Goblin Market
Designed by P.D. Magnus
Players 3-6
Length 30 minutes
Extra Material coins

a magical little auction game

Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men
With their shrill repeated cry,
"Come buy, come buy."

Dealing with goblins is always a struggle with temptation, leading through the loss of innocence, ultimately revealing the power of sisterhood. Yet goblins are oblivious to symbolism. For them, it is just a matter of economics.

This Decktet game, inspired by Christina Rossetti's poem of the same name, originally appeared in the Decktet Book. It is played as a series of auctions in which players buy cards on the goblins' terms: They'll give you coins for nothing, until you've won some auctions —- but later, your only way to get more coins will be from your fellow players.

In addition to an extended Decktet, the game requires tokens. In the rules, the tokens are called 'coins'. You can use chips, glass beads, pennies, or whatever you please. About twenty-five per player should be plenty.


Shuffle the basic deck; it forms the Auction Deck. Shuffle the pawn.pngs and court.pngs; these comprise the Goblin Deck. (The Excuse won't be used. If you don't have court.pngs, just use the pawn.pngs.)

Each player starts with ten coins. The remaining coins should be placed together to form the bank.

Over the course of the game, players will use coins to buy more cards from the Auction Deck. Cards purchased in this way serve two purposes. First, cards are the primary way of scoring points at the end of the game; see Scoring, below. Second, cards may provide a source of further coins. If you buy a 7 and another player wins a later auction with a bid of seven, seventeen, or twentyseven coins, then you will profit by their win.

The youngest player starts the bidding in the first auction. In subsequent auctions, bidding starts with the player who won the previous auction.

Game play

The game consists of a series of auctions. Each involves several steps. Here's a summary first, with details following.

A. A card is revealed from the Auction Deck to determine the size of the auction.
B. Cards for auction are revealed from the Auction Deck.
C. Players bid until there is an unchallenged high bid.
D. The high bidder decides whether to take all of the cards or share them, and the cards are distributed.
E. Players who did not get cards from the auction may get coins if they already own cards that are at or just below the level of the winning bid; for example, if the winning bid is six coins and they own a 6, 5, or 4.
F. All players get a chance for a few coins, depending on a card from the Goblin Deck.

A. At the beginning of an auction, turn over the top card of the Auction Deck. This card determines the size of the next auction: If the card is an Ace, the next auction will be for one card. If the card is a number (rank 2-9), the next auction will be for two cards. If the card is a Crown crown.png, the next auction will be for three cards.

The first card only determines the size of the auction. Set it aside. It will not be available for purchase in this game.

If there are three or fewer cards left in the Auction Deck, don't flip over a card to determine the size of the next auction. Instead, the remaining cards will be sold in the final auction.

B. Flip over the indicated number of cards (one, two, or three) from the Auction Deck. Put them in the middle of the table, so that everyone can get a clear look at them.

C. The first bidder may either pass or name any price, up to the total number of coins the player possesses.

The player on the left of the first bidder must then either pass or bid. If the first player bid, then the second bidder is only allowed to bid a higher number of coins. Bidding continues clockwise around the table. A player who has passed may not re-enter bidding.

If all players pass without bidding, then the card (or cards) are discarded and a new auction is held. Otherwise, bidding continues until there is an unchallenged high bid. The high bidder wins the auction.

D. The winning bidder may decide to take all of the cards which were up for auction. If so, they pay coins equal to their bid; other bidders pay nothing.

Alternately, if the auction was for more than one card, the winning bidder may decide to take only one of the cards. Then the second place bidder takes one of the cards; if the winning bidder was the only player to bid, the remaining cards are simply discarded. If the auction was for the three cards, then the third place bidder (if there was one) takes the remaining card.

Every player who gets cards must pay the amount of their bid to the bank. Cards from the auction go face up on the table in front of the player who won them.

In a three card auction, the winning bidder may not take two of the cards; the choice is to take all of them of pick one.

Example: The auction is for three cards. Elise opens with a modest bid of two coins. Morgan then bids seven coins, and Evan bids eight. This is too much for Elise, who passes. Morgan and Evan bid back and forth, until Morgan bids fourteen, Evan bids fifteen, and Morgan passes. Evan must pay fifteen coins to the bank. He decides to take only one of the cards. After he has chosen which card to take, Morgan must pay fourteen coins to the bank and choose one of the remaining cards. Finally, Elise must pay two coins and take the remaining card.

E. Players who did not get cards from the auction may earn coins. This ‘sisterhood money’ requires that other players bid amounts which match your cards.

Consider the last digit of the winning high bid: Players earn three coins for each card of that rank, two coins for each card of the rank below that, and one coin for each card of the rank two below.

Example: Shar wins an auction with a bid of nine coins. Because Shar's bid ends in 9, other players collect three coins for each 9 they hold, two coins for each 8 they hold, and one coin for each 7 they hold. Because she won the auction, Shar collects no coins regardless of what cards she holds.

A bid ending in 1 pays out to players holding Aces. A bid ending in 0 pays out to players holding crown.pngs. For these purposes, ranks wrap around; crown.pngs are considered to be immediately below Aces.Example: Tarrant wins an auction with a bid of eleven coins. Other players collect three coins for each Ace they hold, two coins for each crown.png they hold, and one coin for each 9 they hold.

F. All players get a chance at a little ‘goblin money’, which represents the goblins' enticements to buy next time. Once you've done too much business with them, they won't make you offers like this.

Flip over the top card of the Goblin Deck. Players collect one coin from the bank for each suit on the Pawn or Court revealed that is not on any of the cards that they own. If this was the last card in the Goblin Deck, reshuffle the Pawns and Courts to replenish it.

Example: Raphael owns one card, crown.pngsuns.png. The Goblin Deck card is the Harvest pawn.pngmoons.pngsuns.pngleaves.png. Raphael collects two coins.


The game ends when the Auction Deck is exhausted.

Players score points for cards in the three suits of which they have the most (one point for each card with that suit) and lose points for cards in the remaining suits (again, one point per card).

Score for both suits on each number card. This means that each number card is worth either +2, 0, or -2 points (depending on whether its suits are positive, mixed, or negative). Each A or crown.png is worth +1 or -1 points.

The player with the most points wins. If there is a tie for most points, then the tie is broken by most positive points (points in a player's three most numerous suits).

We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits;
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?



Playtesters included Joe Levy, Cristyn Magnus, Shirah Pollock, Karen Traite, Chris DeLeo, John Milanese, Doug Hoover, Dan Purdy, Joe Fritz, Maya Kiehl, Quentin Hudspeth, Bryan Keneally, Mike Chapman, and Ilya Farber.


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