Trigger Cards


players.png ~2-5
time.png 3 min

A set of cards to trigger events, but especially suited to riff jamming.


Print and cut out the Trigger Cards deck.


Before the jam begins, each player randomly selects 3 Trigger Cards. You may examine your own cards but keep them secret from other players. Choose one of your cards before playing and put away the other 2.

Gameplay instructions

The jam starts, and then, at any moment you choose, you can reveal your card to the other players once by holding it up.
Players must respond to the instruction on the card, which triggers significant, synchronized musical events
Multiple Trigger Cards may overlap, according to players interpretation, but players should avoid deliberately revealing Trigger Cards at the same time because some cards present contradictory instructions (such as “Speed Up” and “Slow Down”).

Game end

The game ends when all players have used their cards and the musical effects of all of them have been played out.


Variation 1: Trigger more than a single card during jams, according to the number of players and duration.
Variation 2: Don’t choose a card, just pick 1 at random. This faster version is played on Auki Podcast where the game originated.
Variation 3: You may play it solo with a shuffled deck of cards, drawing cards to influence your improvisation.

Editor's notes

Published before as a ruleset in Synzine magazine.
Drawings on Trigger Cards were done by Andy Lowe.
Entry is decorated with a photo "Assault Rifle" by TomYamRojak, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Card that trigger events is a very recognizable pattern of music games. This is an elegant implementation of it, but the topic requires further historical investigation. Hopefully in some time at G4M there will be a comparison of titles from different eras and the build-up of theory around it…


Benedict Johnson

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