There are a number of proprietary games played with decks similar to a conventional deck of cards, but with a different number of suits, or a different number of cards in a suit, or both.
Aside from such special decks, there are also tradional games which use a different deck from the conventional one, such as the various games which use the Tarot card deck.
An ancestor of Whist was played with this deck, where the series of 21 cards with pictures was always the trump suit, and the Fool played a special role.
The thought occurred to me recently that it's surprising that no one ever made a deck of cards like this:
Four of the suits would be the normal Spades, Clubs, Diamonds, and Hearts, so the additional suit would be distinctive; perhaps stars or bells.
Such a deck could clearly be used for playing games requiring a 78-card Tarot-style deck, because the cards numbered from 15 to 21 could not only be treated as trumps, but as the continuation of the fifth suit.
But it could also be used for games like Bridge, because it would also be possible to choose one of the five suits as the trump suit which the fixed trumps from 15 to 21 would continue. The suit could be chosen by turning a card, as in Whist; chosen by the dealer, as in Bridge; or be decided as the result of a process of bidding, as in Auction Bridge and Contract Bridge.
Copyright (c) 2009 John J. G. Savard