Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Three Ranger Limit

For those not familiar with 1st edition AD&D, there was a rule that you could only have 3 rangers in one party. There's not a big reason given for this, and so the whys of it aren't exactly clear, but since three rangers can do some fairly hefty damage to an army of humanoids or giants (adding their level to damage with each attack), it may be a balance issue. Since rangers have high ability score requirements, they are kinda rare, so it's hard to reach the "Three Ranger Limit". However, it also sounds like the name of a card game. Thus, from Deeper Pulleditoutofmyassistan, I bring you the game "Three Ranger Limit".

Three Ranger Limit: A Card Game for Two or More Players

"Three Ranger Limit" is a points-based card game, loosely based on Cribbage, where the goal is to make straights, flushes or totals of 11 by playing off previous cards.

To begin play, the cards are cut and each player draws a single card. High card wins, with cards running Ace through King, and suits running Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades (so the king of spades always wins, and the Ace of Hearts always loses). The deck is then shuffled, and each player is dealt a hand of five. The top card of the deck is then turned over and play begins. If the card turned over is a Jack (Ranger), the player who won the draw is automatically awarded two points.

Each player, on their turn, lays down a single card, and uses its value in relation to previous cards to determine points. Aces are one, number cards are worth their value, Jacks (Rangers) are 11, Queens and Kings are 10. Each time the total of 11 is reached EXACTLY by one or more consecutive cards, it is worth 2 points; Jacks are, therefore, always worth 2 points, in addition to any other combinations they may complete. Each time there is a pair played for two consecutive cards, it is worth two points, while a three of a kind is worth 6 and a 4 of a kind is worth 8. Furthermore, every time three or more consecutive cards would make a straight, it is worth a number of points equal to the number of cards; if the next player adds a card that continues the sequence, it is worth the new length of the straight. Flushes are likewise worth the number of cards in the flush, beginning at 3 points. These combinations are cumulative, and straights do not need to be played in strict order; 7 5 6 is a straight, as is 5 6 7 or 5 7 6.

After the player has played his one card and determined points, he draws another card, signaling that it is the other players turn. Under the optional "kender" rules, any points played that the previous player did not claim can now be claimed by the other player.

Play continues until the Three Ranger Limit is reached... that is, until three Jacks have been played.

For example, if Adam and Beth are playing. Adam wins the draw, and the first card is the Jack of Spades. Adam gets two points. He then plays the Jack of Diamonds. This gives him another 2 points for the Jack, and 2 points for the pair of Jacks. It also means that the next Jack played will end the game.

Beth plays a 10 of hearts. No points.

Adam plays a 9 of hearts, giving him 3 more points, for the run of 3 cards (Jack 10 9) for a total of 9.

Beth plays the 8 of hearts. She gets four points for the "run" of 4 cards (Jack 10 9 8), and three points for the run of 3 hearts. She's now at 7.

Adam lays down a 6 of Diamonds. No help.

Beth plays a 7 of Diamonds, which continues the straight from before (J 10 9 8 6 7), giving her another 5 points and the lead.

Adam plays another 6 of spades. This does NOT continue the straight, because the previous cards (6 7 6) do not constitute a straight run of numbers. It is also not a pair because of the intervening 7.

Beth puts down a 4 of clubs, her best option.

Adam responds with an Ace. His total of the previous three cards is 11, giving him 2 points for the 11 (6+4+1).

Beth, not wanting Adam to catch up, lays down the Jack of Clubs. She gets two points for the Jack, and ends the game with the Three Ranger Limit. She also wins, because she has the most points.


  1. I doubt the three ranger limit was there for balance - 1e was not much concerned with balance. Rather I assume it has to do with how the rangers of the north were described in Tolkein.

  2. I doubt the three ranger limit was for balance issues - balance was not that great a concern in 1e. Rather I had always assumed it was because Tolkein's rangers of the north were described as never meeting in large groups.