Rank Royale


Rank Royale is a design exercise card game.  The goal of this design is to use hidden information to create Yomi between two player.  Each player can only use a deck of playing card to play this game.


Rank Royale is a 2-player card game that is both simple and fast paced. Players must make choices based on predicting what their opponent will do while simultaneously balancing risk and reward.


The objective of Rank Royale is to force the other player discarding all the cards in their hand by beating their card with a winning tier. Each player start with a hand of six cards, and play one card they desire simultaneously. The losing player needs to discard corresponding number of cards based on the winner’s card, or the winner can draw a card from the deck depends on the situation. In the end of the round, each player draws one card from the deck.

Designer’s Note

  • Only the rank of the card will be considered when comparing the cards.
  • The number of cards that the losing player needs to discard is based on the winner’s tier.
  • When both cards are in the same tier, the player with a higher rank wins.
  • There are two winning situations:
    1. When the player wins by tier, their opponent is forced to discard cards accordingly.
    2. When the player wins by rank, they can draw a card from the deck.
  • The only tie condition is when two player play cards that have the same rank.

Rank of the cards

Number of cards to discard

Low Tier Cards

1, 2, 3, 4


Middle Tier Cards

5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


High Tier Cards

J, Q, K


Low Tier Cards < Middle Tier Cards < High Tier Cards < Low Tier Cards


One decks of playing card for each player.


Each player shuffles their deck and facing down. Draw the top six cards as their initial hand.

Phases and Rounds

There three phases to a round in Rank Royale, and there is no limit for rounds in each game.

  1. Play a Card

Each player plays the card they desire simultaneously. Each player will see their rank and their opponent’s rank.

  1. Discard or Draw

Based on the winning condition, players either draw a card, discard card(s), or do nothing

  1. Draw a Card

Each player draws a card from the deck to end the round.


A player loses when they are forced to discard a number of cards greater than the number of cards they have in their hand.

Designer’s Note

It is ok for a player to have 0 card left after discarding since they can still draw a card after the Discard or Draw phase.


Designers: Yukun Drew, Darrell Sweet

Date: Jan. 2017

Design Process

The Tier System

We want to create a situation where there is no absolute optimal choice.  At the same time, not all choices are equivalent such as Rock, Paper, and Scissors.  If it is purely based on the rank of the card, then players will generally pick the largest card in their hand.  As a result, we create the tier system to encourage player making their strategy.

Also, we implement high risk, high reward concept into the game, giving players a reason to play high risk cards.  Notice that the Low Tier Cards are high risk cards since there are 6 cards can beat them, but there are only 3 cards that they can beat.  We did simple math to balance the discard rate for every tier.

Public Information Vs Hidden Information

It is clear that the cards in each player’s hand are hidden information, which create the tension between the two players.  At the same time, both players can see the card(s) discarded, which is a public information shared between the two.  This will help both player to make their next strategy, and helps to create Yomi.

 Discard Vs Draw

We choose to allow the winner draw a card from their deck when they win within the same tier.  This can help players to recover for their lost and create the tension by extending the game play time.

More about Yomi

In competitive games, there is little more valuable than knowing the mind of the opponent, which the Japanese call “yomi.”

Reading: Spies of the Mind

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