Getting Bennies from Initiative: A Quick House Rule

If you’ve ever played poker (and most have), it can be hard not to notice how your hand is shaping up during Savage Worlds initiative. This is especially true when you are acting consistently late in the round on the same number, because dammit, 4 might be a crappy initiative draw, but three 4s should count for something!

This is my current house rule; I am sure many other groups probably do something similar. When initiative is dealt, if a player’s action card gives them two of a kind, they receive a benny. They continue to gain bennies at three of a kind and four of a kind. PCs with the Level Headed edge only get to count the card that they actually act on.

Also, any player showing a full house gets the same benefit as drawing a Joker for that round (though the deck is not reshuffled after). Of course, to ever get to that point, five consecutive rounds have to go by without a Joker coming out.

Author: John Carr

Gamer, comic guy, office drone.

6 thoughts on “Getting Bennies from Initiative: A Quick House Rule”

  1. We’ve always played that the initiative cards go into the discard pile once you’ve acted (this was how I assumed it was meant to work) – you only keep your card (face-down) from one round to the next if you’re on hold – so we couldn’t use your idea. However, if two players’ cards make a pair and they can come up with a reasonable explaination of how they’re coordinating their moves, I give them both a +1 bonus to their action.

    1. Hmm, interesting. We don’t really have a singular discard pile; if a player has to discard a card, they just put it aside near them. I can’t find any specific reference to a discard pile in the rules, either, but I only started with Explorer Edition, so this may have been a rule from an earlier version of the game. Is there any functional involvement of the discard pile in your game, in the same way M:TG discard piles can come into play?

  2. We usually discard, but then the cards just sit there until a Joker is played meaning we shuffle everything back in. there really is no reason why the players can’t have a discard pile each though, and bennies for poor cards – especially a run of them – seems a great way to improve the ‘fun’ factor of the game.

    1. A discard for each player is essentially what we are doing, although I have realized that other groups maybe dealing face down and then doing the count. We’ve always dealt initiative face up, so the cards are already out on the table at the start of the round.

  3. Using a discard pile to makes it a little quicker to shuffle after someone pulls a joker: but then, we have a second deck (with different colour backs) on the table, shuffled and ready to go, so shuffle time isn’t critical. Its really just a convenience to not have to collect all the spent cards.
    I too started with SWEX, and going back I can’t see anywhere that explicitly says to use a discard pile – it was probably just force of habit from playing board games.
    We draw our own cards, then place them face up for all to see. Even though I like the tension of the countdown, the players prefer to see who’s-going-when so they can coordinate tactics and such, and if that’s what grinds their beans, I’m happy to play along.

  4. We use a second deck too, but that’s a good point about collecting — it always is a bit of a cluster while we’re collecting, but only for a few seconds.

    I’m really glad you commented, because it forced me to go back and read again and realize how little there is in terms of explicit instructions about how to handle initiative. Therefore I realize how much comes from the presuppositions of the first person in your group to read the rules and introduces them to everyone else. But then, the relatively light touch of the rules is one of my favorite things about SW.

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