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Sequence, an abstract strategy board-and-card game, was invented by Douglas Reuter in Owatonna, Minnesota, over a two-year period in the 1970s. Mr. Reuter originally called the game, "Sequence Five". Reuter spent years developing the concept, and, in June 1981, granted Jax Ltd. an exclusive license to manufacture, distribute and sell the board game, Sequence, and its subsequent variations. The game was first sold in a retail store in 1982.
The object of the game is to form rows of five poker chips on the board by placing the chips on the board spaces corresponding to cards played from the player's hand.
Playing Board 19 3⁄4 by 15 1⁄4 inches (500 mm × 390 mm); Instructions; 135 poker chips (50 blue, 50 green, 35 red); two full standard card decks (52 cards each, 104 cards total).
Sequence can be played with 2 to 12 players. More than 12 players cannot play. If more than three people are playing, they should divide evenly into two or three teams. With two teams, players alternate their physical positions with opponents around the playing surface. With three teams, players of a team must be positioned at every third player around the playing surface.
If the player who played first wins and the second player wins in the next turn it’s a tie.
The game board is placed on a flat surface (such as the floor or a table) with enough room to allow for the draw deck, a discard pile and marker chips. The jokers, if any, are removed from the deck as they are not used in the game.
To decide who goes first, one player shuffles the card decks into two stacks. Each player takes a card from the deck. The player with the lowest card will deal, and the cards are shuffled again. Each player or team then chooses a set of poker chips; all members of each team must use the same color chips (red is only used if there are three teams).
The number of cards dealt to each player varies by the number of people playing:
- Two Players: Seven cards each
- Three Players: Six cards each
- Four Players: Six cards each
- Six Players: Five cards each
- Eight Players: Four cards each
- Nine Players: Four cards each
- Ten Players: Three cards each
- Twelve Players: Three cards each.
Each card is pictured twice on the game board, and Jacks (while necessary for game strategy) do not appear on the board.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first.
The player chooses a card from their hand, and places a chip on one of the corresponding spaces of the game board (Example: they choose Ace of Diamonds from their hand and place a chip on the Ace of Diamonds on the board). Jacks are wild. Two-Eyed Jacks can represent any card and may be used to place a chip on any space on the board. One-Eyed Jacks can remove an opponent's token from a space. Players may use the Two-Eyed Jacks to complete a row or block an opponent, and One-Eyed Jacks can remove an opponent's advantage. One-Eyed Jacks cannot be used to remove a marker chip that is already part of a completed sequence; once a sequence is achieved by a player or team, it stands. Once a Jack is played, it ends the turn.
The played card then goes face-up into a "Discard" pile, the player then draws a replacement card from the draw deck, and play passes to the left.
A player may place chips on either of the appropriate card spaces as long as it is not already covered by an opponent's marker chip.
If a player possesses a card which does not have an open space on the game board, the card is considered "dead" and may be exchanged for a new card. When it is their turn, they place the dead on card on the discard pile, announce they are turning in a dead card, and take a replacement (one card per turn). Then they proceed to play their normal turn.
Each corner of the board has a "Free" space that all players can use to their advantage. This space acts as if it has a chip of each color on it at all times.
To form rows, chips may be placed vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Each complete row of five (or four and a free corner space) is counted as a sequence. Sequences of the same color may intersect, but only at a single position.
If the draw deck becomes depleted during play, the discard pile is shuffled and drawing begins again.
Sequence rules dictate no table talk or coaching between team members and a precise order in which hands must be played (card, chip, replace card). If a player forgets to replace a card on their turn and if any of the other players points it out then, they cannot make it up in a later one and must continue playing the game with a reduced number of cards.
The game ends when a player or team completes 2 sequences.
Two Sequences in a row:
When two (2) Sequences are required to win they can be in one straight row of nine (9) chips. It is nine and not ten (10), because the rules state that "you may use any 'one' of the spaces from your first Sequence as part of your second." So, a straight line of 9 chips can be formed, in any order and is considered as two Sequences when the 9th chips in a row is placed.
If a Sequence is not announced by the player on creating one then it will not be considered a sequence until the player wishes so.
A fun alternative to standard Sequence game play is to go past the minimal number of sequences to win. Players compete to fill the entire board with complete sequences of five chips (in each player's preferred color). Keep score of one point per sequence created. Different from standard game play, a player may remove chips from completed sequences to prevent opponents from scoring. For added difficulty, do not reshuffle the deck should you run out of cards. Game play ends when the board is filled and no additional moves are possible. To declare a winner, tally up the points. Whoever has the most points wins the game.
A fun variation for turning sequence into a drinking game for adults is for each player to pick one (or two) number or face cards. Each time any of the chosen cards is discarded, by any player, the player who chose it has to drink. Last man standing (or the person who wins via the usual way) wins.
Sequence comes in several versions, including: Sequence – States and Capitals; Sequence Numbers; Sequence 25th Anniversary Edition; Jumbo Sequence; Travel Sequence; Sequence Deluxe Edition; and Sequence for Kids. The major difference between the different Sequence versions is the game board sizes, shapes and topics.
There is also Sequence Dice which uses dice instead of cards. The object of Sequence Dice is to be the first person to connect a "sequence" of five chips in a row on the board, just as in the original game. However, a player only has to achieve one sequence in order to win instead of the two sometimes needed in the original. The board displays four interlocking arrangements of the numerals 1-9 and pictures of dice. The four corner spaces on the board depict dice arranged in a "snake eyes" pattern; that is, displaying one and one. The four spaces in the center of the board depict dice showing double-sixes. Players who roll "snake eyes" or double-sixes may roll again.
A variant allows pairs that become trapped by placing your color on each side of a pair of a single opponent to be removed from the board. One or three or more are not an option, but two, not a part of a sequence can be stolen by an opponent. Additionally, this allows for another option to win, as if a player captures any five pairs of any opponent, they win the game.
During a series of legal disputes, Douglas Reuter claimed Jax violated its licensing agreement which would provide grounds for contract termination. In response, Jax denied any violation. Meanwhile, both sides continue to profit from game sales. Jax garners 80 percent of its revenue from Sequence; Reuter receives a royalty on sales of Sequence. Mr. Reuter has also started a new game company called, "Game Inventors of America," which is located in Corinth, Texas.
Unauthorized variations of Sequence have appeared many times over the years. Names of the unauthorized versions include, "One-Eyed Jack," "Jack Foolery," and "Jack Off." In "One-Eyed Jack," the board is constructed using actual playing cards.
In March 2015, Jax Ltd. filed a legal claim against independent video game developer Iridium Studios over the name of their rhythm video game titled Sequence. Not wanting to pay legal fees challenging the claim, the video game developer promptly renamed their game to Before the Echo.
- Compton, Steve (7 February 1997). "Reuter not playing games with fiscal restraint" (PDF). Session Weekly. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota House of Representatives Information Office. p. 13. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Sequence". Game Board Geek. Retrieved 6 Aug 2014.
- Board Game Geek http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2375/sequence
- "REUTER v. JAX LTD., INC".
- "One-Eyed Jack".
- "Sequence renamed to Before the Echo". Steam. March 30, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2015.