Blaze is a card game for 3 to 5 players. It is based on the Russian classic Durak, which is played by millions of people worldwide. Durak is all about not being the loser. Blaze builds upon the unique gameplay of Durak, but is about winning – and being the last player with cards in hand does not necessarily mean losing the game.
Blaze is played over the course of 2 rounds. Each round has 2 phases.
1st Phase: Players try to improve their hand cards and avoid adding more cards to their hand.
2nd Phase: Players try to get rid of their hand cards as soon as possible to win valuable Feather cards.
The 1st Phase
THE DEAL Each player is dealt 5 cards. An additional card is set aside under the deck. This determines the trump card for both phases AND is the last card drawn at the end of phase 1.
STARTING THE CHALLENGE You become the active player and have to challenge the player to your left. To do so, play any card from your hand faceup in front of them. You can add more cards of the same value in any suit combination.
REJECTING CARDS The player to your left becomes the target player and must reject each challenge card or pass (see p. 7). To reject a card: play a card of the same suit with the same or a higher value or play any card of the trump suit.
Important: If the challenge card is a trump, in order to reject it you must play a trump card with the same or a higher value. Each rejection card is placed faceup opposite their corresponding challenge card. Rearrangement is not allowed afterwards.
EXTENDING THE CHALLENGE The active player can extend the challenge anytime by playing more challenge cards. To do so, only cards of values already played before (either as challenge or rejection cards) may be played.
SUPPORTING The player to the left of the target player becomes the supporter of the active player and may extend the challenge anytime following the same rules.
- Challenge limit: The active player and the supporter may never play more than 5 challenge cards total.
- Firebird cards: Their value varies depending on whether they are played as challenge cards (value 10) or rejection cards (value 0).
Important: You may reject a non-trump card with a Firebird card of the trump suit
RESOLVING A CHALLENGE
The challenge ends if the target player has either rejected all cards or has passed.
A. TARGET PLAYER HAS REJECTED ALL CARDS If neither the active player nor the supporter can or want to further extend the challenge, place all cards played in this challenge on a faceup discard pile next to the draw deck. Then, beginning with the active player and in clockwise order, all players involved in the challenge who have less than 5 cards draw back up to a hand size of 5 from the draw deck.
Important: When drawing cards, each player draws all their cards before the next player gets to draw. The target player is the next in turn and becomes the new active player
B. TARGET PLAYER HAS PASSED The target player may pass at any time, even without playing any rejection cards. Once they have passed:
- the active player and the supporter may still play challenge cards.
- the target player may not reject any more cards.
- the target player must take all cards of this challenge in hand.
Important: This includes all rejection cards and all challenge cards played by the active player and the supporter. Then, all players involved in the challenge draw back up to a hand size of 5 (see p. 6). A target player who has passed must skip their turn and the supporter becomes the next active player (no matter if they played any cards).
END OF THE 1ST PHASE The 1st phase ends immediately when the draw deck is depleted. Note: You may count how many cards are left in the deck. The faceup trump card is the last card to be drawn. Some players may have less than 5 cards when the phase ends.
The 2nd Phase
There is no draw deck. Place the Feather card stack for the 1st round (back) in the middle of the playing area. Flip it faceup so that the highest value Feather card is on top. Players attempt to get rid of all cards in hand as soon as possible to win the most valuable Feather card still available.
PLACING BETS Before continuing the game, each player bets on who they think will be the last to still have cards in hand and will thus lose the round. All players simultaneously place one of their Betting cards facedown in front of the player they have chosen. You may not bet on yourself. If you think you will lose the round, place your Betting card with value 0 in front of another player.
COURSE OF THE 2ND PHASE After placing the bets, the game continues with the next player in turn order as determined by the last challenge of the 1st phase. The same rules as in the 1st phase apply, with the following changes:
Players no longer draw cards at the end of a challenge, but you still have to take all cards played in hand when passing. If the target player has less than 5 cards in hand at the beginning of a challenge, the challenge limit is equal to the number of their cards in hand.
Important: The trump suit remains the same as in the 1st phase.
WINNING A FEATHER CARD After resolving a challenge, players who have no more cards in hand take a Feather card from the stack. In clockwise order, starting with the active player, each such player takes the topmost card and places it next to them, creating their facedown scoring stack. These players will no longer take part in the round and are not considered in the order of play.
Important: Be aware that once a player is out of the round, the remaining players may have new neighbors. In the rare case that a player has no cards right at the beginning of the 2nd phase, they immediately take the topmost Feather card after placing their bet and are out of the round.
End of a Round
The round ends immediately after the last Feather card has been awarded. The player who has not received a Feather card loses this round. Reveal all Betting cards played this round.
If you have not lost the round, take any Betting cards that other players placed in front of you and add them to your scoring stack.
If you have lost the round, each player who placed a Betting card in front of you, takes it and adds it to their scoring stack.
Important: Betting cards with value 0 are always returned to their owners. They may use them again in the 2nd round.
The 2nd Round
For the 2nd round the same rules apply as for the 1st round. Before continuing, prepare the 2nd round as follows.
1. Collect all Playing cards used in the 1st round and shuffle them. Deal 5 cards to each player. Put the remaining cards back into the box.
2. Place the draw deck, that was previously set aside for the 2nd round in the middle of the playing area.
3. Flip the top card of the draw deck and place it faceup under the deck, rotated 90 degrees. This card determines the trump suit for the 2nd round. The loser of the 1st round becomes the start player of the 2nd round. In the 2nd phase, use the Feather card stack that was set aside for the 2nd round (back).
End of the Game
The game ends after resolving the bets of the 2nd round. For their final score, players sum up the values of the Feather and Betting cards on their scoring stacks. The player with the highest score wins. Important: Ignore any of your leftover Betting cards that are not part of your scoring stack. In case of a tie, the tied player who won the highest Feather card in the 2nd round wins.
TIMING Blaze is a fast back and forth between the active player, the target player, and the supporter. The following rules apply regarding the timing of play:
1. Whenever there are unrejected cards, the target player must decide to reject them or pass. The active player and supporter do not need to play cards until the target player has made their decision – but they could.
2. If both the active player and the supporter want to extend a challenge and this would result in the challenge limit to be exceeded, the active player has priority. If the supporter has played too fast, the active player may ask the supporter to take back as many cards so that they can play the cards they were about to play. However, such contradiction must be made immediately after the cards are played. Generally, the active player and supporter are encouraged to talk about how many cards they want to play and who contributes what.