Sueca is a four-player trick-taking game that is very popular in Portugal, Brazil, Angola, and Mozambique. The game originated in Portugal as a variation of the Italian game Briscola. Briscola spread throughout Southern and Western Europe, where regional variations began to take over.
Even more granularly, Sueca games all have slightly different rules, each family’s ruleset passed down from generation to generation. Though countless home-rule variants exist, this guide seeks to provide information on the basic, generic rules one would find at the majority of Sueca tables.
How to Play Sueca?
Sueca, as it is based on Briscola, uses the 40-card Italian deck. An Italian deck can be easily formed, using a standard Anglo-American 52-card deck. Simply remove all twelve 8s, 9s, and 10s from the deck.
Players and Partnerships
Sueca is played with four players, arranged into two partnerships. These two partners should sit directly across from each other so that in the clockwise turn order of the game, the teams will alternate.
The cards in Sueca are ranked mostly according to the normal suits, except for the 7 and the Queen.
- The 7 is usually considered a special card, ranked higher than the King but below the Ace.
- The Queen is demoted and made a subordinate to the Jack.
So, the order is as follows:
Sueca’s deal involves particular rules to ensure there is no cheating.
- The Player to the right of the Dealer will shuffle the deck.
- The Player to the left of the Dealer will cut the deck, placing the slices back into a single deck in whatever order they wish.
This gives both Players of the other team the chance to handle the deck before the game begins.
Once the deck has been cheat-proofed, the Dealer will begin the deal.
- All 40 cards in the deck will be dealt, ten cards at a time to each Player.
- The Final card dealt to the Dealer is dealt face-up, instead of face-down. This card is still a part of the Dealer’s hand, it is simply made public to determine the Trump suit of the round.
Once the Deal is completed, gameplay begins.
Sueca is a normal trick-taking game, following the rules one would expect.
- The Player to the right of the Dealer earns the right to lead the first trick.
- Following that Player, the winner of the previous trick will lead the next.
- Teams will alternate, with turns moving clockwise following the Leading player in each trick.
Tricks are won by playing the highest-ranking card in the trick. Players must follow suit if they are able to do so, unless they wish to Play a Trump card. Trump cards will beat all non-Trumps, and will only lose to a Trump of a higher rank.
Tricks are played until all ten have been Played, and the Player’s hands are depleted of cards.
Teams combine their scores, and teams that have at least 60 card points receive a “Game-Point”.
Sueca is played with Matchplay, where multiple rounds are needed to win a single “Match”. In order to win the full Match, players must achieve 4 Game-Points.
Scoring and Points
Players in Sueca combine their scores with their teammate, in order to calculate their total score.
- In order to win a game point for your team, you and your partner must combine a card-point total of 60.
- If both teams achieve 60 points exactly, both teams will score a game point.
There are 120 possible points to be won in a given round.
Cards are scored according to the following values. Each Copy of the card possessed by the team will give the appropriate score:
|6s, 5s, 4s, 3s, 2s||0 Points|
The team that achieves at least 60 points in 4 games, before the other team, will win the game.
If there is a tie in the final round, such that both teams have 4 game points at the same time, another round of gameplay will commence as a tie-breaker.
Traditionally, the game score is kept on paper like below. Each dot represents one game point.
Below the game rules are summarized.
- Players must play one card during each trick, passing is not allowed. Players must follow suit, if they are able, unless they wish to play a Trump card.
- The highest ranking card, which follows suit, will win the trick if no Trumps are played.
- Players play in teams of two, and as such Sueca must be played by four people. Teammates should sit opposite of one another, such that the play order always alternates between the two teams.
- The first team to achieve four game points wins the match.
Suppose that your partner has already led the trick, with:
♣ are the Trump suit. Suppose your partner is Player 1, and went first. Player 2, your opponent, plays:
Player 2 was able to follow suit, but could not beat your partner.
You have 3♦, or 8♣ in your hand. Player 2 has already been unable to beat your Partner, and although you could play your Trump card to likely secure the trick, only face cards are worth any card points. Winning this trick would be pointless, as your partner may have already won it, and even if it is won, you will win no card points and therefore are not moving towards your objective. Do not waste your Trump, just follow suit instead.
Strategy and Tips
As demonstrated above, you must consider the value of the Trick you wish to take. If you play a high-ranking Trump into a trick of only numbered cards, the only card points you receive will come from the Trump, if at all. As such, only use high-value Trumps for high-value tricks.
Do not take a Trick that your partner has already basically secured. The small chance of losing that trick is not worth the potential additional trick you could win.
For example, if your Partner has played a King of Trump, there is no reason to play a 7 of Trump into the same trick. Instead, save your 7 for a different trick.