Card Hockey is a Fishing Card Game popular in Canada. It is only playable with Two or Four Players.
The mechanics are such that it suggests a fictional game of Ice Hockey being played during the card game. Each of the mechanics in the game are intended to represent different aspects of the sport in a card-game format.
How to Play Hockey?
The Hockey card game is best enjoyed with four players, although it is possible to play with two players. It is played using the Standard Anglo-American 52-card deck. Players should form two teams of two, sitting across from each other. If playing Two-Player Hockey, the Players will simply oppose one another.
Each round of Hockey is not called a “Hand” or a “Round.” To simulate the sport of Ice Hockey, the games are called “Periods.”
Every game, just like the Sport, will have three such “Periods.” If there is a scoring tie, then the game enters “Sudden Death” and the rules change slightly. This will be explained below.
Once the Teams have been selected, any Dealer chosen by the Players’ preferred method will then deal all of the cards from the deck, one at a time.
Teams will sit across from each other, such that no team takes their turns one after the other.
Each Player will be left with 13 cards, or 26 if played with two people.
Starting the Game
The game begins with the Player to the left of the chosen Dealer.
Players will take turns shedding one card from their hand and playing it into the middle. Players must always shed at least one card, and cannot pass their turn.
Players shed their cards in a normal fashion until one of two things happens.
- Either a Player will shed a card that matches the rank of the previously shed card, OR
- A Jack will be played.
Players are attempting to create a “Breakaway” by matching their shed card to the previous Player’s shed card.
- Player 1 on Team 1 sheds a 10.
- Player 2 on Team 2 sheds a 10.
This is a Breakaway for Team 2.
When a Breakaway has been opened, the next match determines the outcome of the Breakaway.
- If the next Player to match is on Team 1, then the Breakaway is canceled, and there is now a Breakaway in Team 1’s favor.
- If the next Player to match is on Team 2, then Team 2 will “Score” and take their “Point”, the pile of cards created up until that point.
After a Player scores, Play continues normally with the next Player shedding their chosen card.
Jacks are a special card in Hockey, because Jacks are an automatic Breakaway.
Jacks can be used to immediately cancel an Opponent’s Breakaway, or to set up a Breakaway Match for your own team.
However, Jacks cannot be matched with Jacks so the Scoring Match must come from a different pair of cards.
Players are encouraged to commentate as they play, in order to make the game seem more like a game of hockey.
Players will announce “Breakaway!” when they are able to make a Breakaway Match, or “He Shoots, He Scores!” when they are able to successfully score a point.
If a Player misses their match for a Scoring Match by a single point, Players will say that it “Hit the Post” as though a Hockey Player took the shot, but the puck bounced off of the Goal Post.
Gameplay continues, with Players continuing to shed their cards and scoring points.
Points, the piles of cards or “tricks”, should be kept in separate individual piles so that it is obvious how many Points were won by a particular team.
The period ends when all of the cards have been shed from the respective Player’s hands. The remaining cards in the middle remain unclaimed and are not counted as a point.
Once a Period has been finished, the Dealer is randomly chosen once more by the Player’s preferred means, and a new Period begins. A game of Card Hockey is always a
minimum of three periods, sometimes four. The team with the higher score at the end of a Three-Period game wins.
Sudden Death Overtime
If the game is tied by the end of the fourth period, a “Sudden Death Overtime” round begins.
In Sudden Death, the Period continues until the first team to successfully make a Scoring Match does so. That team will immediately win the game.
The game of Hockey is scored by the number of points a team was able to score in each period. However, it is not as simple as tallying the number of points in your team’s possession.
At the end of the Period, the team with the most points will subtract the opposing team’s score from their own, and then tally that final score for the Period.
- Team 1 wins 3 Points, and Team 2 wins 2.
- Team 1’s score for the first Period is 1, or 1-0 overall.
The Team with the highest score after three Periods, or the winner of the Sudden Death Period, wins the game.
Hockey Card Game Rules
Game rules to keep in mind:
- Players can score on their own teammate’s Breakaway, so a Breakaway Match from Player 1 gives Player 3 the opportunity to make a Scoring Match.
- Players are encouraged to announce the card they are playing, or a special game position such as Breakaways or Scores as though they are Sports commentators watching an imaginary game of Hockey.
- Players cannot pass their turn, and each Player must shed one card per turn.
- Teammates are not permitted to show each other their cards. All Player cards must remain secret until they are shed.
- Suppose Player 1 sheds 8♠ and declares “Eight!”
- Then Player 2, on the opposite team, sheds a 5♣ and declares “Five!”
- Player 3 then plays a 5♣ for a Breakaway Match, and declares “Breakaway!”
- Player 4, as is customary, then commentates “He Shoots…”, as though he is a commentator, waiting for the potential goal.
Even though Player 4 is on the other team, it is good sportsmanship to set up the “He Shoots… He Scores!”
However, it is no goal after all.
Player 1 then takes their turn, plays a 4♣, and then declares “He misses, it Hit the Post!” because they were only a single rank away from scoring.
Each card in Hockey is supposed to represent an event on the Hockey Ice, and Players use their own imagination to create that event mentally.
Tips and Strategy
Use Jacks as Counter Cards
Jacks can set up a Breakaway, but you cannot get a Scoring Match from a Jack directly. As such, Jacks are generally better played as “Counter” cards, rather than offensively.
Playing a Jack to snub your opponent’s Breakaway can save you from losing a Point to the opposing team.
However, a Jack could also be played after a Breakaway Match to guarantee a Scoring Match. Jacks can still be used offensively in this way, but Players should avoid using their Jack to make a simple Breakaway Match.
Consider the Cards in Your Hand
You should consider the cards that are in your hand. Although you cannot know your teammate’s hand, you do know your own.
If you have two or three cards that are the same rank, you can be fairly certain that your opponents cannot form matches on them.
Even if the remaining card is in one of your opponent’s hands, which is twice as likely as your partner, they will only be able to score a single match, which is only a Breakaway, and can easily be countered by a Jack.