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.


Print (or draw) one colour board. The board shows the circle which defines the order of neighbouring colours. It 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), you should 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

Every of the five colours is related to a mood of music. For every mood there are two cues.

Mood Chaos Happy Calm Discipline Sad
cue 1 short sounds short sounds quiet quiet slow
cue 2 high pitch fast low pitch ostinato ostinato


As you can see some cues repeat between colours/moods. When two cards have the same cues but different colours they form a pair. There are three possible pairs of this type.

There are also two pairings of cues that are based on opposition: yellow arrow ("fast" cue) forms a pair with black snail ("slow" cue) whereas red hat ("high pitch" cue) forms a pair with green boot ("low pitch" cue).

All the five possibilities of making a pair are marked with lines on the circle).

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). Final spot will be a discard — for cards that leave play.

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
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

Consequences of playing the card depend on it's colour and the situation in the circle. Rule D will be used after A, B or C:

A. If in the circle there are two cards of opposing colours to the one you play, put it on discard.
B. If in the circle there is already a card of the same colour that the one you play, put your played card on discard and add the same colour card from the circle to your collection.
C. Otherwise put your card in the circle on the field matching its colour. If there is already a card of opposing colour in the circle, take that other card to your collection.

D. If you have a pair in your collection, flip it (these two cards will give you points but will not be your cue 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 if they don't contradict the circle.

a. Don't play sounds if the circle is empty (this might also happen during the game).
b. Don't repeat too much if there is no "ostinato" card shown in the circle or your collection.
c. Don't follow cues on your collected pairs (put them upside down so they can't be seen).

Consider swift transitions when your turn comes, especially when there are many Players.

Game end

When you play the last card from your deck — with only this last one, you are allowed to put it on discard regardless of the situation on the table. 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.


Easy dealing

Shuffle all your cards (there should be 10 times more of them than Players) then deal 10 cards to every Player. Pick cards you got and look through them to know them before the game (is there a colour you don't have? do you have many cards in some?).


Although a bit complicated, drafting mechanic suits this game well, because it lets players decide what kind of music they will most probably play.

Shuffle all the cards and deal 5 cards to every Player (this should be half of the deck). Then every Player does the same: Choose one card from your pile (1 card of 5) and pass the pile of the remaining 4 cards to the left. At around that moment you should simultaneously receive 4 cards from Player on your right. Then pick 1 card of 4 you just got, then pass 3 to the left …and so on until all the cards are taken.

Now draft the remaining cards similarly, but with passing the pile to the right. After all every Player should end up with 10 cards. It's good to get to know them well before the game.

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