Notes for New Eleusis
Notes copyright © 1995 by David Matuszek
New Eleusis is a simulation of scientific research. The general idea is that the dealer (in the role of ``God'' or ``Nature'') thinks up a rule that governs the correct play of the cards. The other players (``Scientists'') take turns playing cards (``performing experiments'') and race one another to see who can come up with a good theory about the rule. The first player with a theory can declare himself/herself to be a ``prophet'' who can predict the results of the other player's experiments. Other players then try to bring about the overthrow of the prophet by trying to find experiments whose results cannot be predicted (thus gaining a chance to become prophet themselves).
Hints for the dealer:
- You need lots of room and at least two decks of cards. It helps if you can find miniature cards.
- The game doesn't work well for four or fewer people. More than eight can play, but the game gets too long and individual players don't get enough chances to experiment.
Hints for players:
- Really write down the rule. It helps settle arguments.
- Unless you specify otherwise, a numeric rule uses Ace=1, Jack=11, Queen=12, King=13; but you might specify, for example, that all face cards are worth 10.
- If you give a hint, make sure it isn't misleading. For example, don't say ``suits don't matter'' if your rule depends on the color of the card.
- For the best score, find a rule that is hard for some players and easy for others.
- Remember that rules are always much harder than you expect them to be.
- If a rule makes almost all plays correct, or almost all plays incorrect, it's too hard.
- A good rule should make it easy for you to determine if a card is correct. When God makes a mistake, there is no graceful way to recover.
- Generally, of course, you want to play ``correct'' cards. But if you have a theory, often you can best test it by playing cards that you think are incorrect.
- If you have a theory, but there is already a Prophet, look for special cases that you aren't quite sure about. If the Prophet has the same theory, you may be able to overthrow him/her.
- Your best ``think time'' is when it is someone else's turn, so you don't feel hurried.
- Don't spend too much time thinking when only a few cards have been played.
- You may announce at the end of someone else's turn that you wish to become prophet. Then, beginning with the player who just played and proceeding clockwise, each player in turn has the opportunity to become Prophet. If no one else elects to do so, you become Prophet immediately.
- If you have just gone out and you think you know the rule, you may forego the bonus for going out and become Prophet instead. Play proceeds. If you are overthrown, you will be dealt 8 penalty cards and will again have a hand. If you are not, add your prophet bonus to high count for your score.
There is a separate page with the rules.
Comments and suggestions may be directed to:
209 Florida Avenue NW #1
Washington, D.C. 20001-1801
Eleusis was invented by Robert Abbott in 1956, and improved to New Eleusis
by 1976. These rules were adapted from Martin Gardner's column, "Mathematical Games,"
in the October 1977 issue of Scientific American magazine.