Fallout: New Vegas -- How to Play Caravan
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 22nd Nov 2010
Joker: Played against Ace, 2-10. Effects change based on whether it's an ace or a numbered card (see below). Multiple jokers may be played on the same card.
Ace: Value of 1. Jokers played on aces remove all other non-face cards of the ace's suit from the table. E.g. a joker played on an Ace of Spades removes all spades (except face cards, and that card, specifically) from the table.
2-10: Listed value. Jokers played on these cards remove all other cards of this value from the table. E.g. a joker played on a 4 of Hearts removes all 4's (other than that card specifically) from the table.
Jack: Played against ace, 2-10. Removes that card along with any face cards attached to it.
Queen: Played against ace, 2-10. Reverses the current direction of the hand and changes the current suit of the hand. Multiple queens may be played on the same card.
King: Played against ace, 2-10. Adds the value of that card again. E.g. a king played on a 9 adds 9 to that hand. Multiple kings may be played on the same card for multiplicative effects. E.g. 4+ king = 8. 4+ 2 kings = 16.
A player's caravan is considered sold when the value of its cards is over 20 and under 27. The other player may still outbid by increasing the value of their opposing pile while staying within the 21-26 range and likely will if you give them the chance.
When each of the three competing caravans has sold, the game is over. In the event that one of the three caravan values are tied between players, the game continues until all three caravans have sold. The player with two or more sales wins the pot. *
Now all of that sounds simple enough, but it is a rather uninspired explanation; one that requires the player to re-read it many times in order to work it out. It is sort of like having a math teacher who can only go by the book in teaching the subject, and because they cannot make it interesting, you end up convinced that math is boring when in truth it is a rich and beautiful symphony of order. You get the idea?
* Note on Winning
When you are faced with a situation where two of the routes are tied, you need to break that tie by either reducing the total of your opponents route using a Jack, or increasing it beyond the limit of 26 by playing a King on it. You can use a Joker here, but you have to be careful doing it, because the Joker could also impact your cards. Ideally when using a Joker to break a tie, you want to select a card that you have only one of, but your opponent has several -- and then play the Joker on your card, which will leave it in place, while removing his cards from play.
As mentioned earlier, when you rescue Ringo in Good Springs, he gives you a deck of cards. You can also add to that deck by finding and purchasing individual cards as you adventure in the game. Once you actually arrive in New Vegas you can obtain a deck from each of the main casinos as well, though all that these really change is the look of your deck.
After you place your bet(s) and your opponent accepts it/them, you begin to play as outlined above, building each of your caravans to beat your opponents. If you get your number above 26 on any of your caravans you have to use a Jack or a Joker in order to remove a card or cards to fix it quickly.
Remember that Aces are low (1) and face cards have no numerical value on their own. Refer to the quoted text file above for those effects -- but here is something that the game description did not tell you: you can place your face cards on your opponent's caravans to disrupt or overload their caravans!
When you progress to tougher opponents you will want to use your face cards strategically against them like that -- because for some reason they do not do that to you, you do not have to worry about that part of the game roosting on your caravans! Often when you have 25 and they have 26 it is easier and makes more sense to drop a multiplier on to their caravan, causing it to go overburden than trying to tie up the match by adding one to your own caravan, if you see what I mean?
Actual Game Play
This is probably the most confusing part of the game for most players. Even when they understand the rest of it, the actual process by which a game completes and ends is still a mystery to them, so the first thing we need to do is dispel that mystery!
The event that settles (ends) a game is all three caravans on one side arriving at the targeted loads -- in other words all three caravans on one side (or both) are between 21 and 26, and the game ends! Who Wins? Once the game ends, determining the winner is simple! The winner is the player who has two or more caravans that are higher in load than their opponent but that are not overburdened.