Icon disambig.svg
For the Caravan card items, see Caravan card.

Bidding interface

Caravan is a card game played by caravan guards and travelers in the Mojave Wasteland.

Background[edit | edit source]

Out in the wasteland, the game of choice is Caravan. Created by caravan guards using whatever cards they could find lying around, this is a one-on-one card game played with a cobbled together deck of loose playing cards. Caravan is not played in casinos, but is very popular among caravan guards and other frequent travelers on the Long 15. Because Caravan allows players to build decks from any card they can find, crafty caravan guards often come up with devious decks and strategies. Caravan is played for standard money of any and all kinds: caps, NCR dollars, or legion coins. Because the players are often poor, the stakes tend to be low.

Obtaining a deck and additional cards[edit | edit source]

A free 54 card starter deck and game instructions can be received from Ringo in Goodsprings. This deck comprises 53 of the 54 cards from the The Tops' set (There are 2 Kings of Diamonds, the King of Clubs is missing). Additional cards can be obtained from various merchants and corpses across the Mojave Wasteland, by beating Festus at Lucky Horseshoes, or found in the Sierra Madre.

How to play[edit | edit source]

Card table

Bidding[edit | edit source]

At the outset of the game, the opponent will place a bid. The player can then either match or raise. Non-player characters will not match every bid, only raising to about 50% of their initial bid. The player can bid any amount they want, limited only by their opponent's bid and the amount of money they have.

Building a deck[edit | edit source]

Caravan decks are composed of at least 30 cards from one or more traditional playing card sets. The deck may have any number of cards of any type, although it cannot have duplicate cards from the same set. For example, a King of Spades with The Tops on the reverse and a King of Spades with Gomorrah on the reverse is acceptable, but more than one King of Spades from The Tops deck is not. Any duplicate cards purchased by the player are automatically filtered out of the selection process.

Building a custom deck[edit | edit source]

FNV Caravan cards.png

Prior to beginning the game, the player is presented with the "deck creation interface". This interface consists of two rows of cards, both representing every card in the deck. The visible cards in the top row represent the playable deck, while the bottom row are the unused cards.

A deck is created by moving cards from the bottom row to the top row using the Add button. Cards can also be removed using the Remove button. The "Randomize Deck" button will randomly select cards, creating a new caravan deck each time from all the available cards in your total card pool. Once the player is finished creating their deck, they can move on to the game. The finished deck will be saved and cannot be edited until the next time Caravan is played.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Caravan is played with two players building three opposing caravans (or "bids") of numbered cards. The goal is to outbid the opponent in all of the three caravans by keeping the number of points on each above 20 and below 27 (21-26) while preventing the opponent from doing the same.

The game begins with each player taking eight cards from their deck and placing either one numerical card or Ace on each of their caravans. A player may not discard during this initial round. (This is currently bugged, see Bugs.) Once both players have started their three bids, each player may do one of the following on their turn:

  1. Play one card and draw a new card from their deck into their hand.
  2. Discard one card from their hand and draw a new card from their deck.
  3. Disband one of their three caravans by removing all cards from that caravan.

After the initial card is played, the following card determines the direction of the caravan, either ascending or descending numerically. All subsequent cards must continue that numerical direction and/or match the suit of the previous card. Playing a same-suit card will change the direction of the caravan, if applicable. Cards of the same numerical value cannot be played in sequence, regardless of suit. Face cards and Jokers can be attached to an Ace or numeric card in a caravan (including your opponents') and affect them in various ways. A total of three cards may be attached to any given regular card, after which the only way to remove that card is through the use of a Jack or discarding the entire caravan.

Card values[edit | edit source]

Card Can be played against Effect
Ace - Adds 1 to caravan value.
Number cards (2-10) - Adds card value to caravan value.
Jack Ace, 2-10 Removes that card from the table, along with any face cards (Jokers, Kings or Queens) attached to it.
Queen Ace, 2-10 Changes the suit of the card it's played on and reverses the direction of the caravan if played on the lead card. For example, playing a Queen of Hearts on the lead card in a 5-7-9 caravan will change the 9 to Hearts and make the direction descending. Multiple Queens may be played on the same card.
King Ace, 2-10 Doubles the value of the number card it's played on. For example, a King played on a 4 adds 4 to that caravan. Multiple Kings may be played on the same card for multiplicative effects; thus, a second King will re-double the value resulting from the first King, so 4 x 2 = 8 then 8 x 2 = 16.
Joker Ace, 2-10 Effects change based on whether the Joker is played against an Ace or a number card:
  • When played against Ace: Jokers played on Aces remove all other non-face cards of the Ace's suit from the table. A Joker played on an Ace of Spades, for example, removes the 2 through the 10 of Spades. This has no effect on cards whose suit has been changed by a Queen, nor on any cards played after the Joker.
  • When played against number card (2-10): Jokers played on number cards remove all other cards of this value from the table. For example, a Joker played on a 4 of Hearts removes all 4s (other than the card the Joker is played upon) from the table. This only affects cards played before the Joker.

Multiple Jokers may be played on the same card.

Winning[edit | edit source]

A player's caravan is considered sold when the value of its cards is over 20 and under 27. The opponent may still outbid by increasing the value of their opposing pile while staying within the 21-26 range. The game ends when each of the competing caravans is sold to either the opponent or the player, with the victor providing a better bid for at least two of the caravans.

In the event of a tie between any two matched caravans, the game continues until one side has a better bid. The player with two or more sales on their side at the end of the game wins the pot. If either player runs out of cards to discard before a winning condition is met, the player will not be able to discard and will be declared the loser regardless of how many winning caravans they have.

It is possible to win if outbidding the other player is not possible. When running out of opportunities to win, continuously discard empty caravan piles instead of discarding the individual cards in your hand. If placing face cards can cause the opponent to NOT "sell their caravans" while the player keeps at least 1 card in their hand, then they should be able to win because the opponent does not know how to select an empty caravan slot and "discard" it in order to stall the victory. The idea is that the player's hand would be predominantly face cards towards the realization of their inability to win and they would use this strategy to win. Face cards are imperative because interaction with the opponent's caravans cannot work without them.

Caravan players[edit | edit source]

Name Location Common bids Merchant Game Limit[2]
Cliff Briscoe Dino Bite gift shop *[1] Yes 5 Games
Dale Barton The Fort *[1] Yes None
Amb. Dennis Crocker NCR Embassy Holds 2000 caps No None
Isaac Gun Runners Holds 200-227 caps No None
Private Jake Erwin NCR Embassy Holds 200-209 caps No None
Johnson Nash Primm *[1] Yes 5 Games
Jules North Vegas Square Holds 0-20 caps No None
Keith Aerotech suite 200 0 No None
Lacey Mojave Outpost *[1] Yes 5 Games
Little Buster Camp McCarran Holds 300-390 caps No None
Quartermaster Mayes Camp Forlorn Hope *[1] Restricted 5 Games
No-bark Noonan Novac Holds 2000 caps No None
Ringo Goodsprings/Crimson Caravan Camp Holds 200-230 caps No None
Jed Masterson Northern passage/Southern passage Holds 200-300 caps No None
  • [1] Merchants who play Caravan will use one quarter of their currency as starting bid. Spending caps with them increases the amount they hold and the amount they bet, and vice versa. Merchants may also pay out in any alternate currencies they have in their inventory, including any you had already exchanged with them.
  • [2] Certain merchants have a limit on the total number of times they will play Caravan against the player. This limit is absolute and does not "reset" at any point during the game.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Planting any currency (caps, NCR dollars or Legion coin) into an opponent's inventory will increase the amount of money they spend while playing Caravan.
  • A caravan deck can only be received from Ringo, either through dialogue options via the unmarked quest Ringo's Caravan Rules or by killing him.
  • Six names can be seen carved into the table where all Caravan games are played (one for each "caravan" spot), each of which is a location in New California (Boneyard, Redding, Shady Sands, Dayglow, New Reno, and The Hub).
  • Merchants (if anted properly) can place as much as 81.5% of their available currency on a particular hand of Caravan. This can be done by buying out their inventory, or just an expensive item, until they have a large cap amount, then matching and raising their bet to win it all back. This can be repeated 5 times per merchant.
  • Easiest way to win is to find as many 6s, 8s, 10s, and Kings as possible. Then build a deck with just 6s, 8s, 10s, and Kings (or as much as you can. Keep the deck to 30 cards) Play combinations of 10-6 and 10-8 into piles. Play King on the 10 in a 10-6 or on the 8 in a 10-8. Just discard if you don't have what you need.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

  • The achievement/trophy names Know When to Hold Them and Know When to Fold Them (in game challenge) are references to the song The Gambler by Kenny Rogers.
  • Both Klamath Bob and Melissa Lewis were at one point intended to be Caravan players. Their Caravan decks are in the game's resources, but the dialogue options do not exist. Additionally, Poindexter appears to have been intended to be a Caravan player. In this case the dialogue option is present, but the associated dialogue script, caravan deck, and necessary faction assignment are missing.

Bugs[edit | edit source]

  • PCIcon pc.png Xbox 360Icon xbox360.png Playing with any no-game-limit non-player character when they hold 59804 caps will result in the player winning up to 52029 caps. Dale Barton will fall back to 59804. This action is repeatable. Also, the game may crash when the non-player character holds more than 65,535 ((2^16)-1) caps in his inventory.[verified]
  • PCIcon pc.png Playstation 3Icon ps3.png Xbox 360Icon xbox360.png Though the rules state no discarding may occur during the initial round, it is nonetheless possible to do so anyway. If the player does so, their opponent does not get a turn and the player gets to go again. The non-player character will also use this bug to their advantage. This is likely due to the fact that if you started with (for example) all queens, you could not make a move and the game could not progress.[verified]
  • After the game ends:
    • Xbox 360Icon xbox360.png When it says to press any button to continue pressing start and then hitting start again will cause the game to become unresponsive, while party chat still works.[verified]
    • Playstation 3Icon ps3.png The button to continue will sometimes lag over. (Pressing (O) to exit will sometimes cause the Pip-Boy to open and pressing (X) will sometimes trigger dialogue with the opposing player).[verified]
  • PCIcon pc.png It is not possible for the player to discard cards once their main deck is empty. The opponent will still be able to do so once their deck is gone.[verified]
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360.png When putting a card onto any pile, the green validation card will show upside down[verified]
  • PCIcon pc.png A bug may occur where the non-player character will not bid any caps even if the player wagers caps. If this happens, the player may lose his wager if they lose and won't win anything if they win.[verified]
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360.png Some caravan card games may not load up a screen, but rather load up the options to choose cards. The screen will remain with the player looking at their opponent.[verified]
  • PCIcon pc.png Playstation 3Icon ps3.png Xbox 360Icon xbox360.png When drawing or discarding, some cards may change to a different card (ex. 7 to a 10) for the duration of the animation and then change back.[verified]
  • PCIcon pc.png Once the game starts and the non-player character places their first card for their caravan, you're not able to select any cards to be placed in your caravans[verified]
  • PCIcon pc.png Playstation 3Icon ps3.png There is a possibility that you will not be awarded the trophy/achievement "Caravan Master" upon reaching the 30 wins required to get the trophy.[verified]
  • PCIcon pc.png When playing Caravan, the game may end abruptly even when the win conditions are not met. Either the player or non-player character can win. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc.png When playing Caravan, if you remove an opponent's card, lowering their score below 21, the game can still end as if the column is still sold prior to enough cards being re-added. This is a bug, as this does not happen when a column is removed to try and restart it, nor is the column value noted anywhere. [verified]

See also[edit | edit source]

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