Thanksgiving is this Thursday! Lots of folks are excitedly preparing for a Thanksgiving feast with their family, but in the back of their minds, they’re thinking, “what else are we going to do?” After the turkey is picked clean and all the pumpkin pie is gone, your family is still all together, and you’re searching for a way to keep everyone together and engaged to stave off that food coma. It’s a perfect time for a game of cards!
Not sure what you want to play this year? Try these games. They’re the five most popular games on our website over the last year:
- Cash (aka Kemps): Not only do you have to be first to get four of a kind, you have to send a secret signal to your partner telling them, too. When you get the hang of it, check out our companion guide to Cash signals to help throw your opponents off.
- Pitty Pat: A simple game of discarding your hand as quickly as possible by matching cards with the with the top card of the discard pile.
- Jack Change It: Like Crazy Eights, but need to kick it up a notch? Jack Change It has you covered by adding special powers to certain cards.
- Mexican Sweat: This poker variant will leave your players sweating as they slowly reveal their hands—to the rest of the table and themselves!
- Crash (13-Card Brag): A more laid-back, social variant of Brag that does away with the betting in favor of a point-scoring system. Players get 13 cards and divide them into four three-card Brag hands.
But of course, that’s just scratching the surface—there are over 230 games on our website. Whatever you decide to play this Thanksgiving, have fun and good luck!
Kontsina (also sometimes known as Koltsina or Kolitsina) is a straightforward fishing game for two to four players. Much like in Cassino, players try to capture cards laid out on the table. This can be done through matching cards in rank, or by adding the values of the target cards together to equal the rank of a card in your hand.
Like Xeri, Kontsina originates in Greece. There, the game is often learned and enjoyed by children. A more complex Greek game, Diloti, is similar to a merge between Kontsina and Xeri, allowing more latitude for strategy.
Object of Kontsina
The object of Kontsina is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured with a card matching them in rank, or by using one card from the hand to capture a combination of cards that add up to its rank.
To play Kontsina, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Of course, to make your Kontsina game the place to be, you’ll want to play using a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also want something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.
Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. Then, deal four cards face up on the table. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. On their turn, a player may play a single card from their hand. If the card doesn’t match any of the other cards on the table, it is called laying the card. A card that is laid simply remains on the table. However, if possible, a player will normally try to match another card on the table, as doing so allows them to capture the card.
The simplest way to capture a card is to merely match it by rank. For example, a jack can capture another jack, a 4 can capture another 4, and so on. Note that if there are multiple cards on the table of the same rank, a player can only capture one of them through matching.
Another way a player may capture a card is by playing a card that two or more cards on the table add up to in pip value. For example, a 9 could be used to capture a 5 and a 4, or a 6 and a 3, or a 2, 3, and 4, and so on. Aces are considered to have a value of one. Face cards do not have a value in this way and can only be captured by matching by rank.
When a player captures a card, the cards so captured, as well as the card used to capture them, are placed face-down in a pile in front of the player. This pile is kept separate from the player’s hand, and no player may look through it until the hand is over.
After playing one card, whether it captures anything or not, the player’s turn ends. The turn then passes to the left.
Replenishing the hands
When each player has played four times, everyone will be out of cards. The dealer then deals four new cards to each player from the stock, and the game continues.
Ending the hand
The hand ends when all of the players are out of cards and there are none remaining in the stock. Any remaining cards on the table are taken by the last player to capture any cards. Each player then looks through their captured-cards pile, and scores points as follows:
- Two points for capturing the most cards. If two or more players tie for capturing the most cards, these two points are not scored by anyone.
- One point for capturing the most clubs.
- One point for capturing the 2♣. (Note that the 2♣ still counts as a club for the purpose of capturing the most clubs.)
- One point for capturing the 10♦.
The deal then passes to the left, and a new hand is played. Game play continues until at least one player reaches a predetermined score, for example, 21 points. Whichever player has the highest score at that point is the winner. If there is a tie, additional tiebreaker hands are played until a winner is determined.
Trash is a simple card game for two or more players. In Trash, players compete to fill in a ten-card layout first. The cards you get to place are the luck of the draw, however, pretty much making any form of strategy impossible. It is an excellent game for children, though, and can be used as a teaching tool for kids still learning their numbers.
Object of Trash
The object of Trash is to be the first player to fill in a layout of ten cards with one card of each rank from ace to 10.
To play Trash, you’ll need a one standard 52-card deck of playing cards for every two players besides yourself. That is, for two players, you’ll need one deck, for three or four players, you’ll need two decks, for five or six you need three decks, and so on. Shuffle all the decks together. It doesn’t matter if the back designs don’t all match. As always, using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will make your game night better.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They begin their turn by drawing one card from the stock. If the card drawn is an ace through 10, they place it in the appropriate spot on their layout, as shown by the image above. Jacks are wild and may be placed anywhere in the layout. The player then flips over the face-down card previously occupying that space. They then place that card, and so on. A player’s turn ends whenever they expose either a card they cannot place on the layout, a queen, or a king. When this happens, they discard it and their turn ends. Discards are placed face up next to the stock, forming a discard pile.
The turn then passes to the next player. If the previous player’s discard fits into their layout, they draw it and begin their turn by playing it to their layout. Otherwise, they begin the turn by drawing a card from the stock.
If, at any point, a player draws a natural card that would fit in their layout in a spot currently occupied by a jack, they may place the natural card. The jack is then free to be played to any other space in the layout.
Should the stock be depleted before a hand ends, set aside the top card of the discard pile. Shuffle the rest of the cards, and turn them face down to form a new stock. The old top card remains as the first card in the new discard pile.
Game play continues until a player has filled in all ten spots of their layout. That player is the winner of the hand.
After the first hand, the cards are collected, and the deal passes to the left. The new dealer deals the winner of the previous hand a layout of only nine cards, leaving the previous 10 spot blank. To win a second hand, the player must only fill in the spots corresponding to ace through 9. However, this means that exposing a 10 will end their turn, the same as kings and queens. When this player wins a second hand, they are dealt an eight-card layout, corresponding to aces through 8s, and so on.
A player wins the entire game by being the first player to fill in a one-card layout with either an ace or a jack.
Forty Thieves, also known as Napoleon at St. Helena, is a two-deck solitaire game. Because so much of the game depends on the order the cards are dealt to the tableau, winning the game is very much dependent on luck, rather than skill.
A legend, likely untrue, says that the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte played solitaire to pass the time when exiled to the island of St. Helena. This game is supposedly the version he preferred.
Object of Forty Thieves (Napoleon at St. Helena)
To play Forty Thieves, shuffle together two decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. (It doesn’t matter whether the back designs differ, so using one of our two-deck sets works well.) Deal ten face-up columns of four cards each. These 40 face-up cards form the tableau. The spaces above the first eight tableau columns are reserved the foundations. The 64 cards in the deck stub then become the stock.
As aces are revealed, move them to the foundations. Each foundation may be built up with further cards of the same suit, in ascending rank. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low. (For example, a foundation starting with the A♠ would have the 2♠ played next upon it, then the 3♠, and so on.)
In the tableau, only the top card of each column (i.e. the card with no other cards overlapping it) may be moved. Multiple cards cannot be moved as a unit. Cards from the tableau may either be moved to the foundations or onto another card in the tableau of the same suit but one rank higher. When empty spaces occur in the tableau, they may be filled by any card.
Cards can be drawn from the stock, one at a time, and moved either to the tableau or the foundations. If a card from the stock cannot be used, it is placed next to the stock in a discard pile. When the stock is exhausted, the discard pile may be turned over to refresh the stock.
The game ends whenever all 104 cards are moved to the foundations (a win) or no further moves are possible (a loss).
Xeri is a simple fishing game for two players. In Xeri, players alternately discard single cards to a pile in the middle of the table. When someone plays a card that matches the rank of the top card of the discard pile, they get to claim all the cards in the pile!
Xeri originates from Greece, and xeri is a Greek word meaning “dry” or “plain”. This comes from the bonus scored when capturing a single-card pile. The notion of collecting bonuses for capturing cards one at a time is also found in the more complex and strategic Greek game Diloti.
Object of Xeri
The object of Xeri is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured by matching cards from the hand to the top card of the discard pile.
To play Xeri, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. As a discerning host that wants to provide the best to their players, you’ll of course want to play with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper or a smartphone app.
Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Then, deal four cards, face up, to form a discard pile. Take a look at these cards to see if the top card of the pile is a jack, or if the card on top of the pile and the card below it are the same rank. If either of these are true, shuffle the discard pile back into the deck and deal a new four-card discard pile. After the discard pile has been formed, place the stub next to it, forming the stock.
The non-dealer goes first. They may play any card they wish to the discard pile. The turn then passes to the dealer, who also discards a card, and so on.
If a player plays a card of the same rank as the card currently showing on top of the discard pile, they capture the pile. They take the whole pile and place it face down in front of them, forming a won-cards pile. Their opponent then discards a card, starting a new discard pile.
Jacks are essentially wild. When played, they capture the pile as if they matched the top card, whatever its rank is.
Once cards are captured and placed in the won-cards pile, neither player can look through them to see what has and hasn’t been played yet.
After a player captures cards, their opponent starts a new discard pile with a single card. The capturing player is then faced with a discard pile with only one card in it. If they capture this card with a card of the same rank, they are said to have captured that card xeri (an adjective meaning “plain” or “dry”). Capturing xeri scores more points than cards captured otherwise. To signify this, the card captured xeri is turned face up and placed at right angles to the rest of the pile.
If a single card is captured by a jack, it does not count as a xeri capture unless the single card in the pile was also a jack.
Replenishing the hands
After six turns, both players’ hands will have been depleted. The dealer then deals each player a fresh hand of six cards from the stock. Play continues as before.
When the stock is depleted, the hand is played out until all the cards have been played. This ends the hand. The last player to capture cards takes any cards remaining in the discard pile and adds them to their won cards.
At the end of the hand, each player calculates their score for the hand as follows:
- 10 points for each xeri (note that the xeri cards also count as captured cards, and so should be included when considering the scoring options below)
- 3 points for capturing more cards than the opponent
- 1 point for each ace, king, queen, jack or 10
- 1 point for capturing the 10♦ (note that the 10♦ also counts as a 10, so capturing it is worth two points altogether)
- 1 point for capturing the 2♣
Whichever player scores the most points wins the hand. The deal passes to the other player, and the next hand is played. Whoever won more hands at the end of a predetermined number of hands wins the overall game.
Russian Bank, sometimes known in France, Brazil, and Portugal as Crapette, is a card game for two players. In Russian Bank, players take turns moving cards around a shared layout between the two players. Their hope is to eventually move all of the cards from their deck out onto the layout, and be left with nothing. Because the rules of where cards can and can’t be played are so similar to those found in solitaire games, it’s entirely accurate to say Russian Bank is really a form of competitive solitaire!
Object of Russian Bank
The object of Russian Bank is to be the first player to get rid of all of their cards. This is done by playing cards to the foundations, the tableau, and their opponent’s stock and reserve piles.
To play Russian Bank, you’ll need two standard 52-card decks of playing cards. Although it’s not strictly required, it’s quite helpful for the two decks to have different back designs, to allow them to be easily separated after each hand. (The back designs have no effect on game play.) Fortunately, any two-deck set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will meet these criteria. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.
Each player takes one of the decks and shuffles it. Deal twelve cards into a face-down pile to your right, then deal a thirteen card to it, face up. This pile constitutes the reserve, also known as the talon. Then, deal a column of four cards, face up, starting just above the reserve and extending toward your opponent. This line, and the line being dealt by your opponent, make up the tableau. The players should space their tableau lines at least two card-widths apart. The space between the tableau columns will be used for the eight foundation piles.
The remainder of each deck becomes the stock, and is placed to your left. The space between the stock and the reserve will be used for the discard pile. (See the image at the top-right for an illustration of the full layout.)
Whichever player has the lower card on top of their reserve goes first. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low.
As in most solitaire games, not every card that belongs to a player is available for play. At first, only the top card of your own reserve pile and the top card of each of the tableau piles are considered available. When the top card of the reserve is played elsewhere, turn over the next card; this newly-exposed card also becomes available. Additional cards become available later in the turn, once any priority moves are completed.
Cards in the foundation piles are never available for play; once a card is moved to a foundation it will remain there for the rest of the hand. Cards in the discard pile are also unavailable, though these may become available again when the stock is exhausted.
At the start of a player’s turn, they are required to perform a number of priority moves, if possible. If, later on in the turn, a priority move becomes possible through the movement of cards, the player must complete the priority move before doing anything else.
First, a player must move any available cards to the foundations that they can, starting with the top card of the reserve, followed by any cards from the tableau. Aces must be moved to an empty foundation space when they become available. Foundation piles are then built up by suit, in ascending order. When a foundation pile reaches the king, no more cards may be added to it; further cards of that suit must be played to the other foundation of that suit.
After a player has moved any cards to the foundations that they can, they must then fill any empty spaces in the tableau with cards from their reserve, if it has not been depleted. During the process, if they reveal any cards that can be moved to the foundations, they must do that first before filling any more tableau spaces.
After a player has resolved all possible priority moves, they are then free to make any moves they wish. A player may build upon any of the tableau piles, in descending rank order and alternating colors, as in Klondike. Cards can also be moved between tableau piles, if desired; however, only the top card of each pile may be moved. Batches of properly-sequenced cards may not be moved as a unit, as is allowed in most other solitaire games.
A player is also allowed to play any available card to their opponent’s stock and reserve, which is called loading it. To do this, the being loaded must be of the same suit and either one rank above or one rank below that of the card it is being played atop.
So long as there are no priority moves that must be made, a player may turn up the top card of their stock. This card becomes an available card, which is subject to the usual priority move rules. It may otherwise be played to the tableau or the opponent’s stock or reserve, if possible. Any stock card so played is then replaced with another card from the stock. This continues until a player is unable or unwilling to play a card from their stock. They then discard it to their discard pile, ending their turn.
If a player depletes their stock, but still has cards in the discard pile, when they need to draw a card from the stock, they turn the entire discard pile face down. This forms a new stock they can draw from, as usual.
Players should watch their opponent carefully during their turn. If a player notices their opponent break any of the rules of play, they may call out “Stop!” A player can call “Stop!” if their opponent fails to complete any priority rules, or if they perform the priority moves in the wrong order (first reserve cards to the foundations, then tableau cards to the foundations, and filling empty tableau spaces from the reserve last). A player can also call “Stop!” should the opponent attempt to build incorrectly on the tableau, or otherwise play a card somewhere it doesn’t belong.
If a player was caught trying to place a card in a location it’s not allowed to be played (such as illegal play on the tableau), that move is reversed. When a player is called out for failure to properly perform priority moves, the priority moves must be carried out as required. In both cases, the player’s turn immediately ends, and it becomes their opponent’s turn.
End of the hand
The hand ends when either a player successfully depletes their stock, discard pile, and reserve, leaving them with no cards on their side of the table, or when a stalemate is reached where nobody has any legally-playable cards in their stock, discard pile, or reserve. Each player counts up the number of cards in their stock and discard, which are worth one point a piece, and the number of cards in their reserve, valued at two points each. Whichever player has the lower score wins the hand and scores the difference between the two players’ counts. A player ending the hand with no cards at all also scores a 30-point bonus.
The cards are then turned face-down and separated back into 52-card decks, which are shuffled for the next hand. Game play continues until one player reaches a predetermined score, such as 300 points. That player is the winner.
Dingo is a strategic card game for four players. In this game, being the last player to play a black card of a given rank gets you points, but being the second-to-last gives your opponent points. So what’s a player to do? A good Dingo player has to keep track of the location of as many cards as possible! That, plus a healthy amount of plain intuition, lets a player determine when they should play and when they might be better off passing.
Dingo doesn’t appear to be very closely related to any other card game we’ve seen. That means someone probably just invented it from scratch. Who that might be, though, we don’t know. We do know that it’s played most frequently in Cleveland, Ohio, so that’s most likely where it started out.
Object of Dingo
The object of Dingo is to score the most points possible. This is primarily done by being the last player to play a black card of a particular rank.
A game of Dingo requires a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. You can easily give your game a real upgrade by playing with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.
Remove all of the diamonds from the deck, except for the A♦. Arrange the diamonds in ascending rank order and place them in a pile, face up, in the middle of the table, with the 2♦ showing. These diamonds are called rabbits. Shuffle the remaining 40 cards and deal them out evenly. Each player will have ten cards.
Discards and exchanges
Starting with the dealer, each player discards one card other than an ace from their hand, face up, to a discard pile visible to each of the players. Aces may never be discarded. Players should take care to keep the discard pile squared up, so that only the most recent card played to it is visible.
After everyone has discarded, the dealer chooses one card from their hand and passes it to their left. That player looks at the card passed to them, and likewise passes a card from their hand to the left. This continues until all four players have passed. Each player, again starting with the dealer, then discards a card, as before.
The dealer then leads the next round of passing, this time passing a card to the player directly across from them. The player to the dealer’s left does likewise. Then the turn continues to the left, with the player across from the dealer passing a card back to the dealer. Finally, the player to the dealer’s right passes a card back across to the player on the dealer’s left. Each player in turn, again starting with the dealer, discards a third card.
The final round of passing begins with the dealer, as you might expect, passing a card to their right. The turn still follows the usual clockwise order, though, meaning that the only player who gets to see the card they’ve gotten before choosing to pass a card of their own will be the player to the dealer’s right. Once this is done, there is a fourth and final round of discards. Each player will have discarded four of their initial ten cards, leaving them with their final six-card hands.
Hunting the rabbits
With the players having established their hands, the hunts now begin. The dealer calls out the rank of the card showing on the rabbit pile (for the first hunt of the game, this will be the 2). Whichever player holds the heart of that rank, called the dingo, must immediately play it. If nobody holds the dingo, meaning it was discarded, the hunt ends with nobody scoring, and the rabbit is discarded.
If someone does play the dingo, each player after them in turn may play one of the black cards of that rank, known as the wolves. Unlike the dingo, a player holding a wolf is not compelled to play it; they may simply pass. Wolves can only be played by players other than the dingo player.
When the dingo and only one wolf is played, the wolf catches the rabbit—the person playing the wolf places it and the rabbit in a score pile in front of them. The dingo player also places the dingo in their score pile. If both wolves are played, the second wolf played catches the rabbit. The dingo player places both the dingo and the first wolf in their score pile.
If all three players pass, with no wolves being played, the rabbit is discarded. The dingo then counts against the player who played it. They place the dingo in a penalty pile placed at right angles to their own score pile.
After each hunt is completed, the hunt for the next-higher rank begins. This continues for each rank from 2 all the way up to king.
Hunting the A♦
After the players complete the king hunt, they hunt the ace. Because all of the aces, including the A♦ (the rabbit), are in the players’ hands, this hunt goes a little differently. First, the dingo is played, as usual. Each player in turn then may play one or both wolves (playing wolves is still optional). If both wolves have been played by the time whoever holds the rabbit takes their turn, they may play it then. (If a player holds wolves and the rabbit, they must play the wolves first. They can then immediately play the rabbit afterward.) After the other three players have taken their turn, the dingo player gets a turn to play wolves or the rabbit, if they have them. The hunt then ends.
If the dingo was the only card played and everyone else passed, the dingo is added to that player’s penalty pile, as usual. If any wolves were played, those that played them add them to their own score pile. The dingo player scores for the dingo. The player holding the rabbit adds it to their score pile if they were able to play it; otherwise, they reveal it to the other players and put it in their penalty pile.
After the ace hunt is complete, the players expose their remaining cards. Players should not have any red cards remaining in their hand; playing these cards at some point in the hand is compulsory. Any players who are found to hold any red cards forfeit the game.
Each player tallies up the value of their score piles. The A♦ is worth ten points, all other aces three points each, face cards and 10s two points each, and 9s and lower one point each. The players then compute the value of their penalty piles the same way, although the A♦ is worth only three points in the penalty pile. Finally, by subtracting the value of the penalty pile from that of the score pile, the players arrive at their scores for the game.
Whichever player has the highest score wins the game. In the event of a tie, the player holding the highest rabbit in their score pile (not their penalty pile) wins.
California Speed is a fast-paced game for two players. Much like regular Speed, in California Speed each player controls half of the deck, quickly playing cards from their hand to a tableau shared between the two players. To win a game of California Speed, a player has to be able to quickly read the board in front of them and react before their opponent does.
Object of California Speed
The object of California Speed is to be the first to play all of their cards to the tableau.
To play a game of California Speed, you’ll need a standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Because this is a game that involves a lot of quick movements, with cards flying everywhere, you need a deck of cards that can stand up to the abuse. You don’t want cards that will chip or bend. You’ll want a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.
Shuffle and deal 26 cards, face down, to each player. Players may not look at their cards. Instead, they should keep them in a squared-up pack, face down in their hand.
On a count of three, each player deals four cards face-up in a row in front of them, aligning them so that they form a box. This box forms the tableau.
As soon as the tableau is dealt, each player begins looking for cards of the same rank. If players find a match, be it a pair, three- or four-of-a-kind, they immediately deal more cards from their hand to cover up the matched cards. There are no turns; players act simultaneously. Should both players notice a match and begin covering cards at the same time, it is perfectly fine to leave the match partially covered by one player and the rest by the other.
If no further plays are available because the tableau displays eight cards of different ranks, each player picks up the four stacks of cards on their side of the table, turns them face down, and puts them under the stack of cards in their hand. Each player then deals four cards from their hand to form a new tableau, as at the beginning of the game.
Game play continues until one player plays all of the cards from their hand to the tableau. That player is the winner.
Envite is a trick-taking game for four to as many as twelve players in teams. Although it includes a round of bidding, the result of this doesn’t affect the trump suit—it merely sets the stakes for the hand. Each team has a captain that is solely responsible for speaking for their teammates. To communicate with the captain, the players must send secret signals, and hope their opponents don’t catch on!
Envite plays like a more elaborate version of the mainland Spanish game of Truc, blending in the practice of secret signals found in Mus. Envite was created in Spain’s Canary Islands. It is still widely played there, with tournaments common during local holidays.
Object of Envite
The object of Envite is to successfully capture two of the three tricks on each hand, thus scoring points (stones). When a team reaches twelve or more points, they win the game. Traditionally, a match of three games is played, with the team winning two out of three winning the match.
Envite is normally played with a Spanish 40-card deck. If all you’ve got on hand is a standard English-style 52-card deck, like a pack of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you can make an equivalent deck pretty easily. Just remove all the 8s, 9s, and 10s. What’s left over will be a 40-card deck made up of face cards and 2s through 7s in each of the four suits.
You’ll also need something to keep score with. Players in the Canary Islands typically use a “hard score” method. If you wish to do so too, you’ll need 22 chips, stones, or tokens of some kind. You can also use pencil and paper if that works better for you.
Divide up into two teams through whatever means is convenient, like random-card draw or mutual agreement. Each team should also designate a captain that will speak for the team in matters of bidding. (This can also be done randomly, if needed to avoid arguments!) Players should be seated so that as the turn proceeds around the table, players of alternating teams take their turn.
If playing with an odd number of players, one team’s captain will control a “dummy” hand. Establish this spot the same as if a real player were sitting there. It will receive a hand and play in turn just like any other player.
Evite is normally played with a series of signals that players can use to indicate to their captain what is in their hand. The signals used are the same for both teams. A key Evite skill is learning how to pass the signals to the captain without the opponents noticing. Which signals are allowed and what they mean should be agreed upon before the game starts.
Shuffle and deal three cards to each player. After the hands have been dealt, turn up the next card of the deck and place it in the middle of the table. The suit of this card will become the trump suit for the ensuing hand. The remainder of the stub takes no part in play.
In Envite, the trump suit is enlarged as more players are added to the game:
- Four players (two per side): (high) 2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
- Five or six players (three per side): (high) 3♣-Q♣-J♦-2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
- Seven or eight players (four per side): (high) 5♦-3♣-Q♣-J♦-2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
- Nine or ten players (five per side): (high) 2♦-5♦-3♣-Q♣-J♦-2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
- Eleven or twelve players (six per side): (high) A♦-2♦-5♦-3♣-Q♣-J♦-2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
In non-trump suits, the cards rank in more or less their usual order, with the ace inserted between the jack and the 7, for a full ranking of (high) K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3-2 (low). Note that if you’re playing with more than four players, the cards that are added to the trump suit do not count as belonging to the suit printed on the card. They are part of whichever suit the trump is for that hand.
The bidding process in Envite is more like a negotiation between the two captains. While it’s going on, the players on each team are furtively signaling their captain as to what they hold, hoping to feed them information that can help them decide how strong their team’s position is.
By default, winning a hand is worth two stones (points). If neither captain acts, the hand simply proceeds at this stake. However, either captain may challenge the other to increase the stake to four stones. If the challenged captain declines, then the challenging team automatically wins the hand at a value of two stones. The captain may also accept playing the hand for four stones, or may raise the stakes further to seven stones.
If the stake is raised to seven stones, the other captain may then, as before, forfeit the hand (with the other team scoring four stones), agree to play at a stake of seven stones, or raise further to nine. The next raise after this is a raise to make the ensuing hand determine the winner of the whole game.
Play of the hand
Game play begins with the player to the dealer’s right, who leads a card to the first trick. Each player in turn, continuing to the right, must play a card of the same suit, if able. If they cannot, they may play any card, including a trump. The highest card of the suit led, or the highest trump if any were played, wins the trick. The player that won the trick then leads to the next one.
Leading with a trump is called trawling. When a player trawls, all players must play a trump if they are able. If any player doesn’t have a trump to play, their team immediately loses the hand. Their opponents score the value of the hand as determined in the bidding, plus a two-stone bonus.
Otherwise, game play continues until one team scores two tricks. Whichever team does so wins the hand, and scores the value of the hand. The deal then passes to the right, and another hand is played.
When a team’s score reaches eleven points, any points in excess of eleven are ignored. (That is, if a team were to have a score of, say, eight stones, and then win a hand valued at four stones, their score would become eleven; the extra point is ignored.) This team is said to be lying down. Special rules apply when a team is lying down, because only one more stone is needed to win the game.
When a team is lying down, the normal bidding procedure doesn’t happen. Instead, the captain of the team that is lying down chooses whether or not to forfeit the hand. If they forfeit, the opponents score one stone. Should the lying-down team play the hand and lose, the opponents score three stones. When a lying-down team wins a hand, they win the game.
If both teams are lying down, the hand is played no matter what, and the winner of the hand wins the game.
Traditionally, Envite is played in best-of-three matches. Whoever wins two out of the three games wins the overall match.
Mattis is a Norwegian trick-taking game for three to eight players. A game of Mattis consists of two distinct parts. First, players build their hands by capturing cards during the first trick-taking segment. Then, players try to rid their hand of cards in the second half. The last player to have cards in their hand is called the mattis, Norwegian for fool.
Mattis is part of a family of Scandinavian games with this two-part structure. Like the Swedish game Skitgubbe and the Finnish game Koira, it likely derives from the game Myllymatti, which originated in what is now western Finland in the early nineteenth century. As these games spread west into Norway, they evolved into what is now called Mattis.
Object of Mattis
The object of Mattis is to capture high-ranking cards through the first round of trick-taking. Then, the players take part in a second round of trick-taking, using the cards they won in the first round. The ultimate goal of the game is to avoid being the last player holding cards in the second round.
In order to play Mattis, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Of course, you’ll probably want to treat your guests to your Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.
Shuffle and deal three cards to each player. Place the remaining cards in the center of the table, where everyone can easily reach it, forming the stock.
Building the hands
The player to the dealer’s left leads any card they wish to the first trick. Each player in turn then plays whatever card they wish. There is no requirement to follow suit. Whichever player contributes the highest card (according to the standard ranking, with aces high, and irrespective of suit) to the trick wins it. They collect the cards played to the trick, placing them face-down in a won-cards pile in front of them. Each player then draws back up to three cards, and the player that won the trick leads to the next one.
In the event that two or more cards tie for highest, all of the cards in the trick remain on the table. Each player involved in the tie then plays another card to break the tie. If there is another tie, the tied players play again, and so on until the tie is resolved. The ultimate winner takes all of the cards on the table (both the original trick and all the tiebreak cards) into their won-trick pile.
When there are cards left in the stock, a player can choose to play blind by turning up the top card of the stock. When they do this, they are committed to play whatever card comes up; they cannot change their mind and play a card from their hand.
Ending the first half
When the last card of the stock is drawn, the player who draws it shows it to the other players. Then, they put it directly into their won-cards pile. The suit of this card will become the trump suit in the game’s second phase. With the stock now depleted, play continues on, but players simply do not draw new cards.
The first phase ends when a player runs completely out of cards. Each player puts any remaining cards in their hand into their won-cards piles. Any player that did not capture any cards during the first phase are called blåmattis (blue fool), but they remain in the game for the second phase.
Playing the hands out
Each player’s won-tricks pile forms their hand for the second half of the game. Players who are blåmattis will, of course, start the hand with no cards. Game play begins with the player who took the last card of the stock (the trump maker) in the first phase. This player leads any card they wish to the first trick. Each player in turn then plays a card that beats all previous cards played to the trick. A card is considered higher than another card if it is of a higher rank and of the same suit, or if it is a trump.
Rather than playing a single card, a player may also play a sequence. A sequence is two or more consecutive cards of the same suit. This helps a player get cards out of their hand more quickly. The length of a sequence doesn’t matter, only the rank of the cards comprising it. A sequence can start a trick, or it can be played to beat a lower single card or sequence. Higher single cards can beat lower sequences.
If a player is unable to play (either because they are blåmattis or because they have no cards that can beat the last card played), they pick up the lowest card on the table, and the trick continues with the next player to the left. When the lowest card on the table is part of a sequence, someone who cannot play to a trick must pick up that entire sequence.
A trick is considered complete whenever there are the same number of plays (either single cards or sequences) in it as there were players at the start of the trick. For example, if a trick started with four players, there would need to be four plays in it before the trick was considered finished. When a trick is finished, the cards in it are discarded, and the last person to play (and thus who played highest) leads to the next trick.
Ending the game
As players run out of cards, they drop out of the game. The last player with cards loses and becomes the mattis. Traditionally, during the next game, the mattis of the previous game is required to wear the mattishaetta (fool hat), a particularly ugly hat procured for the purpose.