Pazaak, a game dating back to Old Republic times, was a popular card game in which the goal was to come closest to 20 without going over. The player with the highest score less than or equal to 20 won the round, and the player who won three rounds won the match. A round in which the two players tied was not counted.
Pazaak had two different decks. The main (or "table") deck was composed of cards numbered 1–10. (The total cards in this deck was unbound, though it tended to have four of each number.) There was also one side deck for each player in the game. The players themselves assembled these decks, which had to have exactly ten cards.
At the beginning of the game, each player would randomly select four cards from their side deck, making up their Hand. Each player drew a card from the main deck, with the highest card determining who played first. Then the first turn of the first player would start. The player would draw a card from the main deck and play it on the table. After that, the player could choose to either place a card down from their hand, or to end their turn. Only one hand card could be played per turn, and no more cards were ever drawn from the side deck.
When ending their turn, the player had two options:
End Turn: If the player ended their turn, they had to draw a new card from the main deck at the start of the next turn. This was repeated until either they stood, went bust, filled the table, or reached a score of exactly 20.
Stand: If the player stood, they kept their current sum until the end of the set and did not play any other cards. The opponent, however, could continue playing cards, unless he had chosen to stand as well. Getting a sum of 20 automatically caused a player to stand.
Once their turn was over, the next player played their turn in the same manner. Play alternated between the two players until someone won the set.
The winner of the set was then first player for the next set. In the case of a tie, whoever was not first player for the tied set was the first player for the next set.
Pazaak used two decks:
The Main Deck consisted of four sets of cards numbered 1 to 10.
The Side Deck consisted of ten special cards chosen by the player before the match. At the start of each game, four of these cards were chosen at random for the player to keep in his hand and play at any time he desired.
The side deck also had a variety of cards, and each deck was unique to the player in that he could purchase different types of cards throughout the galaxy and choose whichever ones he preferred to keep in his hand. There were two types of such cards: Plus and Minus cards, which were blue and red, and Advanced cards, which were gold. Main Deck cards were green, or in some older cases gold.
Plus Cards were blue cards that added the indicated value to a player's total when played. The value of the cards ranged from 1 to 6 points.
Minus Cards were red cards that were similar to the plus cards, but instead they subtracted their value from the player's total. They also ranged from 1 to 6.
Plus or Minus Cards (+/−) were essentially a combination of the two; the player could choose upon play whether he wanted to add the number or subtract it from his hand. These were the most expensive and highly valued cards. They also ranged from 1 to 6.
The +/− 1 or 2 Card was a +/− card whose value could be changed to between 1 and 2.
- Flip Cards were advanced cards that changed the sign of the written number of all the cards in a player's table. For example, if a player played a 2&4, all the 2s and 4s on the table would become −2s and −4s, while all the −2s and −4s would become 2s and 4s. These cards were only available as 2&4 and 3&6.
The Double Card was a rare card that doubled the value of the last played card. For example, if one flipped over 2, then a 9, he could play the double card, making the 9 an 18, thus adding up to 20. A player known as Mebla Dule gave the Jedi Exile this card after being beaten on Telos IV.
The Tiebreaker Card was an extremely rare card that acted like a +/−1 card, but in the event of a tie, the player who played the tiebreaker card would win. A tiebreaker card was owned by the being on Nar Shaddaa known as the Champ until he gave it to the Exile after losing his position to the Jedi.
The Side Deck was often the key to victory, as without his hand, a player relied solely on luck to win the match. Therefore, a player would have to conserve his cards, as the four side deck cards would have to last him through the entire match.
Winning the game
There were four ways to win the set:
By outscore: After both players chose to stand, the player with the score closest to but not over 20 would win.
By going bust: If a player ended his turn with a score over 20, he was said to "bust," and the other player won.
By filling the table: In some rare occasions, if a player placed 9 cards on the table without busting, the player would automatically win, if his/her score ended up being 20 or under.
By using the tiebreaker card: A golden tiebreaker card, when used last, brought victory to the user if both players had the same score.
When a set tied, no one got a point for the set, and a new set was played. The first player to win three sets won the game, and whatever was being wagered.
Areas of play
As a card game, pazaak could be played just about anywhere, but the most popular places to play were on ships during hyperspace transit, at the local cantina, or at special areas designated for play, such as the Pazaak Den in the Nar Shaddaa Refugee Sector.
When played just to pass time (not for money), pazaak players used Republic Senate rules, in which nothing was bet and no one came out on top. The name was mockingly derived from the way that bureaucrats babbled on while taking no risks and accomplishing nothing. There was also a Nar Shaddaa version, in which the players removed clothing, or kept a blaster in their hand to avert potential cheating.[source?]
Like all games, pazaak quickly became a form of gambling, and most players in the galaxy wouldn't even consider playing with someone before discussing the wager. Many people still played Republic Senate rules, and Nar Shaddaa rules,[source?] for fun, however. A Force-sensitive man known as Atton Rand often used pazaak to block out anyone who tried to read his thoughts; he would pretend to play the game in his mind, so that if anyone tried to read his thoughts, all they could see would be pazaak.
Behind the scenes
Pazaak is a minigame created for the 2003 roleplaying game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and was also included in its 2004 sequel, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords.
The "filling the table" win condition only applies in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords; in the first game, filling the table would merely count as an automatic stand, and the rules of the game are applied as normal following that. Filling the table is mentioned in the rules section, in completed quests (part 2 of 2), after asking Atton on the Ebon Hawk to go over the rules for you.
- "Shadows and Light"—Star Wars Tales 23
- Knights of the Old Republic 12
- Knights of the Old Republic 49 (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
- Red Harvest (Mentioned only)
- Red Harvest audiobook (Mentioned only)
- The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance (Mentioned only)
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- "Roll of the Dice"—Star Wars Insider 135
- Knights of the Old Republic: Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Prima Official Game Guide
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Explorer's Guide