Replenishing cards and “right action”

As has been mentioned before, managing cards in hand is one of the crucial resource-allocation decisions players face when playing House of Cards. They literally represent your ability to act or resist being acted upon. Given this situation, how does one keep from being overwhelmed at the first sign of opposition?

The game adopts the conceit that the unseen forces surrounding a Bearer tend to congregate around like patterns. What this means in practical terms is that using cards to act “correctly” leads to replenishing the card after it is used. When using a card of the proper suit for an action (such as Cups for a social interaction), the player gets to draw a new card from the deck to replace it immediately. The four suits represent very imminent physical matters and concerns: the four elements, mortal professions, and other terrestrial forces, and so their ebb and flow is visible to the casual observer.

On another level, characters who act in accordance with their Archetype for an entire scene get to refill their hand at the end of the scene. Why only at the end of a scene? Because Archetypes operate on grander cosmic scales, and as such are far more interested in patterns of behavior over time than in momentary behavior. (On a meta-textual level, this was a conscious design decision intended to circumvent a perceived problem in some games featuring reward systems for playing in-character that in practice only require players to toss in the occasional action to “hit the button” and get the benefit.)

4 thoughts on “Replenishing cards and “right action””

  1. So the player has two options for how to use their resources- is the second option more for players who lack expertise in an area prevalent or important in the current scene? A misanthrope who has to attend a party and interact with people, for example. This player would play in keeping with character (and perhaps deliberately fail an action or three) and run out of cards but would then refill their hand after the scene. Is that correct?

    1. Thanks for the question! That is a valid consideration: much like some games that have defined disadvantages that give you a benefit for adhering to their restrictions (the first one that comes to mind is Nobilis with its Afflictions/Bonds/etc., that give you extra MPs when you are prevented from acting how you’d like), you can choose to behave really strictly according to your character type and get your whole hand back later. Hopefully, though, you’ll have at least one card of the appropriate suit, which means you can still make a concerted action if need be, and there’s nothing saying your misanthropic character can’t put on a really exaggerated fake smile and then grumble every time nobody’s looking – it’s in character, but still interacting. I doubt a good referee would penalize you for it, at least.

      Oh, and running out of cards is bad, or, at least, really risky. But more on that later.

    2. A misanthrope who has to attend a party and interact with people, for example.

      I should apologize to your character for that one! Although she’s more shy and defensive than misanthropic, I guess. And hey, she made friends!

      1. Hah! Was not thinking of her at all at that time, actually. But similar case, yeah 🙂

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