Wicked Grace is a card game with two or more players common to Thedosians. It emphasizes deception, cleverness, and the matching of various hands of cards to achieve a numerically winning hand. Card suits are based on negative and positive states, or alternatively upon virtues and vices, hence the name "Wicked Grace".
Dealer shuffles, and starts. Each player is dealt five cards, and cannot have more than five cards in hand at a time. The exception to this being that a player can “play” cards, placing them on the table in front of them. Played cards do not count against the five in their hand. Cards are sometimes played upside-down or in reverse.
Before the turns start, there's a round of betting, the same as in poker: players can call, raise, or fold.
Each turn, the player draws one card from the deck, discards and/or plays cards until they have five cards in hand again, then ends their turn.
When the Angel of Death card is drawn, the card must immediately be revealed and the game ends. All players show their hands, and the one with the best hand wins.
To win the game, you must have the hand of the highest value when the game ends—similar to how you win at poker.
That being said: the rules to Wicked Grace are treated more like guidelines. Half the fun of the game is to cheat without being caught. Cheating in Wicked Grace can be done in a number of ways, such as drawing two cards instead of one, drawing from the discard pile, not revealing when the player has drawn the Angel of Death until they like their hand, stacking the deck in their favor, etc. So long as you’re not caught cheating, the rules don’t matter. This is presumably why characters like Cullen and Cassandra, known for being honest rule-followers, are hopeless at Wicked Grace, whereas characters like Isabela and Josephine Montilyet, known for their cunning and sleight of hand, excel at it.
Cards and Card Suits
There are four card suits: Serpents, Songs, Angels, and Knights, with an unknown number of cards in each suit. Many fans include a fifth suit, Daggers, likely due to the Serpent-Entwined Dagger card. However, since there are no other mentions of a Daggers suit in any of the games, it is more likely that the Serpent-Entwined Dagger is a part of the Serpents suit.
In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Cassandra off-handedly mentions there being two additional suits: Drakes and Swords, but it is likely these are just alternate names for the pre-existing Serpents and Knights suits.
Not all cards are mentioned by name, so the cards listed here are only what exist in the game files. Note that some card names are repeated, such as there being a Knight of Mercy and a Song of Mercy.
- Angel of Charity
- Angel of Death
- Angel of Fortitude
- Angel of Temerity
- Angel of Truth
- Knight of Ages
- Knight of Compassion
- Knight of Dawn
- Knight of Mercy
- Knight of Roses
- Knight of Sacrifice
- Knight of Wisdom
- Serpent of Avarice
- Serpent of Decay
- Serpent of Deceit
- Serpent of Sadness
- Serpent-Entwined Dagger
- Song of Autumn
- Song of Mercy
- Song of Temerity
- Song of Twilight
Winning hands aren’t mentioned in much detail in most of the games, sadly. Presumably, certain suits are of a higher value than others, as well as certain card themes (mercy, temerity, etc), and the more cards of the same suit/theme you have, the better.
We can infer that most (if not all) bad hands are ones with few or no matching suits. A middling hand might be one with two sets of matching suits, such as having two Serpents and two Songs. A good hand would mean having many cards of the same suit, such as having five Angels in hand. This is akin to poker hands, though poker prioritizes matching ranks instead of suits. That being said: if the Angel of Death is revealed at an inopportune moment, it's possible that a poor hand might still win the game, so long as the other players have even worse hands.
In Dragon Age: Origins, Isabela makes the following comments about winning and losing hands during her game against the Warden:
- “You have two angels and three knights! And all the same theme! That is one of the best hands I have ever seen. You’ve won!” (compare to full house)
- “I have four knights: roses, ages, sacrifice, and wisdom. It beats your hand.” (cf. four of a kind)
- “I have three angels: fortitude, truth, and charity, and the knight of dawn. I win!” (cf. three of a kind with a kicker)
- “Serpents of deceit and avarice, songs of temerity and mercy. Not a great hand, but I still win.” (cf. two pair)
- “Two serpents, a song… not bad. But the rest of your hand is… rather pitiable.” (cf. one pair with a kicker)
- “I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so odd a hand. None of your cards match.” (this is indeed odd, since a hand is five cards and there are only four suits.)
- “And I have songs of twilight and autumn, serpents of decay and sadness.” (cf. two pair)
- “The knights of compassion and mercy! They are only just better than mine, but better nonetheless. Congratulations!” (cf. one pair)
- Another common card game of chance in Thedas is Diamondback, a game most commonly played by Dwarven Noble hunters, though not exclusively. Chanson d'Argent and Dead Man's Tricks are also commonly played games.
- One of the methods of unlocking the Duelist specialization in Dragon Age: Origins is for the Warden to play and beat the pirate captain Isabela at Wicked Grace.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Varric will invite the Inquisitor to a game of Wicked Grace with some of their companions and advisors.