Nertz: Game Play

Each player must have his or her own (clearly differentiated) standard deck of fifty-two playing cards, without jokers. Any number of players can (theoretically) play, though most games have two to eight players. The game requires a large center area, such as a table. There are two types of playing areas: the central area and personal areas for each player or team. The personal area can only be played on by the individual; the center area anyone can play on. Starting out, players count out thirteen cards face down, and turn the topmost card up. This is referred to as the Bone Pile (aka Nertz Pile or Pounce Pile depending on preference). Then each player puts four cards face up next to the Bone Pile. These cards are referred to as starting cards, because they begin the four separate, playable card stacks. In Nertz, there can never be more than four starter cards per each individual’s personal area. Play begins with one player calling "Go." For the first hand, it is customary for the player with the best five card starting poker hand showing to say "go." After the first hand, the last place player, as a consolation, is said to be in the "Driver's Seat" and is permitted to say "Go." Players then move the cards in numeric sequence, according to alternating color. For example, a player has these five cards to begin with: King Red, Queen Black, Jack Red, 5 Black, 6 Red. These five piles can be reduced to two, with the jack placed on the queen and then the queen placed on the king. The five can be played on the six. Once that is accomplished, a player can then move three cards off his/her Bone Pile to replace the three missing starter cards. Unlike Solitaire, any card can begin a new pile within a player’s personal playing area, not just a king. Any card that is playable on the Bone Pile can (and should) be played in any way possible. Players with aces available to play put these aces out in the center playing area. Anyone can play on card piles in the center area. Aces always begin the center piles. From there, depending on whether you are playing Standard Nertz or a variation, either a 2 or a king of the same suit goes on. In Standard Nertz, if an ace of hearts is played, a 2 of hearts can be played thereon, and then a 3 of hearts, and so on. In the center area, all cards must follow what has been previously played both in suit and in numeric sequence. In Pounce when a pile is finished off with its king the player who lays the king yells "Stop!" and the pile is removed from play. Once the pile is out of the way "Go!" is yelled and play resumes. In a variant, instead of "Stop" the player who lays the king announces "I am now invoking Lyn's Rule!" or just "Lyn's Rule," for short, to alert players that play will be disrupted while a pile is removed. Nonetheless, under the Lyn's Rule variant, the other players may continue play while the completed pile is removed from the center playing area.

Like Max-cards, each player flips over a predetermined set of cards from their remaining deck (generally one card or three cards) in search of playable cards. This is known as the turn deck. If the amount flipped is 3, then that means the player can only play the topmost of three cards within the personal playing area or the central playing area. If the third topmost card cannot be played, the next three cards are flipped, with the topmost again being the only playable card, and so on until the deck is gone through. At the very end of the deck, the bottommost card can be played regardless of whether it is the third card or not. Then the deck is turned over and the flipping begins again. While playing on one’s own five card row (which no one else can play on) can aid eliminating the bone pile, in Nertz no points are gained in this manner. To gain points, you must play on the center piles. This naturally results in a very fast-paced game, as players naturally try to play on the center piles as much as possible. Whatever player lays his/her card down first on a sequence is awarded the play. When making a play, a person may only lift one card at a time and place it on the ongoing sequence. If there are two valid plays that the person has, the person must lay the two cards down one at a time. Only one hand may be used to play to the common area, i.e. the player may not have one card in one hand waiting to play it while playing another with the other hand. The point of the game is to get rid of the Bone Pile as quickly as you can. One must either get rid of the Bone Pile or all players must run out of moves for a gaming round to end. In a variant, if all players run out of moves, each player simultaneously moves the top card of such player's turn pile to the bottome of such player's turn pile and play continues. Who ever eliminates the Bone Pile yells “Nertz!,” "Pounce!," etc. depending on personal preference, and all game play must cease immediately. If a player is in the middle of making a play in the center area when Nertz is called, the player only gets points provided the card has left the player’s hand before the call. If the player still holds the card and Nertz is called, the play is void and the player gets no points. Naturally, this only applies to plays made in the center game area. Immediately after a player eliminates his Bone Pile he should call "Nertz!" as play doesn't end until it is called. If Nertz is called in error (which has a large scoring ramification; for more info see below), the player who falsely called Nertz takes back the original card from its Bone Pile, as well as taking three more cards from its deck. These cards are taken from the top of its turn deck, regardless whether it has flipped numerous cards over. The three additional cards added to the Bone Pile are not taken from cards already turned over. If the turn deck only has one or two non-turned cards, the remaining cards are flipped over and the top one or two cards fill the remaining quota. Some critics of the game Nertz contend that it is incredibly easy to cheat if the person against whom you are playing is paying too much attention to their own cards.

[edit] Scoring
Once Nertz is called and verified, the cards in the center area are returned to their respective decks. This is why it is important to play with highly distinguishable decks, so

the points are awarded accurately and each deck’s playing integrity is maintained. Each player is awarded a predetermined number of points for each card they have played in the central area (often one point per card). Each player is then penalized a (possibly different) number of points for each card left in their bone pile (often two points per card). So, using the one/two point system, if a player has fifteen cards played in the central area, and ten cards left in their Bone Pile, they are awarded fifteen points, but penalized twenty points, for a total of negative five points. In some Nertz games, Aces are given the point value of twenty, while all other cards are worth ten. In this version of the game, Aces are double the predetermined value assigned other cards. Some scoring variations include awarding a preset point value to the person who calls Nertz. If Nertz is called incorrectly, all other players are awarded ten points, and the total amount of players times ten is taken away from the player who called it incorrectly. For example, if four people are playing, and one calls Nertz incorrectly, that player is charged 30 points, 10 points being awarded to each of the other players. In the variation where Aces are worth 20 and one of the three cards added to the player’s Bone Pile is an Ace, the points awarded to the other players is upped to 20. In this instance, the three players are each up 20 points, and the incorrect player is automatically penalized –60. Who ever calls Nertz correctly once it has been called incorrectly gets an additional 25 points. If the player who incorrectly called Nertz actually gets rid of his Bone Pile legitimately, he suffers no penalties. Players decide on an ending total (generally 500), so whoever reaches that total first wins the game. It is highly possible to never call Nertz in an entire game and still win.

[edit] Lottery Scoring
Some Nertz variations include Lotto Scoring. In Lotto Scoring, if points are taken away due to penalties, the next hand these are in lotto, and whoever scores the most gets the additional points. For example, if one player is minus 60 on Round 1, Round 2 has a lotto of 60 points. Whoever scores the highest on Round 2 gets the additional 60 points. You can also score it whoever calls Nertz gets some of the lotto points as well. However, if a player is 60 in the hole and he gets 70 points, he comes out 10 ahead, and nothing goes into lotto.

[edit] Face Cards or Low Cards Worth More
It is generally not recommended, unless in variation games such as Swinging Door Nertz, to give face cards a higher value, because other than Aces face cards are not played often in the central playing area, and if face cards are in the Bone Pile their full value is subtracted from points won. If full value is not assigned for face cards in the Bone Pile, then giving face cards higher levels result in more interesting gaming strategies. Some play that Ace through 5 is worth more.

[edit] Cards Represent Face Value

For scoring, cards can be assigned face value. 2 is 2 points, 3 is 3 points, etc. The face cards (10 through Ace) can either be 15 each with Aces 20, or Jack 11, Queen 12, King 13, and Ace either 1 or 15.