Zark City

Note: A more recent version of these rules is available at the index page for this game. We are retaining this page for historical purposes , along with this pdf of these rules formatted as they appeared in Pyramid Primer #1 in 2012.
Zark City
In this game, a deck of cards is used to create an ever-expanding gameboard of number territories. The object is to exclusively occupy a group of 3 matching cards with pieces of your color.

How to Play Zark City

Designed by Andy Looney

Introduction: In this game, a deck of cards is used to create an ever-expanding gameboard of numbered territories. Pyramids are used to indicate who’s in control of which cards. The object is to exclusively occupy a group of three matching cards with pieces of your color.

Number of Players: 2-5

Equipment: 3 Rainbow Stashes, regular card deck

Setup: Each player gets three Trios of a one color.

Shuffle the deck and deal three cards to each player. If any player’s hand contains nothing but aces and/or face cards, all players draw an extra card, repeating until all players hold number cards. (If you have no numbers, you must reveal your hand of cards to prove it.)


Gameboard: The numbered cards on the table collectively form the gameboard. (Aces and face cards do not get added to the board; you get special actions when you use them.)

Adjacent: Two cards on the board are adjacent to each other if their sides are touching.

Diagonally Connected: When two cards are connected only at their corners, they are said to be diagonally connected.

Occupy vs. Control: You occupy a card if one or more of your pyramids is on it; you control a card if you are the only player occupying it.

Block: Any set of three cards that are adjacent to each other (in either a straight line or an L-shape) is known as a Block.

Power Block: A Block is called a Power Block if the three cards it contains are either a Suited Run or Three of a Kind.

Three of a Kind: All three cards have the same number.

Suited Run: All three cards are of the same suit and together they form a consecutive sequence of numbers. (It is NOT required that they be arranged in numerical order.)



Goal: You win if you Control all three cards in a Power Block.

How to Play: On your turn, draw a card, add it to your hand, then take one of the 8 Turn Options listed in the column on the right. Afterwards, discard cards as needed to meet the Hand Limit of six.

Who Starts: Everyone chooses a number card (2-10) from their hand and plays it face down. Once all players have selected a card, everyone reveals. The player with the highest number goes first. In the event of a tie, the tying player who first selected their starter card goes first.

First Round: The first player sets their chosen card in the center of the table, and places a small pyramid on that card. In turn order, the other players then add their starter cards to the board, placing their cards adjacent to any card in play. Each also puts a small pyramid on their card.

Expanding the Board: Any time you add a card to the table, place itat a 90º angle to the card adjacent to it.

Hand Limit: When it’s not your turn, you can only hold a maximum number of 6 cards in your hand. You can exceed this limit during your turn, but you must discard to 6 when your turn ends.

Size Matters: You cannot Grow or Spawn if you don’t have the right sized pyramid available in your stash. For example, you can’t Spawn if all three of your smalls are already on the board.

Re-shuffling: If the deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile and keep playing.


Draw: Draw three additional cards, for a total of four this turn.

Grow: Replace one of your pieces with the next larger size.

Spawn: Add a small pyramid to a card you occupy.

Build: Add a number card from your hand to the board, placing it adjacent to a card you occupy.

Move: Slide one of your pyramids onto an adjacent card.

Convert/Demolish: The piece you target must be on a card adjacent to (or the same as) a card you occupy. You must discard one or more face cards, as many as needed to equal or exceed the value of the piece. Kings are worth 3 pips, and Queens are worth 2 pips. Jacks, Jokers, and Aces are all worth 1 pip. You can either convert the piece to your color by exchanging it with one of the same size or smaller from your stash, or you may simply remove the target piece from the board. If you spend more attack points than required, draw 1 or 2 extra cards, depending on the number of leftover points. (For example, if you discard 2 Queens to convert a Large, draw one card.) But you may not discard entirely redundant Face cards to get extra draws.

Fly: Aces have power beyond counting as Jacks. You can discard an Ace to move a card, like a ying carpet, from one spot on the board to another. You must occupy the card you wish to move (but need not control it). The pieces on the card ride along with it to the new location. You can move the card anywhere as long as you place it adjacent to another card, and provided your move doesn’t leave one section of cards completely detached from another. Note that a diagonal connection IS adequate to prevent isolation.

Hatch: If you have no pyramids on the board, you may Build a new card anywhere, and then place a small pyramid onto that card.

Author’s Notes: This game is based by one of the earliest hits for the pyramids, Zarcana by John Cooper. Minor inspiration also came from Lost Cities by Reiner Kinzia. Hence the name Zark City.