A loosely defined index card based system, with Player and Referee cards having various effects and outcomes.
The thing that most stuck out about Five Cards to me was a subtle risk/reward mechanic that I’d probably like to see explored further. The game uses “action cards” drawn at random to determine player success on what is essentially a five point scale with complete success at one end, complete failure at the other, and a few outcomes in between. The GM also draws from a similar set of five cards and this is where it gets interesting and where the risk/reward mechanic comes into play. Depending on the GM card, the player’s action card can go to the player, be passed onto another player, go to the GM’s pile for their use, or its outcome is determined by a player vote. While at first glance it would seem to the player’s benefit to discard action cards with negative results and hold onto action cards with positive results, player also need to hold onto action cards as a form of HP. Lose all your action cards while wounded and you die. This leads to situations where players feel compelled to hold onto bad cards simply to have cards in their hand and keep their characters alive, knowing that they may randomly draw these bad cards while performing their actions. It’s a simple mechanic, but one I really enjoyed, and as stated previously, I’d love to see further developed.