This text is copyrighted by Karl Rasmussen 1980

Copyrighted by us copyright office.

See wikipedia for proof of copyright.

For the solitaire card game, see Pyramid (solitaire).

Pyramid is a dedicated-deck card game, based on a similar game played in the original Battlestar Galactica series. In the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series it is referred to as Triad while the term "Pyramid" is now used to refer to the close-quarters, full-contact sport originally referred to as Triad.

The card game version has been compared to poker and is the primary off-duty leisure activity portrayed in both Battlestar Galactica television series.

The rules of the game and details of the cards are never explicitly defined in either series, and have been expanded by card game manufacturers.

The cards[]

  • A Pyramid deck consists of 55 total cards, comprising nine third-level cards of each of three colors, six second-level cards in each color, three first-level cards in each color, and ONE capstone card.
  • Each card is in the shape of a regular hexagon.
  • The reverse of each card shows the card's color (suit) and level (rank). The edges of each card's reverse have a series of triangles in the card's color to indicate the card's rank.
  • The obverse of each card is marked with a dual-triangle design.

Card colors (suits)[]

A deck of Pyramid cards contains four colors. Three of these are card colors — purple, green, and orange — and a single card, the Capstone, is in black. The color of a Pyramid is only a determining factor when tying pyramids are "Perfect Pyramids" only. Otherwise, color does not factor into ranking of hands. Purple cards are ranked higher than green, which are in turn higher than orange.

Card levels (ranks)[]

Cards are classified into three levels or ranks. Potentially winning hands require specific combinations of these card levels. Unlike in poker, Pyramid does not have such a smorgasbord of possible winning hands. Though this may, prima facie, seem to make Pyramid an easier game, Pyramid is not as simple as it may appear and requires foresight, strategy and balancing risk with caution.

  • First Level Cards are essentially blank on the inside with a trio of small equilateral triangles along each of the six edges. There are nine of these cards in each color in a standard Pyramid deck.
  • Second Level Cards have an outline of an equilateral triangle centered on the card with two small equilateral triangles along each of the six edges. There are six of these cards in each color in a standard Pyramid deck.
  • Third Level Cards have a solid equilateral triangle centered on the card with one small equilateral triangle along each of the six edges; on these cards, the triangles on the edges are twice as large as the small triangles on the first and second -level cards. There are three of these cards in each color in a standard Pyramid deck.
  • The Capstone Card appears identical to third level cards, except its color is black. The capstone is a wildcard and may be used in the formation of any level and color of pyramid. It is intrinsic to the ultimate Pyramid hand, the Capstone Pyramid.

Game play[]

Order of play[]


  • As in most card games, the cards are shuffled thoroughly and cut before play. Cards are dealt from the dealer's immediate left and around the table, ending with the dealer. Each player is dealt six cards face-down. In the television series, hexagonal tables are used.
  • Play begins with the person to the dealer's immediate left and continues to the left around the table. The dealer is the last person to play.


  • After all players are dealt their cards, players may pick up their cards. They may move them around, place them on the table, or otherwise organize them so long as all cards are within view at all times. (Condensing the cards together is permissible, even though only one card is directly viewable.)
  • Players may discard up to four of their cards, but are not required to discard any cards if they wish to do so.


  • After all players have chosen their discards, they place them — in dealing order — on the discard pile and announce how many cards they are discarding. The dealer will then deal the same number of cards to the player so that each player, in turn, will again have six total cards. When all players have discarded and received replacement cards, the dealer will then draw.

Best Pyramid[]

  • Upon receiving the replacement cards, players construct their best possible Pyramids. Around the table in the same order as the deal, players announce their hands and lay them out in the correct positioning. A player may elect to "fold" their hand at any time and forfeit any possibility of winning the hand; a folded hand is not required to be shown to other players.


  • Bets are taken after the first deal and after the second deal. The first round of betting is done before any discards are announced and the second round is done before any player announces their hand. Betting begins with the player to the dealer's left and continues in the same order as the deal.
  • Some games may impose limits on bets, such as a maximum bet or maximum raise, or disallowing bets which cannot be matched by all players.
  • Betting on a hand ends when the same bet is reached around the table, as in poker.


The Ranking of Hands Ranks of Hands A pyramid is made up of at least three cards.

1. First level pyramid consist of 2 third level, and 1 second level card.

2. Second level pyramid consist of 3 third level, and 2 second level card.

3. Third level pyramid consist of 3 third level, 2 second level cards, and 1 first level card.

4. Any of the above may be considered "perfect" when all of the cards used are of the same color. ("Perfect" pyramids rank higher than non-perfect pyramids.)

5. If two or more perfect pyramids are the same level, then the highest suit would win. (NOTE: Only perfect pyramids can be ranked by suit; non-perfect pyramids are considered to have no suit.)

6. If two or more pyramids are still equal, then the persons play another hand to decide the winner. Found on below link

  • The winner in a hand of Pyramid is determined by the size of their Pyramids. There are three levels of Pyramids (first, second, and third), two types of pyramids (perfect and non-perfect), and one special pyramid (the Capstone Pyramid).
  • Non-perfect pyramids are not ranked by color. When two non-perfect pyramids are shown at the same level and no other player can best them, the two with the tying pyramids show their best remaining card (first level is best, third level is worst) to determine the winner. If still a tie, repeat the process to the exhaustion of remaining cards in one's hand. If still tied (not particularly likely), the tying players play a second hand alone to determine a winner.
  • When two perfect pyramids are played on the same hand, the one in the greater color wins. In the case of color-matched perfect pyramids, the high card not part of the pyramid determines the winner.


  • One of the most commonly-encountered risk decisions surfaces when initially dealt a hand consisting of one third level card, two second level cards, one first level card and two other second or first level cards. In this instance, the player has basically two options:
    • The player may discard only the two extra cards, hoping to receive at least one third level card (to create a first level pyramid, a weak hand) or receive two third level cards to complete the third level pyramid (a strong hand).
    • Alternatively, the player may decide to discard both extra cards and the first level card in order to increase the odds of receiving two third level cards, which would then give a second level pyramid, a hand stronger than the first level pyramid in the first option and weaker - though much more likely - than the third level pyramid that is possible, though not likely, above.


Many variations of the basic Pyramid card game exist. These include variations without the discarding of cards, dealing cards face-up, discarding cards twice, and dealing more than six cards (usually eight cards, but not always).

With a standard deck[]

If a deck of Pyramid cards is not available, one may be improvised using three decks of standard playing cards, using the following:

  • The aces of hearts, clubs, and diamonds from all three decks. These will take the place of the First Level cards. They are easy to recognize by their usually distinctive face and large letter "A" on the top-left and bottom-right corners.
  • The king and queen of hearts, clubs, and diamonds from all three decks. These will take the place of Second Level Cards. They are easy to recognize during Pyramid play as "face cards."
  • The two, three, and four of hearts, clubs, and diamonds from all three decks. These will take the place of Third Level Cards. They are easy to recognize during Pyramid play because of their small number and minimal design.
  • The ace of spades from only one deck. This card will take the place of the Capstone Card. This card is very easily recognizable as most Earth-based playing card manufacturers highly embellish this card.
  • In this improvised deck, purple is replaced by hearts, green is replaced by clubs, and orange is replaced by diamonds for purposes of color-ranking hands.

Other games played with a Pyramid deck[]

Kobolian Solitaire[]

  • A game played with a standard deck of Pyramid cards, its goal is to form perfect pyramids much in the same way as the Earth card game solitaire with some significant modifications. It is named for the planet Kobol, from which the Lords of Kobol fled to form the Twelve Colonies in the television series.

Tauron Hold-Em[]

  • Named for the colony Tauron in the television series, Tauron Hold-Em is a variation of Pyramid where all players share a set of cards dealt face-up at the center of the playing surface and combine them with cards dealt face-down to each individual.

Pyramid Rummy[]

  • Played with a standard Pyramid deck, Pyramid Rummy is a game using the same concepts of pyramid-building as the original Pyramid game but works without the draw, betting between draws, and a single hand rarely determines a winner. It is played to a preset point total and games can last many hands. With larger groups, two or sometimes even three Pyramid card decks may be combined.

Dead Man's Chest[]

  • Dead Man's Chest is a card game, played with the same cards as those used in Triad. According to Saul Tigh, it is a "cut-throat game", and was not Kara Thrace's style (Torn).

Additional notes and trivia[]

  • In the re-imagined series, Pyramid is the name given to the sport Triad. In the original series, Pyramid was a card game and Triad was a full-contact arena athletic contest. Producer Ronald D. Moore, says in the commentary for the fourth episode of season 2 that he confused Pyramid with Triad due to lack of familiarity with the original series, and the "new" terms entered into the new series from the mini-series. As a result, the current series continues to refer to the sport of Pyramid and the card game may be called "Triad". The highest hand in the reimagined game is called "Full Colors". In Moore's podcast commentaries, he indicates that the game's name is Triad, though this term has yet to be used on-screen for the game.
  • Along with chain-smoking cigars while playing the game, the almost compulsive Pyramid playing of Starbuck is one of the most recognizable aspects of the Starbuck (played by Dirk Benedict) in the original Battlestar Galactica series that was retained in the new series' Starbuck.


External links[]