drawn as if your turn has just started.  Discard any cards necessary to reduce your hand back to its original size when your turn ends.


Jack of Clubs – Place the Jack of Clubs on the center.  Declare that for the remainder of the game a hand will contain four, five, seven, or eight cards instead of six.  Players immediately draw or discard cards to match these numbers with the player who placed the Jack of Spades drawing or discarding first.    


Ten of Clubs – Place the Ten of Clubs on the center to nullify any counterstrategy that your opponent took against your previous move at any time your opponent declares that counterstrategy.  Remove the Ten of Clubs and the counterstrategy card.  Proceed with the game at the point where your opponent played the counterstrategy, and before drawing new cards, as if otherwise the Ten of Clubs and the counterstrategy card had not been played.


Nine of Clubs – If your adversary discovers the Nine of Clubs in your hand under any circumstance other than when you use it to build a strategy trick, you must discard all the cards in your hand, remove those cards from the game, redraw, and forfeit your next turn. 


Eight of Clubs – Place the Eight of Clubs on the center.  Write down on a piece of paper a move you are able to play with one or more of the cards currently in your hand.  This is called your real move.  Build strategy tricks or execute three possible strategy plays, one of which represents your real move, and lay the number of cards appropriate to those strategy plays face down in the proper position on the table.  (You must have the real card or cards for the real strategy played but do not require the real cards for the other two strategies you declare.) Your adversary can choose to respond with a counterstrategy to any one of your three declared strategy plays on the table.  He loses any of his cards involved in that counterstrategy, even if he reacts to one of the two strategy plays that are not real.  After your adversary responds with his counterstrategy, execute your real strategy play if your opponent did not successfully counter it.  Return the face down cards involved in the two false strategy plays back into your hand. 


Seven of Clubs – For games with more than two players, place the Seven of Clubs on the center card during any other player’s turn.  You can offer him one or more of your cards to play against the third player in addition to his own during his turn.  


Six of Clubs – Place the Six of Clubs on the center after your opponent has declared his move and during his turn.  This forces his move to take effect on the nearest available alternative location.  You have the final say on selecting the alternative location if two or more possible alternatives are equidistant from the originally selected location.  Allow your opponent to proceed with the rest of his turn as if he had originally chosen that alternative location.


Five of Clubs – Select any Ace or King as a strategy and play that strategy with the face covered by the Five of Clubs.  You may declare an actual strategy from an actual Ace or King, or bluff and declare a strategy for an Ace or King you do not actually hold.  If your adversary calls your bluff, and you have the real Ace or King you declared, execute the strategy on that Ace or King up to three times.  (Substitute markers where required for Aces or Kings that stay on the board.)  If your opponent calls your bluff, and you are bluffing, your opponent may execute either the strategy card you actually hold against you or the strategy you declared against you.  If your adversary does not call your bluff, you may execute the strategy you declared regardless of the strategy card you actually played.  You are not required to reveal your bluff if your opponent does not call it.


Four of Clubs – Place the Four of Clubs on the center at the beginning of your turn.  Proceed to make two additional turns, effectively causing your adversary to miss one turn.

Three of Clubs – Place the Three of Clubs on the center at the beginning of your turn.  Draw one card from the deck and take one card from your hand.  Show the faces of the two cards to your opponent.  Without him knowing which of the two cards you selected, place one of the two cards face down on the table as a permanent playable card that can be used at any time appropriate to the strategy or suite on that card.

Two of Clubs – Put every card that has been played on the center, plus every card that has been removed from the game, back into the deck, to include the Two of Clubs.  Shuffle the deck and move to your opponent’s next turn.


Ace of Diamonds – Place the Ace of Diamonds onto any strategy trick.  By doing so, no one can build from that strategy trick or any other strategy trick that cannot trace a direct line to the center until that strategy trick is replaced with an entirely new strategy trick, or until a new strategy trick is put in place that connects the isolated strategy tricks.


King of Diamonds – Place the King of Diamonds on the center.  Pull as many played strategy cards from the center as you like.  Challenge your adversary to a coin toss that allows the winner to enact all of the strategies you chose on your present or his next turn.  If your opponent accepts the challenge, flip the coin.  If your opponent does not accept the challenge, you may enact any one strategy from the group immediately.

Queen of Diamonds – Place the Queen of Diamonds on the center.  Your opponent cannot draw any new cards until after he completes his next three turns.

Jack of Diamonds – Place the Jack of Diamonds on the center.  Your opponent must take the two highest cards in his hand and place them on that Jack of Diamonds.  The turn ends without further action, and both players draw replacement cards.

Ten of Diamonds – Place the Ten of Diamonds on the center.  Without looking at the faces, choose three cards from your opponent’s hand.  Your opponent must set those three cards aside for his next three turns and cannot play them until the fourth turn after.  When he draws, he only replaces the remaining cards used from his hand.


Nine of Diamonds – Place the Nine of Diamonds on the center.  Then play another strategy card.  Your opponent has the opportunity to declare that strategy null.  If your opponent chooses to nullify that originally played strategy, you may execute another strategy card in your hand on that turn without your opponent nullifying it.  If your opponent chooses not to nullify your originally played strategy card, you may play that originally played strategy card out on that turn.

Eight of Diamonds – Build the Eight of Diamonds into any new strategy trick.  On your opponent’s next turn, he must, if you call for it, play his highest suite ranked strategy card.  If the highest suite ranked strategy card is to be oriented against a specific strategy trick, if you call for it, it must be the strategy trick that includes the Eight of Diamonds.  Otherwise, your opponent can target any other strategy trick he chooses.

Seven of Diamonds – Place the Seven of Diamonds on the table.  Proceed to your opponent's turn where he must build a new strategy trick as completely as he can with four cards.  (One existing card on the table may be covered by another card of these four cards to fulfill the four played card requirement.)  If your opponent’s hand does not contain a card from each suite, he must substitute cards for missing suite members, from the lowest suite rank to the highest, until he has aligned four cards on the table horizontally or vertically in the position of a strategy trick.  On your next turn, you may execute any strategy on a card within that strategy trick against your opponent by replacing that strategy card with any other strategy card in your hand.

Six of Diamonds – Place the Six of Diamonds on the center at the point in your opponent's turn that he has declared he will use a strategy on a strategy card against you.  Your opponent loses the remainder of that turn and you may now play his strategy card against him.

Five of Diamonds – Place the Five of Diamonds on any strategy trick your adversary worked to build or complete on his previous turn.  Enact any other strategy card in your hand unopposed so long as it does not involve that strategy trick.

Four of Diamonds – Place the Four of Diamonds on the center.  Draw one strategy card, and place it or another strategy card in your hand face up for your opponent to see.  Enact this strategy on any turn you choose.  Your opponent cannot cause you to loose this card until you play it.

Three of Diamonds – The three of diamonds allows you to build two new strategy tricks out of any four card combinations over two turns, regardless of the suites.  On the turn you play the Three of Diamonds, set up a horizontal or vertical row of four cards, the Three of Diamonds and any other three cards.  On your second, set up a horizontal or vertical row with any four cards.  Alternatively, play this strategy on your opponent and declare that he must build two new strategy tricks on his next two turns, regardless of card suites used.  On those two turns, the player building the strategy tricks cannot play any other strategy card.  (Note: you may play the Three of Diamonds as part of a regular strategy trick construction without enacting the strategy.)

Two of Diamonds – Place the Two of Diamonds on the center.  Your adversary must now play at least one card toward building a new strategy trick for every point that he has earned from his existing strategy tricks up to the total number of cards in his hand.  If he cannot use the required number of cards for building strategy tricks, he must discard them.  Cards can be played anywhere that is legal, and your opponent is not limited to working on just one strategy trick. 




Ace of Hearts – Place the Ace of Hearts on any card of a completed strategy trick.  That strategy trick becomes invulnerable to elimination regardless of its continuous connection to the center card.  This Ace of Hearts can only be eliminated with the Ace of Spades, but in that case, the strategy trick or tricks remain and the two Aces are removed from the game.  (The survival of this strategy trick or tricks when separated from the center does not protect other strategy tricks also separated from the center, even if they are adjacent to the invulnerable strategy trick.)



King of Hearts – Play the King of Hearts along with any other strategy card to guarantee that you obtain the full benefits from that other strategy card you play.  Your opponent cannot play a counterstrategy on your turn or his following turn.


Queen of Hearts – Place any other strategy card from your hand behind the Queen of Hearts to hide its identity.  Play that hidden strategy card as either its real strategy or the strategy on any other strategy card from the game.  If your adversary calls your bluff and you are playing the real strategy described on the hidden card, you may play that real strategy a second time on that turn.  If your opponent calls your bluff, and it is a bluff, he may use the actual strategy displayed by your hidden card against you, or he may use the strategy you declared against you, before proceeding to his turn.  If your adversary does not call your bluff, you may enact your declared strategy regardless of the actual strategy on the card hidden behind the Queen of Hearts.  In this latter case, you do not have to reveal your bluff. 


Jack of Hearts – Place the Jack of Hearts on the center and replace it with any strategy card previously removed from the game.  Play that strategy on your present turn.  Alternatively, replace the Jack of Hearts, plus any two other strategy cards in your hand, with three of your opponent's cards on any turn where you forced your opponent to reveal his hand.  Remove the Jack of Hearts and your replaced strategy cards from the game.  You opponent draws his replacement cards from the deck.    


Ten of Hearts – Place the Ten of Hearts on the center.  Your opponent must show you all the cards in his hand.  Proceed with the rest of your turn by building a strategy trick or enacting another strategy card from your hand.


Nine of Hearts – Place the Nine of Hearts on the Ace of Spades any time your opponent uses the Ace of Spades to eliminate a given strategy trick.  This will give you the opportunity to fill out the remaining four suites in the original strategy trick with new cards, without suffering the consequences of losing the original strategy trick.  You can make no other moves on your turn of those turns following until you completely fill out the replacement strategy trick. 



Eight of Hearts – Play any other strategy card in your hand while holding the Eight of Hearts in your hand.  If your opponent plays a counter strategy to your other strategy card that you do not like, place the Eight of Hearts on the center and take back your original move.  Your opponent also takes back any cards he played.  Do not draw any new cards at this time.  Proceed with an alternative move for that turn.


Seven of Hearts – Place the Seven of Hearts on the center.  Shuffle and randomly select any strategy card already played on the center.  Proceed with the rest of your turn, which could include playing the randomly selected card. 


Six of Hearts – Replace any other heart on the table already used by any player within a strategy trick with the Six of Hearts.  Enact the strategy on that replaced card.



Five of Hearts – Place the Five of Hearts on the center.  Place two other strategy cards face up and one strategy cards face down from the cards in your hand.  Your opponent can choose either to accept to receive the effect of your choice of one of the two face up cards without the option to oppose that choice, or he can choose to receive the effect of his choice of one of the face up cards and the card that is face down with the option to oppose either of them or both.  Enact the strategy or strategies selected against your opponent. 



Four of Hearts – Complete a four card vertical or horizontal sequence on the table that includes any mix of suite members and take the points gained as if you had properly constructed strategy trick.  If your opponent calls your bluff by challenging the improper construction of your strategy trick, and you can present the Four of Hearts, he loses one point and your strategy trick becomes permanent as is.  If your opponent does not call your bluff, continue play with the bluff maintained, or replace duplicated suit members with the proper cards on a successive turn and return the replaced cards to your hand.  If you take this action when you do not have the Four of Hearts, which is a perfectly legal bluff, and your opponent calls your bluff, you lose all points gained with the false strategy trick plus lose two additional points.  In this latter case, remove all cards in the false strategy trick from the game. 


Three of Hearts – Place the Three of Hearts on the center.  Trade the highest card in your opponent’s hand for the strategy card from your hand of your choice.  On your opponent’s next turn, he must play your strategy card against you.


Two of Hearts – Place the Two of Hearts on the center to withdraw from the game.  If you are losing, the score stays as is at the time you play the card.  If you are winning, your point total is reduced to one point less than your opponent’s current score. 


Wild Cards


Both wild cards below may be used to build a strategy trick as any suite member chosen.


Red Star – Play the Red Star card on top of a strategy card your opponent just placed on the table.  Flip a coin.  If you win the toss, you can take over your opponent’s strategy card and play it against him.  If your opponent wins, he can play the same strategy against you two additional times on that turn, for a total of three executions.

Black Star – Place the Black Star card on the center.  If your adversary chooses not to make his next move, the game is over between you and that adversary.  If he chooses to ignore your offer to conclude the game and play his next turn, any attempt to end the game on his part before all cards from the deck have been drawn, that is not otherwise accepted by you, is an automatic loss to him.


XI. Resolving Rule Interpretation Conflicts


Art of War Assertion is an evolving game.  Should you ever have a conflict with an opponent on the interpretation of a rule above and cannot come to a resolution, write down your best interpretation of the rule, have your opponent do the same, flip a coin, and proceed with the winning interpretation.   Alternatively, have a third party moderator decide.  E-mail the point of contention to info@centerforadvantage.com so that we can address the issue and include a clarification in these rules. 


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