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Level 6 - Tempo Clues

Special Moves


The Tempo Clue

  • Tempo Clues are defined as clues that "get" no new cards. The purpose of a Tempo Clue is to get 1 or more cards played that already had a clue on them.
    • If a clue is given to a card that is already known to be playable, then that would not count as a Tempo Clue. It would instead be a Burn Clue (i.e. a clue that accomplishes nothing).
  • As explained in the beginner's guide, we do not typically perform Tempo Clues, because they do not meet Minimum Clue Value Principle.
  • When a Tempo Clue touches multiple cards, the focus is on the left-most card.
    • The exception is if one of the cards was previously Chop Moved. In that case, the focus is on the left-most Chop Moved card.
  • If a Tempo Clue touches multiple cards, it typically means that all the touched cards are playable. See the Double Tempo Clue section below.
  • We treat Tempo Clues differently depending on whether they are valuable or not valuable. See the next two sections below.

The Valuable Tempo Clue

  • In some special situations, Tempo Clues have enough value to justify giving them:
    1. When it gets two or more clued cards to play
    2. When the clued card is not a 5 and it is "out of order" (meaning that it is impossible for a Prompt to get the card played)
    3. When the clued card was Chop Moved and it is now playable
    4. When playing the clued card would "unlock" someone's hand (see the section on Locked Hands later on)
  • If a Tempo Clue is given in any of these situations, it is considered to be "valuable".
  • Valuable Tempo Clues can be given at any time. They don't have any special rules associated with them and they are treated in exactly the same way a "normal" Play Clue is.

The Tempo Clue Stall (A Non-Valuable Tempo Clue)

  • If a player gives a Tempo Clue that does not meet any of the criteria for being "valuable", it is treated differently and given a different name.
  • Sometimes, players are in "stalling situations" where it would be illegal for them to discard (like when they have a hand that is completely clued). In some specific stalling situations, it is okay to give a Tempo Clue that doesn't meet the criteria for being valuable. This is called a Tempo Clue Stall. Since everyone sees that the player giving the clue was in a stalling situation, they can understand what is going on.
  • For level 9 players, see the Allowable Stall Clues section for the specific times when Tempo Clue Stalls are okay to give. If you are lower than level 9, the details are not important right now.
  • Obviously, players are only allowed to give a Tempo Clue Stall in a valid stalling situation. If a player gives a Tempo Clue that does not meet the criteria to be valuable in an otherwise ordinary situation, then they must be intending to send a deeper message. See the Tempo Clue Chop Moves section below.

The Tempo Clue Chop Move (TCCM)

  • First, see the section on Tempo Clues.
  • A Tempo Clue Stall that is given in non-stalling situation can't be a stall - the cluer must be intending to send a deeper message.
  • We agree that Tempo Clues of this nature cause a Chop Move in addition to getting the focus of the card to play.
  • For example, in a 3-player game:
    • It is the first turn and nothing is played on the stacks.
    • Alice clues red to Bob, which touches two cards on slot 1 and slot 2.
    • Bob plays red 1 from slot 1. The red card in slot 2 could be red 2, red 3, red 4, or red 5.
    • Cathy clues number 2 to Bob, which does not introduce any new cards, but it does "fill in" his slot 2 card.
    • Bob now knows that he has exactly red 2 on slot 2 and that this was a Tempo Clue. Since it does not get any new cards and only get Tempo on one card in total, he knows that he should also Chop Move his slot 5 card.
  • Valuable Tempo Clues can never cause a Tempo Clue Chop Move.
  • When determining if a Tempo Clue is "valuable", it should only be evaluated on the turn immediately after the clue is given. (This helps keeps things simple and prevents desynchronization.)
AliceClue GiverClue GiverBobFocusCathyBob plays slot 1.
AliceBob2ChopMovedCathyClue GiverClue Giver
  • Normally, when two cards are retouched with a clue, it is a Double Tempo Clue and the player should play both cards. However, this interpretation does not apply if the second card is strictly not playable. In this situation, all players can see that since only one card is getting Tempo, the interpretation of the clue should be a Tempo Clue Chop Move.
  • For example, in a 3-player game:
    • Red 1 is played on the stacks.
    • Green 4 is in the trash.
    • Bob has:
      • a green 4 on slot 3 with no clues on it yet (on chop and critical)
      • a red 2 on slot 4 with a 2 clue on it
      • a red 5 on slot 5 with a 5 clue on it
    • Alice clues red to Bob, which re-touches his slot 4 card and his slot 5 card, "filling" both of them in.
    • Bob knows that this is a Tempo Clue, and plays red 2.
    • In most cases, since two cards were re-touched, they should both be playable. However, Bob knows that the red 5 is strictly not playable right now. Thus, since the clue did not get any new cards and only got Tempo on one card in total, he knows that he should also Chop Move his slot 3 card.
    • Cathy knows that no-one else on the team is promised the red 3 and the red 4.
AliceClue GiverClue GiverBobChopMovedCathy

The Double Tempo Clue (A Valuable Tempo Clue)

  • First, see the section on Tempo Clues and Valuable Tempo Clues.
  • When a Tempo Clue touches one card, it is a clear signal to play that card.
  • When a Tempo Clue touches two or more cards, we need to agree how many cards that it promises are playable.
  • We agree that it means that all of the cards touched are playable in order from left to right.
  • Since this kind of clue gets two or more cards played, it is considered to be "valuable" and is allowed to be given at any time and in any situation.
  • For example, in a 3-player game:
    • It is the first turn and nothing is played on the stacks.
    • Alice clues red to Bob, which touches slot 1, slot 2, and slot 3.
    • Bob plays red 1 from slot 1. The other two red cards in his hand could be nearly anything.
    • Cathy clues red to Bob, which does not introduce any new cards, but it does re-touch slot 2 and slot 3.
    • Bob knows that this is a Double Tempo clue. Both must be playable in order, so he must have red 2 in slot 2, and red 3 in slot 3.
  • Note that the normal "play all the cards" interpretation does not apply in some special situations:
    • when the clue unlocks a player's hand
    • when the clue got 2+ cards played in total (using cards in someone else's hand)
    • when the clue touched a Chop Moved card; in this situation, only the Chop Moved card is playable

General Principles


Discard Modulation

  • Often times, either you or the player who comes after you can perform a clue. And the clue would have the same result if done by either player. So who should do it?
  • One way to decide is to look at the next player's chop. Is their chop high-value, low-value, or useless? If it is high-value, then you should discard and let them give the clue. If it is low-value or useless, then you should give the clue and let them discard.
  • "Stealing" clues in this way is called Discard Modulation. If other players are discarding to let you give all of the clues, you might have a high-value chop.
  • For example, in a 3-player game:
    • All the 1's are played on the stacks.
    • It is the Mid-Game.
    • Bob has a red 3 on chop. This is a one-away-from-playable card that is valuable to the team. However, it would be illegal to clue the card directly with a Play Clue or a Save Clue.
    • Cathy has a (playable) blue 2 in her hand.
    • Alice decides to discard instead of giving a Play Clue herself.
    • Bob clues blue to Cathy as a Play Clue.
    • Alice has smartly prevented the discard of the red 3, at least for a little while.
AliceAlice discards to protect the red 3.BobClue GiverClue GiverCathyMid-Game

The Value of One-Away-From-Playable Cards

  • In general, 3's are pretty high value, and 4's are pretty low value.
  • But combined with this, cards that are one-away-from-playable are pretty high value, and cards that are two-away (or more) are pretty low value.
  • Thus, in some situations, a one-away-from-playable 4 may be more valuable than a two-away-from-playable 3.
  • According to our conventions, it is illegal to clue a one-away-from-playable card as the focus of the clue without it being some kind of special move like a Finesse. However, sometimes we still want to "save" these cards. Thus, they are prime targets for indirect saves like the Trash Chop Move or the 5's Chop Move.
  • However, in most cases, Chop Moving the valuable card just won't be possible. So in general, you should try to construct lines that protect high-value cards from being discarded for as long as possible.