Queen’s Torment

Queen’s Torment is a deceptively simple card game (at least for goblins and the like) that uses much of the same betting and bluffing techniques common to poker. Below are the cards that make up a deck (5 faces making 15 total cards, and the games is played by 2-5 players).

The cards are either red or black, and traditionally they have symbols of actual (red or black) chess pieces on the cards (but there would of course be all kinds of deck variations as well).

Card Name (Abr.) Value # Cards in Deck
Queen (Q) 5 1
King (K) 4 2
Knight (C) 3 3
Rook (R) 2 4
Pawn (P) 1 4
Black Pawn (P) 0 1
Deck of Queen's Torment Cards

Deck of Queen’s Torment Cards

While there are countless variations of this game (and certain establishments, such as the Queen of Blades cater to many of them) what follows are generally considered to be the traditional rules for the game.

The game is played with 2-5 players and a minimum bid is established for each bet. Players must all buy in at the same amount (typically 100 units of whatever the minimum bid is, Bugs, Octos, Crowns, etc). Play usually continues until every player but one is out of money, but players who leave games early must typically at least leave their buy-in behind on the table.

Each player places an ante of the minimum bid in the pot, and then starting from the dealer’s left each player is dealt a total of three cards in a clockwise direction (“deosil” though some prefer to play dealing “widdershins”). Each card has a numerical value from 0 through 5 meaning the total value of the three cards could add up to any number from 2 to 13. Players look at their cards but leave them face down, and the player to the left of the dealer makes the opening bet (“checking” is typically not allowed, or is at least frowned upon). The next player responds and a series of bets, raises, and calls proceeds until the “pot is right”.

Each player then reveals a card of their choice by turning it face up, and then the player to the left of the opening better starts of a second round of bets, raises, and calls. A player may fold at any time after the first batch of cards are revealed, but doing so forfeits any monies wagered. After the “pot is right” a second time, the players each reveal a second card of their choice, and the next player to the left starts the final round of bets.

Once everyone has either called or folded, the final cards (only of those who stayed in) are revealed, and the highest total card value wins the pot. In the case of a mathematical tie, the player with the highest single valued card is declared the winner. If this results in a tie again, the second highest card is compared, and so on. In the fairly unlikely event that both hands hold identical cards, the pot of that round is traditionally divided in half between the equal victors. The cards are then gathered and reshuffled, and the role of dealer passes to the dealer’s left and the players ante in again for a new round.

Over the years, many slang terms have developed to describe certain combinations of cards. What follows are some of the most common:

  • Q+K+K = (13) “Queen’s Torment” – where the game takes its name. Tradition says it refers to the woes queens experience balancing the wills of kings and princes.
  • Q+K+C = (12) “Kingdom”
  • K+K+C = (11) “War”
  • K+C+C = (10) “(My) Armies”
  • C+C+C = (9) “(The) Cavalry”
  • C+C+R = (8) “Sieges”
  • C+R+R = (7) “Reeves”
  • R+R+R = (6) “The Walls” (sometimes more commonly: “Balls”)
  • P+P+P = (3) “Paupers” – if the hand contains the Black Pawn it’s (2) “Beggars”