Charlemagne is a 4-player trick-taking card game that originated in Eastern Canada. It is a variation of the card game Euchre. Partners sit opposite each other and try to win tricks and meet bidding contracts to score points. The first team to reach 32+ points wins.
What You Need
- 4 players
- A Standard 52-card deck plus 2 distinguishable jokers (34 cards total)
- Pen and paper for scoring
To be the first team to score 32+ points by winning tricks and meeting bidding contracts.
Any player can deal first, there is no official process for determining the dealer. Players are free to use their own method of selecting the first dealer.
Now Shuffle and cut the deck.
Deal 8 cards to each player in batches of 2. During the deal, make sure to place 2 cards face down in the center to form the so-called “kitty”.
The deal rotates clockwise on each hand.
In the trump suit:
- High Joker (uncolored) – Highest ranking card
- Low Joker (colored) – Second highest ranking card
- Jack of the trump suit (Big Jack) – Third highest-ranking trump card
- Jack of the same color as trump (Little Jack) – Fourth highest-ranking trump card
- A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7 – Ranking from high to low after the Jokers and Jacks
The trump suit contains the Jokers, the Jack of the trump suit, and the Jack of the same color as the trump suit. For example, if spades are trump, the trump suit would contain:
Both Jokers, the Jack of spades, and the Jack of clubs.
In non-trump suits:
- A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 – Ranking from high to low
The non-trump suits rank cards from Ace down to 7. The suit that is the same color as trump does not contain its Jack, since that Jack moves to the trump suit.
So if spades are trump, the non-trump suits would rank:
- Hearts: A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7
- Diamonds: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7
- Clubs: A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7
Starting left of the dealer, players bid or pass clockwise.
Possible bids in ascending order:
- 5, 6, 7, 8 (number of tricks to promise to take) – Name the trump suit. Take the kitty, and discard 2 cards.
- Mulot (try to lose every trick without kitty) – No trumps, jokers are highest. Partner discards.
- Charlemagne (try to win every trick alone with kitty + partner’s 1 card) – Name the trump card and, lead the first trick.
- Gros Mulot (Mulot with exposed hand) – Spread hand after 1st trick.
- Gros Charlemagne (Charlemagne with exposed hand or partner card) – Take kitty OR partner’s 1 card, then discard 2 or 1 card(s).
The highest bid wins.
- The winner of the bid leads the first trick unless it is a Mulot or Charlemagne bid. In those cases, the bidder leads the first trick.
- Players must follow suit if able by playing a card of the led suit. If a player cannot follow suit, they may play any card in their hand.
- The highest-ranking trump card played wins the trick. The jokers are considered part of the trump suit. If no trump cards are played, the highest-ranking card of the led suit wins the trick instead.
- The winner of each trick leads the next trick by playing a card of their choice first.
- Tricks continue until all cards have been played.
|5, 6, 7, 8||Score bid amount||Opponents score bid amount|
|Mulot||Score 15||Opponents score 7|
|Charlemagne||Score 16||Opponents score 8|
|Gros Mulot||Score 30||Opponents score 15|
|Gros Charlemagne||Score 32||Opponents score 16|
A summary of the game rules can be found below:
- Partners sit opposite each other.
- Turn to deal rotates clockwise on each hand.
- Bids must be higher than the previous bid.
- Winner of the bid names trump suit.
- Follow suit if able.
- Jokers are the highest trumps.
- Win tricks with high trump or high card of the led suit.
Try to win both Jokers for a Mulot bid
The Jokers are critical for successfully losing every trick in a Mulot bid. Aim to get both Jokers in your hand before bidding Mulot. If you have one Joker, hope your partner has the other to throw it on your lead.
Only bid what you are confident your team can take
Overbidding and not making your bid gives points directly to your opponents. Bid conservatively based on the strength of your hand and your partner’s likely hand. Having strong trump cards or Aces in your hand can warrant a higher bid. With weak non-trump cards, bid on the lower side.
- Maine Variation – Play with 32 cards (no jokers or kitty). 9 of trumps is the highest. Allows asking the partner for a specific card with Charlemagne bid. The game is 21 points.
- Higher Score – Play to a score higher than 32 points, like 50.