Circle of 5
players.png ~3-7
time.png 20 min
props.png cue-deck × 0 inspire-deck × 0 dice × 0 cards, board

Set collection game of cards to play music by. Your heavy strategizing results in changing musical cues for you and others.


Print (or draw) one colour board. The board shows the circle which defines the order of neighbouring colours. The goes: black - red - yellow - green - blue (blue is again the neighbour of black). If two colours are not neighbours they will be called opposing colours.

Prepare cards (pdf). Print one set for every Player (10 cards for each). The cards will need to be shuffled and shouldn't be recognized from the back, so using opaque card sleeves is advised.

Cards and their meaning

At every colour there are two cues and every cue is shared between two neighbouring colours. Here is a list of symbols and their meaning
dot short sounds (on red and yellow)
repeat repeated phrase, short loop, ostinato (on yellow and green)
low speaker play quietly
snail slowly, lento
hat high sounds


When two cards have the same cue but different colours they form a pair. Collecting pairs will be the basic aim of players.

Set up

Playing area


Put the circle board at the center of your playing area. Every Player will need some space in front for one's individual deck and for the collection of cards (visible to all Players).

In the example you see the game after a few turns, when every Player has already some cards in the collection.

Starting the game

Choose the first Player at random. Every Player shuffles one's 10-card deck and puts it on a table at one's reach. Before the first Player makes an action no music should be played.

Gameplay instructions

On the turn there are six phases:
1) Stop playing music
2) Draw three cards from your deck
3) Play one of the cards from your hand
4) Work out consequences of a played card
5) Put all two cards from your hand back at the top of your deck
6) Join back to the music

The turn is then passed clockwise to the next Player. If he or she seems pre-occupied with music-making consider giving clearer (visual/tacile?) signals of ending your turn.

Phase 3-4 — card consequences

If you play a card that is already in the circle put it right to your collection.
Otherwise put your card to the circle at the proper colour spot. If in the circle there are cards of opposing colour to the one you played, take them to your collection. You take 0-2 cards on your every turn.

If you have a pair in your collection flip it. It's cues don't apply anymore.

Musical instructions

a. Play music when it's not your turn.
b. Follow the directions shown in the circle.
c. Follow the directions shown in your collection (but not on collected pairs).

Try to not play as an absent cue would call for. For example don't repeat too much if there is no "ostinato" card shown in the circle nor in your collection.

Consider swift transitions on the start of your turn, especially when there are many Players.

Game end

When only two cards are left in your deck your gameplay is ended. Don't stop the music yet. Count your points: you get 3 points for every pair in your collection, but for every other card you get -1 point. If you have 6 or more points, take over the music. Play a solo-like part as long as you feel like it.

If you have less than 6 points, pay attention. If some Player starts to play above of the rest, accompany them until they finish playing. If no-one takes the initiative, the piece should soon end calmly (in a form of a fade-out).

Gamemaster's notes

The piece is in beta, any suggestions welcome.

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