Sunday, 4 September 2016

Three play for themselves to win the most card points. This should be one of your two entry points into tarot gaming but, while simple to learn, it should not be dismissed as an excellent and challenging game in its own right.

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

Card Points are:

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 three hands.

Deal: First Dealer is chosen at random or by consent with the role moving to the player on the 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 the cards in packets of five, taking the remaining three cards into his/her own hand. Dealer must then discard three cards that may not include Kings or Honours – though the Fool may be discarded if no trumps are held. These discarded cards count towards Dealer’s tricks once the hand has been played.

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.

Scores: Players then count their card points singly and then add a bonus of 1 card point for each trick they have won (The Dealer’s extra three cards do not count as a trick), so the total number of card points in the game is 130+25=155. Players win or lose 1 game point for every card point they win over or below 52.

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