Bartok is a very simple game (initially) with the rules starting out very much like Uno. The major twist to this game is the Nomic-like ability to modify the rules (initially the winner does this at the end of the game). Anyway – the rules are simple and self explanatory.

Initial Rules

  1. Players each begin with 5 cards
  2. The remaining cards are placed face down in the centre, forming “the pack”. The dealer then turns over the top card from the pack, this card has no effect on play. If a joker is turned up, then the dealer may turn over another card, and so forth. The first player is the first one to place an eligible card after the card is turned over.
  3. Play proceeds clockwise, unless any other rule states otherwise.
  4. When it is a certain players turn, e may either play an eligible card from eir hand onto the face up pile (hereafter “the pile”), or pick up a card from the pack (not both). This play must be made within a reasonable time of it becoming eir turn (as judged by the other players.)
  5. Unless other rules state otherwise, an eligible card to play must be of the same suit or the same value as the card on the top of the face up pile.
  6. A joker is a wild card, and so may be played as any other eligible card. The player playing the joker must announce which card it represents.
  7. When any player’s hand changes from containing two or more cards to only one card, e must say “Bartok”.
  8. Players may not ask questions during play.
  9. Players may not make (provably) false statements during play.
  10. If any player is deemed (by general consensus) to have broken any rule the e must draw a card from the pack. Such a draw does NOT constitute a player’s turn. This penalty may only be incurred if the breaking of the rule is announced within a reasonable time after the event.
  11. The winner of a round is the first player to have zero cards in his hand. Generally, a player is deemed to have won BEFORE the final card played takes effect.
  12. A round ends when the winner is decided. The winner shall then invent a new rule which will come into effect in the next round. New rules may repeal or override older rules. New rules must not be obviously biased towards or against any player. New rules may not directly effect the creation or content of later rules. Other players may express their dissatisfaction with any new rule, but so long as the rule meets the previous guidelines, the winner’s word is final.
  13. The winner then becomes the dealer for the next round. If e so desires e may declare any other player to be dealer instead of em.
  14. During a round, timeout may be called by the players in order to clarify some aspect of a new rule which was not previously clear. During this time questions may be asked of the player who created rule in question, without penalty. In all such cases, the word of the rule’s creator is final. If two or more rules conflict or combine with unclear effect, the player who created the most recent of those rules may decide the effect. Questions off the topic of rules clarification are not allowed during timeout. Trivial questions, or questions which have already been clearly answered (to a majority of players) should not be tolerated.
  15. If any player enters the game and is unfamiliar with the rules in effect at the time, the other players ought not explain any more than the very general basics of the original rules. If ever the new player receives a penalty for some reason, then a brief (and not necessarily clear) reason for the penalty ought to be given. New players should be encouraged to work out the current rules by their own ingenuity.

Suggested New Rules

In any of the following, the following notation is used:

“card(n)”, where n is a number from 2 to 13 – Any of a set of about n cards, by value, regardless of suit. Good choices of sets of cards are: primes (not including 1), squares, cubes, odds, evens, multiples of x, court cards, or particular suits or colors. In all such cases Jack, Queen, King are usually considered to have values 11, 12 and 13 respectively. Ace has value 1.

“card(1)” – Any single card, by value, regardless of suit. (Generally a card with does not already have a rule attached, altho overlap is allowed, even encouraged, on occasion).

“card(1c)” (or “card(1s)”) – Any single card by value and by colour (or by suit). This is generally recommended for rules which are considered to have “dangerous” effect, and for which it is desirable to have apply only rarely.

These values are offered as guidelines only, and any rule may be applied to more or fewer cards than suggested, at the creator’s discretion.

After each rule’s name, a gauge of difficulty/nastiness is given:

* = beginner rule
** = advanced beginner
*** = experienced
**** = experienced difficult
***** = masochists only

Note: This does not imply that beginner or advanced beginner rules are not fun for expert players.

On card(3), play skips X (= 1,2…) people.
On card(3-6), the direction of play changes.
On card(1-3), the current player swaps hands with a certain player. (On eir left/right/opposite/in dirn of play/by choice etc.)
On card(1-2), all players give their hands to another certain player. (On eir left/right/opposite/in dirn of play etc.)
(When more than one pack is being used.) If a player has a card in eir hand, identical (same number AND suit) to the card on the top of the pile then e may immediately play that card (regardless of whether it is eir turn or not), saying “SNAP” when doing so, and play continues as if it had been that player’s turn. When only one pack is being used, a card of the same number and colour may be snapped instead.
(When SNAP is in use) If a card has just been snapped, and a player has a card in eir hand of the same suit and number one more than the snapped card, e may play it immediately (regardless of turn) and say “CRACKLE” when doing so. Play continues from em.
DRAW X (cumulative)
On card(1), then next player has to pick up X cards. This constitutes that players turn. If the rule is declared to be cumulative then the next player may play another (legal) draw card as eir turn, an the next player has to draw 2X, and so forth, until some player cannot play.
If a draw rule (DRAW X) is in effect, a card(1) may be played (if eligible) as a “stop” card, instead on drawing. When this card is played, the last player to have played a draw card has to draw (unavoidably).
On card(1) player changes position with a certain other player. (as per swapping) Players may have to take their hands with them, or leave them behind.
Play goes cw after a red card and ccw after a black card.
The winner of a round is dealt one fewer cards in future rounds. If ever a player is to be dealt zero cards, then e is declared the winner of the tournament, and the tournament ends.
Player with most cards at the end of round gets an extra card in future rounds. (Difficult to stop players from throwing in their hands)
On card(1s) the rules are reset to the initial set, or some reduced set, for the duration of the round (or even permanently). For use in very long games only.
On card(1c) the player has to draw 2-3 cards from the pack.
The effect of the last card to be played is counted before determining the winner.
All players are dealt two hands called “top” and “bottom”. Players may only ever look at their current “top” hand. On card(1) all players swap their top and bottom hands. The winner is now the first player to have zero cards in eir TOP hand.
Assorted swap rules (global/local) may be applied to players’ bottom hands, top hands, or both.
On card(1-6) player must say “BEEP” or “QUACK” etc… (Multiples of these rules can be fun)
On card(1) player must run to a certain landmark and back. If it becomes eir turn again and e is not back yet, e can be given a card for taking too long.
Certain words, eg “Yes”,”No”,”I”, may not be spoken.
On card(1) player may only speak in sets of three words at a time (no more, no fewer) with reasonable pauses in between, until such time as another player players that card.
On card(1) player is “under the influence” and may only speak in false-hoods. The player is exempt from any penalties for saying false statements, but can be penalised for saying (provably) true statements. A player stays “under the influence” until another player plays that card.
The effect of rules such as Three Word Rule and Under The Influence may be transferred when the player swaps hands or places with another player.
If a player can snap on the (otherwise) winning card, then e is the winner instead. If three or more packs are used, then the last player to snap (before throwing in their hand) wins.
If numbers permit, two or more separate games may be run, each with its own set of players and rules. Each game acts as per usual for a single game, with one extra rule: On card(1c) player must swap places with a player of choice, in another game.
On card(1-2) player must name a movie/song/commercial etc which has not yet been mentioned.
Card(1) henceforth is considered to be have some other value with respect to eligibility, effect and future play.
All cards henceforth have value one more than their face. (Very Nasty, esp. with many rules in place!)
On card(1) the current player has another turn.
BILL (Ghost hand)
An extra hand is dealt, face up, to a ghost player called “Bill”, who sits opposite the winner of the previous round, who is to be Bill’s “caller”. Bill has turns like any other player, but Bill’s plays are decided by the caller. If Bill has only one card left, then he automatically draws another card (for failing to say Bartok), but the caller must make sure that Bill follows all the other rules (including Beeps, Quacks, et al.). If Bill breaks a rule, then the caller has to draw the penalty card.
Change the name of the game (and hence, what players must say when they have only one card in their hand) to something other than “Bartok”. Can cause much confusion (and fun) when played by experienced players. Suggested names are “Vickie makes up silly rules” and “Snap!”.
Players must play cards using their non-writing hand.
When card(1) is played, the next player in dirn of play must pick up that card.

This stuff was shamelessly snagged from