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Welcome to the Matrix.
Thirteen is a shedding card game that's sometimes called the national card game of Vietnam! There it's known as Tiến lên, in English it's known as Thirteen. It's a fairly simple game, but does require some strategy to play it well.
The objective of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards.
The game is played with a standard 52 card deck. The rank of cards from low to high is:
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Jack Queen King Ace 2
The unusual thing here is that the 2 is the highest card. It's also a special card in that it cannot be used in any sequences.
The suits also have a rank. The suits from low to high are:
Spades♠, Clubs♣, Diamonds♦, Hearts♥
The suit rank is less important than the normal card rank though, and only comes into effect if you have two cards with the same rank. E.g. a 5 of spades is always higher than a 4 of hearts, even though spades is the lowest suit and hearts is the highest suit, because 5 is higher than 4 and that's more important. But if you have a 5 of spades and a 5 of hearts then the 5 of hearts would be considered higher because the rank is the same but hearts is higher than spades.
In real life there can be 2 or more players in the game, here on CardGames.io we always have 4 players. Each player gets dealt 13 cards. The player with the 3 of spades starts the first round of the game. He has to play that card first, but it can be part of a combination. In later rounds the winner of the last round starts and doesn't have to start with the 3 of spades.
When the table is empty and a player is playing he can play a few different types of combinations. Those are:
Once a player has put out a combination the other players have to try to play the same type of combination with a higher rank. E.g. if the first player puts out a single card, a 5 lets say, then the other players can only put out single cards on top of it. If the first player puts out a pair of cards the others must also put out a pair, with a higher rank. If a player can't play a higher ranking combination of the same type he must say Pass. If no player can put out a higher combination than what's on the table, they all say Pass and the cards are removed from the table. The player who had the final combination on the table gets to play next and can play any combination he wants, since the table is now empty.
A player is allowed to Pass even if he has cards that he could play. However, if he does that he will have to keep passing until the current cards have been cleared from the table.
Understanding the ranking and how it works is very important. We talked about the suit rank before, e.g. a H5 is higher than a C5, and so you can play the H5 on top of the C5.
For pairs you can play the same numerical rank if the highest card of the pair is higher than the highest card of the pair on the table. So you can can play C5 H5 on top of D5 S5 because H5 is higher than D5. Or you can play any pair of 6's or higher on top of any pair of 5's because numerical rank matters more than suit rank.
For sequences you can play another sequence if the highest card of your sequence is higher than the highest card of the sequence on the table. Again, it's all about the highest card of the combination. So you can play C5 H6 D7 on top of D5 D6 C7 because D7 is higher than C7. Or you can play any three card sequence that starts on a higher numerical rank, e.g. starts from 6.
It sounds more complicated than it is. Basically you always have to play the same type of combination as the one that's on the table and the highest card in your combination has to be higher than the highest card in the combination on the table.
2 is the highest card in the deck. However, there are a couple of combinations known as bombs that can be played on top of 2's as follows:
The player that finishes all his cards first wins the round and gets 3 points. The other players keeps playing. The second player to finish gets 2 points, the third gets 1 point and the fourth gets 0 points. The first player to get 10 points or more wins the game. If two players get to 10 in the same round and have the same score, then the game continues until there's only one winner. That's not in the original rules, but we prefer it here at CardGames.io, it's nicer to have one final winner rather than many!
Some versions of the game allow "Instant Win" if you get dealt four 2's, or a sequence from 3 to ace. We don't use that rule here on CardGames.io.
You can also view an excellent video that explains the game at gathertogethergames.com, which is a very good page with rules for card games.
Just a quick note about how selecting and playing cards works. When you click on a card you select it, it moves up slightly. Once you've selected cards that form a legal move they will be played automatically. E.g. there are two 5's on the table. As soon as you've clicked on two 6's in your hand they will be played. If you have selected one 6 and want to deselect it and select 7's instead, just click again on the selected 6 and it will be deselected and you're free to select 7s.
There's a "Play" button next to your player, but you really only have to use it when you're playing onto an empty table and are playing fewer cards than you can. E.g. you have three 6's, but you only want to play two of them because you want to use the third one for a sequence. Then once you've selected 2 sixes you can press the Play button to play just those two sixes. If you on the other hand selected all three 6's then we will play them for you because we know that you can't add any more cards to that play.
I heard about this game when I was advertising our app and someone said that if I would make Tien Len I would get all of Vietnam to play on my site or in my app. I looked at the rules and realized that it was almost exactly like a game I already knew under the Icelandic name "Rassgat" (not going to say exactly what it means, but it's a part of your anatomy...) and it was a game I had actually thought about making because I really liked it. I also didn't really find any good versions of it on the web, although there are plenty of apps for it, so I figured I could make a decent web version and hopefully get some people to play it. The english name for it is Thirteen, and since this is an english language site I use Thirteen as the main title, but it really is Tien Len.
So now I've made it and am waiting for all of Vietnam to show up! If you are from Vietnam and found this game online please send me an email and let me know 🙂.
This is version 2930 of Thirteen.