Saturday, 3 September 2016

As Scarto, this should be one of your entry points into tarot gaming and should also not be underestimated. Four play in fixed partnerships with their partners seated opposite each other with the goal of winning the most card points.

Strictly speaking, Tarocchi is the general name for Tarot games in Italy but as all the others I’m listing have their own names and ‘Tarocchi for four as played in Piedmont’ is a bit long-winded, we’ll grant it the name. It is well deserved though, as this is a classic game and along with Scarto it is the basis for some of our original games listed afterwards.

Pack: A tarot pack of 78 cards is used consisting of four regular suits of 14 cards, a suit of 21 trumps, and The Fool.

Card Points:
Honours 5 points
Kings 5 points
Queens 4 points
Cavaliers 3 points
Valets 2 points
All Others 1 point

Ranking: Rational ranking is used...

Pip cards rank in suit from high to low:
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace

Trumps rank by their number, 21 high, 1 low.

Empty Cards: These are cards that have values of 1 point or less.

Honours: The Juggler, The World, and The Fool are called The Honours. They are always among the highest scoring cards.

A game consists of four hands.

Deal: First Dealer is chosen at random or by consent with the role moving to the player on Dealer’s left after each hand.
First Dealer shuffles the cards but for subsequent hands they are instead cut by Youngest (Dealer’s Right) – this is done by setting the pack face down and then lifting off three or four piles that are then re-stacked in a different order. On any deal any player may call for the cards to be re-shuffled.
Dealer hands out 19 cards to each player in a single packet, taking the last two cards. Dealer must then discard two cards that may not include Kings or Honours, these cards will count towards his/her sides’ tricks at the end of the hand (if playing a game of Allegiances, then Aces may not be discarded either).
Play: Eldest (Dealer’s Left) leads to the first trick by placing a card face up on the table. Each player in turn, moving to the left, must play a card from their hand of the suit led – this is called following suit. If they do not have any cards of the suit led, it is called being void in that suit and they must play a trump card instead. However, if they have no trumps, they may then play any other card, though it will not win. Whoever plays the highest trump to the trick wins it, or if trumps are not played, then whoever played the highest card of the suit led wins it. The winner takes the cards and places them face down in their trick pile to be counted at the end.
The player that wins the trick then leads to the next one and play continues until the hand has been played out.
If The Fool is held, then it may be played at any time instead of a card that the rules might otherwise require and although it will not win, it is seldom lost. When played, The Fool is returned to to its player who then places it face up beside them until the end of the hand when they must pay the player who won the trick with a card from their trick pile (obviously, they will choose an empty card if they can). However, if they have taken no tricks, then they must surrender The Fool instead.
A Game of Allegiances: This is an original and optional set of rules – if it is to be played at all, it must be agreed by all the players. There is scope for it to be used strategically but some may find the outcome a little too random.
Ace of Allegiance: When an Ace is played to a trick there is an opportunity to play under allegiances. The four suits are comprised of two Round suits (Cups and Coins) and two long suits (Swords and Batons), and each Ace is treated has having a corresponding card accordingly. So the Ace of Cups corresponds with the Ace of Coins, and the Ace of Swords corresponds with the Ace of Batons. When an Ace is played to a trick, then if whoever played it holds its corresponding Ace, they may show it to the other players and make a Call of Allegiance. 
The Call is either “ours” or “yours”. If the call is “ours”, then the player and their partner will only score points in their tricks for those corresponding suits, while their opponents will only score points in their tricks for suits of the opposite correspondence. So, if on playing the Ace of Cups to a trick, the player then shows the Ace of Coins and calls “ours”, then that player and partner will now only score points in their tricks for cards of either Cups and Coins, while their opponents will only score of taking Swords or Batons in theirs. 
When an Ace has been played but the partner holds the corresponding Ace, then partner may show it and make The Call. 
Switching Allegiance: When allegiances have been set, they may be changed under the same scheme by either team. When this happens, each team starts a new trick pile. Cards of the first pile are scored according to the first called allegiance, while those of the second pile score according to the new one.
Scores: When the hand has been played, players count their team’s card points individually and then add 1 bonus card point for each trick (Cards of the discard to not count as a trick). There are therefore 149 card points to be won in the standard game. Whichever side wins 75 points or more wins the difference in game points from the opponents.

For a game of Allegiance, the maximum number of points that can be won by a team will vary. Players total their card points according to the changing allegiances and the number of tricks won. Whichever side wins the most points wins the difference between the two scores from their opponents.

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