I heard mention on The Download of a game named Arcana that was the predecessor of Zarcana.  Looking around I've noticed that Zarcana came from Arcana, but I cannot find information on the differences between the two.  Is anyone familiar if Arcana was appreciably different than Zarcana, and if so what were those differences?

Thanks in advance.

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At fFirst, I was thinking you were asking about the difference between Gnostica and Zarcana.  But I quickly understood what you mean.

Zarcana is generally considered the earliest member of this branch of the fFamily tree.  But it is mentioned in a couple sources as having been previously known as Arcana.  It sounds like Zarcana and Arcana were the same basic game, but there were probably some kind of minor differences, as these things will have.  And why the name change, anyway?  Good darn question!!

Well, we can examine this set of older rules. Notice the repeated use of "Zarcana" in the page, but "Arcana" is in the file path, so my supposition is that the rules were posted, and then the author did a search and replace (or something like it) to change the word inside the fFile.


Compared to this set of somewhat newer rules:


The fFormat and structure of the two rule sets is quite a bit different.  Arcana has a lot more exposition about the virtues and qualities of the tarot deck, as well as having a lot more optional rules and "Technical Notes."  The older rules have a lot of alternate suggested actions to do with the trump cards.  I imagine there are other differences as well, if an interested party were to careful compare each card and action.

Looking at the page source for the older rules shows there is a Meta Tag of KeyWords, reading thus:

    meta name="KeyWords" content="game, tarot, cards, board game, strategy, arcana, anacra, war game"

Notice arcana is in there, but not Zarcana.  Interesting.  But wait, there is also Anacra!  what?  It's just the word "Arcana" spelled backwards, but why did the author provide that as a tag?  Was that a possible alternative name as well at some point?  Or just being a bit silly?

Interestingly, the old rules include a subtle hint at the fFuture of the fFamily, Zark City, which does not use a Tarot Deck at all, suggesting:

If you don't own a Tarot deck, don't despair. With a few modifications to the rules, you can use a regular deck of playing cards to play Zarcana.  The easiest way to play Zarcana with playing cards is to simply ignore all of the special trump rules...

Cool stuff!

The only difference is the Z.

At first John was calling it Arcana but then he heard about an existing game by that name, long forgotten but a worry at the time. So we added a Z at the front, which we all liked better anyway.

While I am a fan of simplicity, I was hoping for a super-exciting tale of intrigue around the name change.  This will do however.  


Thanks Andy!

Heh. What fFogus said. Thanks!!!



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