The game is sometimes also referred to as Honeymoon Whist and uses the standard card rankings where Aces are high.
To play German Whist you need:
- 2 players
- A standard 52-card deck
- A table or another flat surface
- A way to keep score
German Whist is played over multiple hands. The goal is to win the most hands according to the scoring rules.
The players determine who will deal first, often by drawing cards with the high card dealing first. The deal alternates between the two players during each hand.
- The dealer shuffles and allows the opponent to cut the deck.
- The dealer then deals 13 cards face down to each player one at a time.
- The remaining cards are placed face down in a stack in the center as the stock pile.
- The dealer turns over the top card of the stock pile. The suit of this card designates the trump suit for the entire hand to follow.
Gameplay is divided into two phases:
The non-dealer leads the first trick. Standard trick-taking rules apply – you must follow suit if able, otherwise, you may play any card. The highest trump wins the trick, otherwise, the highest card of the led suit wins.
The winner of the trick takes the top face-up card from the stock pile into their hand. The loser takes the next stock card face-down without showing it. The next stock card is turned face-up and the winner leads the next trick.
This phase continues for the first 13 tricks until the stock is empty.
Once the stock is empty, the players collect and keep tricks won face-down in front of them. The goal now is to win the majority of the final 13 tricks. The winner of the last stock card leads the next trick.
Play continues until all cards are played. The player who wins the majority of the final 13 tricks wins the hand.
The player winning the majority of the final 13 tricks scores 1 point. If the tricks are split evenly, it is a draw and no points are awarded.
Often the first player to 5 points wins the overall game.
Player 1 deals 13 cards to Player 2 and themself. The remaining cards are placed in the face-down stock pile. Player 1 turns over the top stock card – the 7♠, establishing Spades as the trump suit.
- Player 2 leads the 4♥.
- Player 1 plays the 2♥.
Player 2 wins the trick with the higher Heart played.
Player 2 takes the face-up 7♠ into their hand. Player 1 draws the next face-down stock card and turns over the new top stock card – J♣.
- Player 2 leads the 5♦
- Player 1 plays the 10♦
Player 1 wins the trick and takes the J♣ from the stock.
- Player 1 leads the 3♠.
- Player 2 plays the 9♥.
Player 1 wins the trick and stock card with the Queen of Spades.
Since Hearts was not the led suit, Player 2 could legally play a Heart here. But since Spades are trump in this hand, Player 1’s 3♠ trump beats the 9♥.
The game progresses in this manner through the first phase until the stock is depleted.
In the end, the players have collected their tricks won for the first phase. Let’s assume Player 1 won 7 tricks and Player 2 won 6.
Play moves on the the final phase.
- Player 2 leads the K♥ to the first final trick.
- Player 1 plays the 2♥.
Player 2 wins and now has 7 tricks.
- Player 1 then leads the A♦.
- Player 2 plays their last diamond.
Player 1 wins the trick, now also having 8 tricks.
The game continues until all cards are played.
Let’s assume that in the end:
- Player 1 won 9 of the final 13 tricks.
- Player 2 won 4 of them.
This means that Player 1 scores a point for the hand.
The players continue playing hands until one reaches 5 points and wins the overall game.
German Whist Rules Summary
In short, the main rules of the game can be summarized as follows:
- A Standard 52-card deck is used
- Trump suit designated by initial face-up stock card
- 13 cards are dealt to each player
- Players must follow suit if able
- The highest trump wins the trick, otherwise the highest card of the led suit
- Score based on the majority of the final 13 tricks
Although German Whist has a lot of luck-based elements, strategic play is definitely possible.
Build Your Hand in the First Phase
The first phase is all about collecting cards to strengthen your hand for the final tricks. Focus on winning high-value stock cards, not low ones.
Before trying to win a trick, consider if the stock card is better than what’s likely underneath. Use the first phase wisely to prepare your hand!
Assess Your Opponent’s Hand
By the final 13 tricks, you can deduce your opponent’s entire hand. Analyze their likely holdings in each suit. Identify any weaknesses like voids or shortages. Use this knowledge to formulate a winning strategy. Target any weaknesses in their hand that you uncover. Careful assessment can give you a strategic advantage.
Manage Trumps Thoughtfully
Trumps are very powerful, so use them wisely! Save your trumps until really needed in the final stage of the game. Also, try to keep count of the remaining trumps.
Balance timely trump plays – not too much or too little. Careful trump management can be a game-changer during the final tricks.
You can practice online at Coppercod.Games