What are Trick-Taking Games?
Trick-taking games are played using cards (sometimes tiles) and revolve around winning tricks, which are a finite number
How to Play Trick-Taking Games
Each round has a dealer, which is decided via deck-splitting. The dealer shuffles the deck and deals the cards to the other players. Depending on the game-type, players are dealt a certain number of cards, and the remaining cards are either set aside or form the discard pile.
The goal of the game is to win by scoring high or other similar conditions. Scores are awarded by winning individual tricks, and the key to winning rounds is to manage your cards and taking control of the tricks and trumps.
Tricks and Trumps
The individual tricks are split across multiple rounds. The dealer begins the first trick by playing a card, therefore leading the trick. Other players then attempt to win the trick by playing cards, with some players requiring to follow suit. A player can win by playing a card of a higher value, with the same suit. If a player does not have a card from the same suit, they must still play a card of their choosing, but forfeit the round.
Certain games introduce the trump suits, which are determined either by a draw from the remaining cards, or through bidding. The trump suit becomes a winning suit during the game, and adds a layer of strategy to the game, since these mitigate the advantage of the players leading the trick.
The winner of one trick will lead the next trick. This process continues until all hands are emptied.
In general, the player who wins the most tricks wins the game by score.
Trick-taking card games have certain rules to smoothen gameplay.
If the leading player plays a card of a certain suit, the other players will be required to play cards of the same suit in order to win. Even if a player has no cards of the correct suit, they are still required to play a card.
If the game involves trump suits, then these suits will become the highest ranked suit for the duration of that game, winning even against the leading suit.
The trick-taking game rules are:
- Dealer is determined.
- Each player is dealt cards based on game-type.
- Dealer leads the first trick, determining the lead suit.
- Players play cards to win the trick, while requiring following suit.
- Even if a player does not have a card from the same suit, they are still required to play 1 card.
- The winner of the trick leads the next trick.
- The player winning more tricks overall becomes the winner.
- If trump suits are included, the trump suit overrides the leading suit.
- Forfeit rounds you know you can’t win. If your opponent plays a card of a suit you have, but not of a high value, it might be worth keeping that card to play later on a more likely win.
- Play out higher valued cards when you can, since it increases the chances you have to win.
- Be careful even when forfeiting rounds. The obvious choice is to discard a card of another suit, but it can be worth playing cards of the same suit but of a bad value instead.
- One of the most common strategies for trick-taking card games is to predict. The dealer will generally play high-valued cards early on to gain the advantage, allowing you to gauge their hands.
Point-trick games are focused on gathering points, which are awarded based on conditions and winning tricks. Winning a trick obviously awards points, but in games such as Piquet, leading a trick awards points as well. Speaking of Piquet, which is one of the classic trick-taking games, achieving conditions, such as starting with a hand of no face cards, will also award points. Some games such as Sheng Ji award different scores for different cards.
Plain-trick games, such as the popular Bridge, are scored completely based on the number of tricks won. There are no special rules or point counting, hence resulting in a game completely revolving around resource management. Other examples include Whist and Tippen, both games popular in European countries.
Trick-avoidance games such as Hearts is about avoiding tricks. Unlike other games, the goal is different, and lower-valued cards are more valuable, making it a game of deceit and deception. Other games include Polignac ad Slobberhannes, where the goal is to avoid tricks ad certain cards (Jacks in the former and the Queen of Clubs in the latter).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most popular trick-taking games?
The most popular trick-taking games are Skat and Hearts, which was popularized by bundling in older versions of Windows.
Are there solo trick-taking games?
Trick-taking games tend to be multiplayer affairs, since there is an element of deception and resource management.
How do I play games requiring the 40-card Spanish deck?
Since Spanish decks are similar to the modern Anglo-American 52-card deck, you can adapt it by removing the 8, 9 and 10 cards, forming a 40-card deck.