I’ve tried to find a way to make the game of Caravan work in real life. I’ve had to ignore some bits of it to try make it simple enough to play and so any set of normal playing cards can make it work.

One properly loaded Caravan and two that aren’t properly loaded.

This card game comes from Fallout New Vegas. It is based on the idea of travelling traders whose method of transporting goods is a pack animal known as a Caravan. This is a two player game.

You will need:

  • A flat play space 
  • At least one deck of normal playing cards

In Fallout the Caravan decks are customisable and consist or roughly 30 cards. to keep things simple in real life I recommend shuffling a 52 deck well and splitting it in half to get 26 cards each, then shuffling these 26 decks again to make sure they’re random. For subsequent rounds it may keep if air to unite the 52, shuffle and split them again.

Each player will have seven cards in their starting hands and each will draw a new card when a number card is played. The first three turns are spent placing number cards to start the Caravans. Note that the Ace counts as 1.

The aim of the game is to get more properly loaded Caravans than your opponent. To properly load a Caravan the number cards must add up to any number from 21 to 26, any lower than 21 is not properly loaded and higher than 26 is too much and the Caravan won’t travel. Each individual Caravan can have a maximum of seven number cards. (Refer to image above)

Cards can only be placed in either ascending or descending order, to switch the direction you must use a card of the same suit (if you put a 5 of spades down, then a 6 it means your next card must be higher unless your next card matches the suit of the 6. If a 4 follows the 5 your next card must be lower unless your next card matches the suit of the 4). You cannot play the same card value twice in a row (a 5 can’t follow a 5). (Refer to image above)

This is basically a numbers game but the numbers stop at ten. Face cards can be placed on any card currently in a Caravan, it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or your opponent’s. The face cards have added effects, these are:

  • Kings – Double the value of the card it’s placed on. Kings placed on other kings double the total (2+King=4, then +King=8). (Refer to image above)
  • Queens will allow a change of direction and suit. This is regardless of the Queen’s own suit. (Refer to image above)
  • Jacks will allow you to remove the card they’re placed on from the field.

A whole Caravan can be removed which will use a turn. Alternatively, a card can be discarded to draw a new one, this also uses a turn.

Since the Fallout version of the game can calculate when you’re going to win or lose it ends matches early. In real life the only way to truly know this is to run out of cards. Whoever has at least two properly loaded Caravans (from 21-26) when there’re no more cards wins. Running out of cards in your hand will also make you lose as your Caravan trading company can no longer compete.

Another face card in the game is the Joker which in the game will remove a lot of cards from the board. Because using a Joker will make this more complicated to play I thought it best to keep things simple and not write about them. For more information click here.

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