In the Serenity 'Verse the game of Go Fish is played tournament style for money and glory. Think of Mexican wrestling only with cards and they hit each other for real.

Wilks has, on more than a few occasions, competed in professional Go Fish! tournaments on an interplanetary level. Lennon is a registered IFPL physician. He is registered under the name "Dr. Winston O'Boogie".

The Game's Origin

Go Fish originally was played by the lower class on the generational boats that brought us away from Earth-that-Was. Rules evolved and developed over time, dictating attacks on other players. Currently, The IPFL (Interplanetary Fishplayers League) is located on Gonghe and governs the sport in single elimination and ladder format.

IPFL Rules

The Interplanetary Fish Players League requires that each player have at least one medical doctor on staff during game play. Events are not allowed to include more than one set of IPFL Sanctioned Spanners on a single player.

Game Play

(Basic rules provided by wikipedia)

The Setup:

  • A round is played between 4 players
  • From a standard 52 card deck, seven cards are dealt to each player.
  • The remaining card pack is shared between the players, usually sprawled out in a non-orderly pile referenced as the "pond" or "swimmin' hole" depending on whether you are in Red Sun or Kalidasa systems.

Game Play:

  • The player whose turn it is to play asks another player for their cards of a particular rank. For example, "Steve, do you have any threes?" Players can not ask for a card they are not holding, and cannot ask for an entire suit. The recipient of the request must then hand over all cards of that rank, if they have any. The next turn is taken by the next player clockwise.
  • If the player who was asked has no cards of that rank, they say "go fish", and the asking player draws a card from the ocean. The turn then passes to the player who was asked.
  • When one player has three of the same cards of a given rank, they form a book, and the cards are placed face up on the table.
  • A book can be "stolen" by a player wielding a 4th card of the same rank.
  • The game is not over when a player runs out of cards. That player simply draws a card from the ocean, and the turn passes to the next player in the clockwise rotation.
  • Each card in each book is worth 1 point.


  • The game ends when all cards have been used, and all books have been obtained - a "win by accumulation" is awarded to the player with the most books. They go to the next round ranked by those books added to their accumulated points.
  • OR when only one of the four players retains the physical ability to continue to play - a "win by annihilation" is awarded to the last player standing. They go to the next round ranked by their accumulated points + 100.
  • Wins by accumulation are more common on the amateur circuit.


  • This is the heart of the modern game of Go Fish! Fighting is sanctioned in the following circumstances and resolves in the following way.
When to Fight Resolution
When a book is stolen winner keeps the 4 card book
When the ocean is drawn from winner keeps the card drawn
When bluffing is suspected usually becomes a 3 against 1 brawl. Losers discards their hands in to the pond which is reshuffled.

Fish and Fighting

A good fish player depends on reflexes, wits, and pure upper body strength. A good fish player knows that their horse stance and hammer punches are good for more than just the game. (Its not a game about winning, its a game about surviving.) While there is no official school of fish-based fighting, there are commonalities. Basic fundamentals are compared to Krav Maga which focuses on targeting attacks to the body's most vulnerable points, neutralizing opponents as quickly as possible, countering attacks, total awareness and improvised weapon combat. These themes all find their way into the age old and traditional game of Fish.

Fish Medicine

Fish is the only sport in the 'Verse so rough that it requires each player to maintain their own medical staff. During game play only doctors and referees are allowed into the "pit" with the players. Most of the doctors attracted to the world of Fish are former combat medics and trauma surgeons though a few adventurous physicians have been known to moonlight. It is certainly not a respectable way to practice medicine by any means, but for many doctors it is very lucrative. Doctors on the professional circuit often have the sponsorship of medical equipment suppliers and pharmaceutical companies.

Doctors participating in a tournament must wear an armband showing their IPFL Physician Registration number at all times, whether spectating or working. While in the pit, doctors a required to wear protective clothing consisting of a textile ballistic vest capable of withstanding punctures of 2300 newtons in force and a drop mass of 75 kg/m2 plus a helmet with a blood and shatter resistant face mask.

Fun Fish Facts

  • The game of Fish is responsible for over 12% of rim-world tavern brawls.
  • The first set of weighted fish spanners were constructed with a Carbon Fiber grip and surgical steel ends with beveled edges. At that time, insurance for top ranked Fish players could cost more than a small ship.
  • IPFL Sanctioned Spanners are measured on the empirical scale rather than the universal metric.
  • When played in high society, if at all, players use shortened riding crops instead of spanners and an abridged rule set.
  • IPFL tournament players are registered on several core and rim world watch lists.
  • The final round of an official tournament is a steel cage match.
  • Security at Fish tournaments is provided by IPFL security officers, some of the most intimidating people in the 'Verse. Rumor has it the minimum requirements are Alliance Special Forces experience or multiple convictions for Assault or Homicide.
  • There have only been two successful female professional fish players.