Like most games, combat is broken up into a series of rounds. Each round is made up of turns, which are reflected by the cards used to act. Each person will get one action per card they are dealt. Actions occur from top of the order down with suit breaking tie.
First → Last
Joker → Ace → King …. 2
Spades → Hearts → Diamonds → Clubs
Speed of Actions
There are three basic ‘speeds’ of actions. Simple, Short, Extended. For the most part simple actions are ones that take no real time, such as yelling a warning or dropping a stick of dynamite at your feet. Short actions take a bit more time and do require your focus, say unloading your weapon at that chargin werepig. Extended actions are ones that will require your focus for a longer duration, such as plugging up all the holes that gatling gun just made in your friends. In the case of extended actions they are assigned a cost in cards. Each round you pay the card cost until you’ve paid the full amount. Once you’ve paid it off the action completes. Some extended actions you can work on and take breaks to do other things, others you must spend consecutive actions or be forced to start over at zero should you be interrupted.
In simple terms of how many cards are required to complete an action, simple actions take 0 cards (most times and within limits), short actions take a single card, and extended actions take 2 or more cards.
At the start of each round, everyone gets 1 card for free plus an additional card for each success (and raise) on a TN 5 Quickness roll. Get 13 on a quickness check, and you get 1 (for free) + 1 ( success on roll) + 1 ( 1 raise). Get a 17 and you get 4 cards: 1 (for free) + 1 ( success on roll) + 2 ( 2 raises ). If you go bust on the quickness roll, you get no cards for that round, but you don’t lose your cheat card if you have one.
No matter how well you do on your quickness roll, you can never end up with more than 5 cards (without supernatural aid).
The party action deck is reshuffled when there are no longer enough cards left for someone to draw.
The red joker, is a good thing like normal. If you draw the joker you can use it for an action anytime you want that round. This includes interrupting and preempting another action without even having to make an opposed quickness check. You cannot put a Red Joker ‘up your sleeve’.
And the final perk of a Red Joker, as if the above wasn’t enough…you get a single draw from the Fate pot.
Bad news for you. You hesitate, maybe your spooked when the critter pukes up its own guts and they wrap around your friend..maybe that crazy shooting her gun at you reminds you of your mom. Regardless you immediately discard the Black Joker and any card up your sleeve. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Marshall gets a draw from the Fate pot.
To make things worse, at the end of that round of combat the entire party action deck is reshuffled so the Black Joker can show up again sooner.
If there is a chance the Marshall thinks you might not be expecting trouble, or maybe just caught off guard you will be asked to make a Cognition check. If you don’t make the roll, you don’t get any cards for the first round. Each following round you may make a Fair (TN 5) Guts check, once you make the check you may begin gaining cards that round.
There may be times you want to hold your action, this is called cheatin’. When the card you are holding comes up, you may place the card ‘up your sleeve’. From then until you use it, you may use this ‘card up your sleeve’ to go before any subsequent action. You may only have one card up your sleeve.
To interrupt an action that is going on though, you must make an opposed Quickness roll against the other character’s action. If you get a success, both actions occur simultaneous. If you get at least one raise you go first.