Triplica is a card game you can play by yourself, or with up to 6 people.
There are two decks of cards. One is composed of 36 “Goal Cards,” the other of 60 “Play Cards.”
There are 6 different shapes, each of a different color. The Play Cards each consist of a unique combination of 3 of those shapes.
There are 3 different ways to play Triplica (oddly enough), and in each the object is to win Goal Cards by lining up Play Cards so that three of the same symbols are in a row, diagonally or horizontally.
The best, and clearly the most fun way to discover the properties of this unique set of cards is to begin with the solitaire version, even if you’re not alone. Here, the Goal Cards are organized into 6 face-up piles, each pile having the same kind of Goal Card. Four Play Cards are placed vertically, face-up, in a line below the Goal Card piles. The rest of the deck of Play Cards is face down. Cards are then played, one at a time, from the Play Card pile. You place the cards face up on top of any one of the Play Cards already on the table. Every time you create a line of three of the same symbols in a horizontal row or diagonal, you take the corresponding Goal Card. When you play a Play Card you can set it down in either orientation, as long as it is vertical. So, for example, if a diamond is on the top, you can place the card so that the diamond is on the bottom. Thus, each time you place a card you have 8 choices as to where (which of the four piles) and how (up or down) you place it.
As you continue playing, you steadily exhaust the Goal Cards. This, of course, is what you want to do. On the other hand, every Goal Card you “win” gives you one less goal to play for. Once you win all the diamond Goal Cards, making a row of diamonds with your Play Cards just doesn’t pay.
The object of the solitaire is to win all the Goal Cards before you exhaust the Play Cards. Yes, there’s definitely a luck factor. But there’s also just enough strategic choice for you to feel proud of yourself for winning, and to blame chance if you don’t. You can also keep score, if you’re of the scoring bent – giving yourself one point for every card remaining in the deck of Play Cards, and losing one point for every Goal Card remaining when you exhaust all the Play Cards.
Depending on how many players, you play onto 3-5 piles of Play Cards. Players are then dealt 3 Play Cards, and then take turns, placing one of their Play Cards on any of the stacks and replenishing their hand. The object is to play a card so that it creates a line of three symbols that match the symbol on the player’s Goal Card.
In the Single Play version, each player gets 5 Goal Cards and one Play Card.
In the All Play version, regardless of whose turn it is, anyone whose Goal Card is matched as a result of someone’s play gets to claim a goal. Since it is possible that more than one set of symbols will be aligned as a result of the placement of a single card, more than one player can claim a goal. In the Single Play version, only the player whose turn it is gets to claim the goal.
As for the Single Play version, the designer notes: “Single Play may seem somewhat easier than All Play towards the start of the game (you have 5 goals to pick from to score). However it is much more challenging towards the end of the game when you have only one goal remaining. At this stage of the game you need to work on getting your oppoents to leave you the scoring opportunity you need often enough that you can take advantage of it when you draw the right card. Even if you opponent(s) have a good idea of what your single remaining goal might be, they will not always to able to defend effectively because they too are still stuck playing the top card from the deck.”
Regardless of which version, with every card played you have to be careful not to be too obvious about what your goal is, while you’re trying to block your opponents from getting their goals, while you’re trying to get the cards aligned so that you can get 3 of the right symbols (those that match your Goal Card) in a row.
The two versions are different enough to appeal to different players at different times. The concept is rich enough to encourage players to make up their own variations. The basic goal of aligning three symbols is easy enough for a child of 7 to understand. The strategic goals complex enough to challenge an adult. A game takes around 15 minutes to play, which is exactly long enough to make you want to play again and again.