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New idea for a Decktet trick taking game

Trick taking games with the Decktet (like Ace Trump) don't actually feel much like trick taking games to me. Since the number cards have two suits on them, you can't force people to play a particular suit by leading one. So you can't draw out cards of a specific suit.

Yesterday I had the idea of playing with just one of the two suits on each number card. This would make it possible to exploit a short or long suit.

Here is the idea: After looking at their hands, players bid. The high bidder gets to declare TOP or BOTTOM. If TOP, then number cards count as having their upper suit symbol for the duration of the hand. If BOTTOM, number cards have their lower suit symbol. (Aces and Crowns have only one symbol, and so aren't affected by the declaration.)

The highest bidder leads. Other players must follow the lead if they can. High card following suit wins. There is no trump.

The high bidder scores one for each trick taken (if he takes at least as many as he bid) or zero (if he doesn't make bid). Other players score one for each trick they take, regardless.

Because of the Decktet's structure, TOP and BOTTOM would change the suit distributions. TOP would make 10 moons, 7 suns, 7 waves, 5 leaves, 5 wyrms, and 2 knots. (All moons would count as moons, since the moon symbol is always on top when it appears. Only the Ace and Crown of knots would count as knots, since the knot suit symbol is always underneath when it appears.) The distribution for BOTTOM is a mirror image of that: 2 moons, 5 suns, 5 waves, 7 leaves, 7 wyrms, and 10 knots.

This would restore some of the standard trick taking strategies (drawing out cards, playing to your long suit, and so on) while still exploiting the special features of the Decktet.

As a side effect: This avoids the complication that I worried about in a previous post, in which two players follow suit with the same rank. It couldn't happen in this game.

Feedback is always welcome.


The version that we played at

The version that we played at Spielbany last weekend was very successful. For me, the game became most enjoyable when we added the rule that you only get a bonus for bidding if you hit your bid exactly. This created some interesting scenarios when I was holding 9's late in the hand and needed to variously win with them (which isn't a sure thing because they are trumped by the rooks) or dump them (which isn't always easy since they are higher than most of the other cards). I found this ambiguity made the hands really fun and suspenseful to play, which is how I imagine a trick taking game should feel. If every play is mindless, it isn't as exciting.

One thought I had; I wonder how the game would change if the pawn cards were added in? Presumably they would be the high card. This would make the bidding a bit more lively since now the top/bottom matters a great deal more: the rook of leaves, for example, is only the high card if "top" is chosen; otherwise, the "Harvest" pawn card is higher than the rook of leaves. Another benefit I could see to this is that it would be nice to have in the 4p game to have one more card in each player's hand, to smooth out the statistics just a bit more.

As I mentioned the other day, I liked the thought of possibly having some scoring that wasn't just related to how many tricks a player wins. Aces seem like an obvious place to look. Maybe whoever collects the most aces gets 1 point.

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gamejournal | by Dr. Radut