Comet is played on a large field, usually round, especially in Missea, but square fields exist. It is a wild, brutal game with few rules. Players wear leather vests, decorated with the team’s color or emblem. The vests serve to mark the teams for the judge.
Four teams of four men each play the game; four balls are used. Each ball (or ‘comet’, as they are called in Missea) is marked with a number of painted dots: one with five dots; one with three; one with one; and the final ball has no dots. The balls are then covered with a clinging soot-dirt, to hide the dots.
As the game plays and the balls thrown and passed, the dirt slowly rubs away and the value of the ball revealed.
To score, a team sinks a ball into the comet tail or the cone in the center of the field. There is only one tail. A circle is drawn around it; it is against the rules to enter the circle without permission. (Before the game, the Judge will call the four team Captains into the circle, where each will chose one of the four balls and throw it out to his team on the field.
A team may not score twice. It can, however, sink a second ball to stop another team from doing so. Upon sinking a second ball, the team must retire from the field.
When all balls are sunk, the game stops. The Judge will then pull out the balls and clear any remaining soot.
A team is awarded points both for the value of the ball it sunk, and the order of sinking it. The first ball scored is worth 3 points, the second 2 points, the third 1 point, and the last ball receives zero points.
Thus sinking the five spot ball first earns the team 8 points total – which guarantees a win. Sinking the five spot ball last earns five points, which would lose if another team sunk the three spot ball first, giving them six points total.
If two teams score the same number of points, a Tie game or Death game is played.
This would occur, for example, if one team sunk the three ball first (earning 6 points) and another team sunk the five ball third.
Only those two teams play with all four balls. The match lasts until all four balls are sunk — there is no restriction on sinking multiple balls. When the last ball goes into the Comet tail, all points are tallied and the team with the most points wins.
The greatest injuries occur in Tie games.
Different regions seem to practice different strategies.
On the Wavering Continent, where Trumen comprise the vast majority, Gamesmen typically sink the ball at the earliest opportunity. Usually the first ball wins, and if they can then sink a second ball to prevent another team from earning second ball points, the odds are well in their favor.
On the Great Continent, home to the Skullan city of Missea, Gamesmen prefer to play until the spots are revealed on the ball. Thus they know when they sink the five ball that they have won.