Nap

Nap, originally known as Napoleon, which Nap is an abbreviation of, is essentially a stripped-down and simplified version of Euchre for three to seven players. Despite its heavy use of the names of early nineteenth-century military personalities, Nap didn’t appear in written records until the latter half of the century.

Object of Nap

The object of Nap is to accurately predict the number of tricks you will take, thus scoring points by fulfilling bids.

Setup

Nap uses a special deck which varies based on the number of players. For three players, the deck consists of aces through nines in the four standard suits. For four players, eights are added, sevens are added for five players, and so on. Optionally, a joker may be added, which functions as the highest trump, and remains such in hands that would otherwise have no trump. You can create the appropriate deck by starting from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards and removing the inapplicable cards.

Scoring is generally accomplished by the use of poker chips. Distribute an equal number of chips to each player. If desired, Nap can become a betting game, by all players agreeing to the value of one credit (which can be represented by one chip per credit, or simply transacted in cash). In this post, we’ll use the term credit to refer to this value, whether it has a cash value attached to it or is just a point.

Shuffle and deal five cards to each player, dealing one batch of three, followed by a batch of two. The deck stub is set aside and takes no further part in game play.

Game play

Before game play begins, a round of bidding takes place, beginning with the player to the dealer’s left. Bids are as follows, from lowest to highest:

  1. Two (two credits): The player will win two tricks.
  2. Three (three credits): The player will win three tricks.
  3. Mis (three credits): The player will lose all five tricks.
  4. Four (four credits): The player will win four tricks.
  5. Nap (ten credits): The player will win all five tricks.
  6. Wellington (twenty credits): The player will win all five tricks.
  7. Blücher (forty credits): The player will win all five tricks.

A bid may only be overcalled by a higher bid. Wellington may only be bid if Nap has been bid previously, and Blücher may only be bid if Wellington has been bid previously. Note that Wellington and Blücher are functionally identical to Nap, but simply carry higher stakes.

The player that won the bidding leads to the first trick. The suit of whichever card is led to this trick becomes the trump suit, unless the winning bid was mis, in which case the hand is played with no trump suit. Each player to the left then plays a card. If able to follow suit, a player must do so. Otherwise, they are free to play any card, including a trump. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, unless a trump is present, in which case the highest trump wins the trick.

Collected tricks are not added to the hand, but rather kept in a discard pile in front of the player that won it. Since it is important to keep track of the number of tricks captured, each trick should be placed onto the pile at right angles, so that the tricks can be easily separated after the hand. The player that won the trick leads to the next one.

When all five tricks have been played, the high bidder examines their discard pile and it is determined whether or not the contract is fulfilled. If it is, all players pay them the appropriate number of credits, as shown above. If not, they must pay every other player the amount of credits dictated by the bid.

Deal passes to the left. It is customary to merely cut the deck stub and deal with it, shuffling only when the deck is depleted or when a bid of Nap or above is successfully completed.

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Seahaven Towers

Seahaven Towers layoutSeahaven Towers is a solitaire game that was invented in 1988 by Art Cabral. Similar to FreeCell, the game offers wide latitude for strategy; a good player may be able to win up to 75% of the games played with careful decision-making.

Object of Seahaven Towers

The object of Seahaven Towers is to move all 52 cards to the four foundation piles.

Setup

Seahaven Towers requires one standard 52-card pack of playing cards. While solitaire games are nowhere near as demanding on a deck of cards as some other games (we’re looking at you, Slapjack), if you’ve got a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, there’s no real reason not to use them.

Shuffle and deal ten columns of five cards each, face up, overlapping so that the indices of each card are visible, but it’s still clear which card is on top. This forms the tableau. Place the remaining two cards above the fifth and sixth columns, forming the second and third towers (the first and fourth towers are the imaginary spaces to the left and right of these two cards). The foundations are, at the start of the game, empty, but the spade foundation will go above the first column, the hearts above the second, the diamonds above the ninth, and the clubs above the tenth. Refer to the image accompanying this post for assistance in setting up the layout.

Game play

As in most solitaire games, the object of the game is to move all cards to the foundations, which are built up in sequence, starting from the ace and ending with the king.

The four tower slots serve as holding spaces for cards, much like the free cells in FreeCell. Any available card can be played to them at any time, and any card in a tower may be removed from a tower and played at any other legal spot at any time. Towers should be sparingly used, however, as they facilitate moving cards around and serve as a valuable storage space for cards which block other cards which are needed more immediately.

A card in the tableau is only available for play if it is free of overlapping cards. For example, in the image, the 6♥ in the first column is available for play, but the 4♠ below it is not. Tableau piles are built down in a descending sequence of the same suit. In the image, the 4♦ may be moved on top of the 5♦. Strings of cards may not be moved as a unit, although such a string can be moved by way of moving the cards up into the towers, then pulling them out again.

Any vacancies in the tableau caused by clearing an entire column of cards may only be filled by a king.

 

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Ninety-Nine

Ninety-Nine is a simple counting game for two to six players. Players use the differing values of cards to modify a running count of cards played to prevent themselves from forcing the count above 99.

Object of Ninety-Nine

The object of Ninety-Nine is to avoid making the running count of cards played exceed 99.

Setup

Ninety-Nine requires the use of one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Since this is a post made by Denexa Games, it should come as no surprise that we recommend the use of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards in a bit of shameless self-promotion.

You will also need three tokens or lammers. Poker chips work well, but you can use whatever sort of trinket or marker is convenient. Distribute three tokens to each player, and then shuffle and deal four cards to each player. The deck stub is placed in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left plays a card face up to the center of the table, announcing its value. They then draw a card from the stock, restoring their hand size to four. Should a player forget to draw before the next player’s turn, they are not entitled to draw later; they must continue the game with a diminished hand. The next player in turn plays another card, adds or subtracts its value from that of the initial card, then calls out the running count as modified by their card.

The following are the values of cards and other effects that they have:

Card Value Other effect
Ace +1 or +11 Value at player’s option
2 +2
3 +3 Next player skipped
4 0 Order of play is reversed in games with more than two players
5–8 +face value
9 Count automatically becomes 99
10 ±10 Value at player’s option
J, Q +10
K 0

Players continue playing and drawing until one player cannot play a card without the count exceeding 99. (Note that it is perfectly fine for the count to equal 99, even for an extended period of time, so long as it is not greater than 99.) When this occurs, the player forfeits one token and a new hand is dealt. When all three tokens are lost, the player drops out of the game.

Game play continues until only one player remains.

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Egyptian Ratscrew

Egyptian Ratscrew is something of a hybrid of War and Slapjack, for two or more players. Like Spoons, the physicality of the game makes it a potential source of injury if players get too exuberant. While there’s slightly more strategy in Egyptian Ratscrew than there is in War, there’s still not much, so this game is generally enjoyed most by those who aren’t yet old enough to drive a car.

Object of Egyptian Ratscrew

The object of Egyptian Ratscrew is to get all of the cards. All of them.

Setup

Egyptian Ratscrew features people smacking cards excitedly, so you need some sturdy cards. Fortunately, Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards fit the bill perfectly. Most games will be adequately served by one 52-card deck, but there’s no reason you can’t shuffle in a second one for larger games (and it doesn’t matter too much if the backs don’t match). Some players add one or more jokers to ensure the deck divides evenly between players.

There are many variations on the rules to Egyptian Ratscrew, so make sure everyone is on board with the particular set of rules that will be used.

Shuffle and deal out the cards one at a time, starting with the player at the dealer’s left, and continuing clockwise from there. Some people might end up with one more card than others, and that’s okay. Cards are not to be looked at by any player. Each player’s cards should be kept in a neat stack in front of them, face down.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left begins by flipping one card face up from their stack and playing it to the center of the table. Since the player would have an advantage if they turned the card up the normal way, since they would glimpse the card before anyone else, Egyptian Ratscrew convention is to grab the card from the far side and flip it up away from oneself. The next player to the left does the same, flipping a card face up and adding to the central pile. Cards played out of turn remain on the pile, and are considered dead cards—any effect their rank would have on game play is ignored—and the player who played them must play again when it becomes their turn (in essence, charging them a fee of one card for playing out of turn).

When a player reveals a face card or an ace, the next player after them is challenged. The challenged player must flip up a number of cards as a response, looking for another face card; a jack requires one card to be revealed in response, a queen two, a king three, and an ace four. If the player successfully reveals a face card, the challenge passes to the player to their left, who must turn over the number of cards required by the most-recently turned over face card. If a challenged player reveals all numeric cards, then the challenge is lost and whoever was the most recent player to play a face card is entitled to add the entire pile of played cards to the bottom of their stack. Should a player run out of cards mid-challenge, the next player to the left has the option to continue the challenge, playing the number of permissible cards remaining, or they can decline it, awarding the stack to the player that played the most recent face card.

Another opportunity to win the pile is when a pair is played consecutively. When this is noticed, the first player to slap the pile is awarded the entire thing, which is added to their stack. If multiple players slap, the player whose hand is on the bottom (i.e. in direct contact with the pile) wins. Slaps preempt any challenge that was taking place at the time. If jokers are used, jokers are also slappable, and some players add other slappable combinations, such as a sandwich (a pair separated by one card of another rank, like 7-4-7), or a sequence of three or more cards. To prevent players from slapping everything, players who make unwarranted slaps must pay one penalty card to the pile, which is considered a dead card. It may also be helpful to require players to designate one hand as a card-flipping hand and the other for slapping to allow everyone to be on the same footing when it comes to slaps.

When a player runs out of cards, they are eliminated for the time being. They may slap in to the game, so long as there are two active players in the game, by slapping a valid card combination and winning the pile as per usual; this privilege is revoked if the player makes a false slap, permanently shutting them out of the game.

Game play continues until only two players are in the game, and one runs out of cards. The sole remaining player takes the pile, and thus becomes the winner.

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Whist

Whist is an extremely old game, dating back to the 1600s. Deriving from an older game called Ruff and Honors, Whist received a boost in popularity from a 1742 publication called A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, written by a gentleman named Edmond Hoyle. Despite the high price of one guinea for what amounted to little more than a pamphlet, the work sold out. Hoyle followed up on A Short Treatise on Whist with another publication of An Artificial Memory for Whist, which, along with other essays on games such as Piquet, Brag, Quadrille, Chess, and Backgammon, helped establish Hoyle as an authority on games, to the point that “according to Hoyle” became general English slang. A Short Treatise on Whist remained the canonical governing document of Whist until 1864.

As for Whist, it remained popular into the early twentieth century. It is the direct parent of Bridge Whist, which gave rise to Bridge and then Contract Bridge, the dominant social game of the twentieth century. Contract Bridge went on to influence countless other games, such as Spades. While Whist is nowhere near as popular as it was in the past, it still offers players the opportunity for strategic—some would say scientific—play, and serves as an excellent introduction to trick-taking games in general and Contract Bridge specifically.

Object of Whist

The object of Whist is to score points by taking the most tricks possible.

Setup

Whist uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. We’re not saying that a dragon will set fire to your coffee table if you don’t use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, but, hey, that’s never happened to someone who did use them.

You will also need some manner of score-keeping apparatus, ranging from the humble pencil and paper to something more extravagant like bins filled with rubies, diamonds, and emeralds representing each trick won by a side. Actually, don’t use the latter as your score-keeping method. It’s super tacky and might make your friends suspect that you are part of some kind of illegal smuggling operation, tempting them to call the FBI tip hotline after the game if you win.

The players divide into two partnerships, with partners sitting across from one another, so that the turn of play alters between partnerships when going clockwise.

Shuffle and deal thirteen cards to each player. The final card of the deck, the dealer’s thirteenth card, is exposed. This card’s suit becomes the trump suit for the hand. This final card remains face-up on the table until the dealer’s first play of the hand, at which point it is added to the remainder of their cards in their hand.

Game play

The player to the left of the dealer leads first. Each player to the left then plays a card. If able to follow suit, a player must do so. Otherwise, they are free to play any card, including a trump. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, unless a trump is present, in which case the highest trump wins the trick.

Collected tricks are not added to the hand, but rather kept in a discard pile in front of one of the partners. Since it is important to keep track of the number of tricks captured, each trick should be placed onto the pile at right angles, so that the tricks can be easily separated after the hand. The individual player that won the trick leads to the next one.

After all thirteen tricks have been played, the hand is scored by counting the number of tricks scored by each partnership. Each trick in excess of six counts for one point.

Game play continues until a pre-defined number of points (such as 25) is reached.

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Spoons

spoonsSpoons is essentially a card game version of Musical Chairs for three to six players. Players race to be the first to complete a four-of-a-kind, at which point they grab a spoon, of which there is one fewer than there are players. The person left without a spoon feels very sad about the whole affair.

Object of Spoons

The object of Spoons is to simply not be the last player left without a spoon.

Setup

You will need at least one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Because Spoons can get out of hand rather easily, it would probably be a good idea to use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, as other cards may not be sturdy enough to withstand the gameplay unscathed. A single deck of cards will work well for three to six players. If you wish to add more players, add a second deck of cards. It probably doesn’t matter if the backs match up, so you can use the other deck in the set if you’re using a set of Denexa cards.

You will also need some spoons, specifically one fewer than the number of players in the game. Any spoons will do, although plastic spoons may break and produce sharp edges, so it may be better to use your regular spoons from the silverware drawer to avoid any cutlery-induced lacerations. Place the spoons where they are equally accessible to all players. Usually, this is the center of the table, but some players put the spoons somewhere further away to cause everyone to have to get up and race to the spoons (and probably fall over one another along the way).

Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. Place the deck stub to the left of the dealer, this becomes the stock.

Game play

Game play begins with the dealer, who draws one card from the stock, and discards one card face down onto the table, to their right. The player to the dealer’s right does the same, drawing the dealer’s discarded card, and discarding to the right, and so on around the table to the player to the left of the dealer, who simply discards into a discard pile to the left of the stock. There are no turns, however—the dealer can immediately draw again as soon as they have discarded, and then discard and draw again, as can every other player in the game. The only limitation is that they may never have more than 5 cards in hand at one time. As a result, slower players may end up with a pile of unprocessed cards to their left as faster opponents send cards down the line toward them.

If, at any point, the stock should run out, the discard pile is shunted over to take its place, and play continues uninterrupted.

When a player succeeds in assembling a four-of-a-kind, they discard their fifth card and grab a spoon. All other players grab one as well, with the player left without a spoon being branded the loser and getting the letter S from the word SPOON. Further letters are awarded for subsequent losses, and when a player has lost five rounds and spelled out the word SPOON they are out of the game. When a player is eliminated, so is a spoon, keeping the number of spoons one less than that of the number of players.

Game play continues until only one player remains.

Pig (variation)

Pig is a variant of Spoons with less spoons, less grabbing, less potential for injury, and more sneaky gameplay. Rather than grabbing for a spoon, in Pig, the player lays their hand face-down in front of them and places a finger on their nose. They continue to receive cards from their left but merely pass them to the right without looking at them, in the hopes of keeping the flow of the game going well enough that nobody else notices what they are doing. When another player notices the player with the finger on their nose, they do the same, putting their finger on their nose, laying their cards down, and continuing to pass cards. This continues until only one player remains oblivious to what is going on around them. This last player to put their finger to their nose is the loser.

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Euchre

Euchre, pronounced yoo-ker, is an game in the trick-taking family that was popular in the United States and Australia in the 1800s. It derives both its name and game play from a game called Juckerspiel, which was popular in Europe during the reign of Napoleon. Together with Bridge, Euchre was one of the forerunners of Five Hundred, and thus shares many similarities with that game. While versions of Euchre for as few as two and as many as seven players exist, the canonical version is for four players in partnerships. Thus, that is what we have included here.

Object of Euchre

For the side which names the trump suit, the object of Euchre is to score three out of the five tricks played in one hand. For the other side, the object is to prevent this from happening, thus euchring those who chose the trump suit.

Setup

The players divide into two partnerships, with partners sitting across from one another. The turn of play will alternate between partnerships when going clockwise.

Euchre requires the use of a special 32-card deck. Starting from a standard 52-card deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all of the 6s through 2s. You’ll be left with only the 7s through aces in each of the four suits.

You will also need some way of keeping score. While pencil and paper works, some clever Euchre player at some point came up with a way to do so using some of the cards that were discarded. Each partnership retains a 3 and a 4 for scorekeeping purposes. To display a score of zero, both cards are face down. For a score of one, the 3 is turned up, with the 4 turned face-down upon it in such a way that only one of the 3’s pips are visible. To denote a score of two, the 4 is turned up with the 3 turned down and obscuring all but two of the 4’s pips. For a score of three or four, the 3 and the 4 respectively are turned face up with the other card tucked behind it.

Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. Place the deck stub in the center of the table. Turn the top card is turned face-up and placed it top of the stub. The suit of this card, the upcard, will be the first proposed trump suit.

Card ranking

In the trump suit, Euchre ranks cards differently than most games. Since the ranking of cards depends on which suit is trump, some cards will have different rankings from hand to hand.

The rank of cards in the trump suit is as follows:

  1. Right bower. Jack of trumps.
  2. Left bower. The jack of the suit as the same color as trumps, despite not being of the trump suit, is considered a trump, and is ranked here. (For example, if clubs were trump, the J♣ would be the right bower, and the J♠ would be the left bower.)
  3. All of the remaining cards, in their usual order, with ace high. (A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7.)

Cards rank in the usual order, ace high, in the non-trump suits (save for the jack serving as the left bower).

Game play

Determining trumps

Starting from the player to the left of the dealer, the players either pass or agree to accept the suit of the upcard as the trump suit for the hand. The dealer’s partner signifies their agreement to the turned-up suit by declaring “I assist”. The players on the opposing partnership do so by declaring “I order it up.” Should the prior three players pass, the dealer, as the last player in the sequence, must either “take it up” (assent to the turned-up suit as trump) by discarding a card (see below) or “turn it down” (reject the turned-up trump) by placing the turned-up card partially under the deck stub, face up.

Should the dealer turn the turned-up trump down, a second round of trump-naming begins, with the dealer’s opponent to the left beginning again. This time, each player may either pass or name one of the other three suits as trump. (They cannot select the already-rejected suit.) Should all four players be so apathetic toward their hands that they pass, the hand is voided. The player to the left of the dealer shuffles and deals a new hand.

If the upcard’s suit has been established as trumps, the dealer may discard a card, placing it face down on the bottom of the deck stub. In return, the turned-up card is considered part of the dealer’s hand, and may be played at any time just like any other card in their hand. The dealer may decline to do so, although since the turned-up card is by necessity one of only nine trump cards, it would be rare that adding the turned-up card to the dealer’s hand would not improve it.

Prior to beginning play, the player who decided the trump suit may declare “alone.” This means the player opts to play alone, without their partner, for this hand only. Doing so allows the player playing alone to score more points if they score all five tricks, which is called a march. Upon a player declaring “alone”, the player’s partner places their cards face-down on the table and takes no further part in the hand.

Play of the hand

The player to the left of the dealer leads first; if this player is sitting out, the dealer’s partner leads. Each player to the left then plays a card. If able to follow suit, a player must do so. Otherwise, they are free to play any card, including a trump. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, unless a trump is present, in which case the highest trump wins the trick.

Collected tricks are not added to the hand. Rather, they’re kept in a discard pile in front of one of the partners. Since it is important to keep track of the number of tricks captured, each trick should be placed onto the pile at right angles, so that the tricks can be easily separated after the hand. The individual player that won the trick leads to the next one.

After all five tricks have been played, the hand is scored as follows:

  • Partnership making trump wins 3 or 4 tricks (called winning the odd trick)—1 point.
  • Partnership making trump makes a march—2 points.
  • Lone hand wins the odd trick—1 point.
  • Lone hand makes a march—4 points.
  • Partnership or lone hand making trump is euchred—opponents score 2 points.

After the hand is scored, the player to the left of the dealer shuffles and deals the next hand. Game play continues until one partnership reaches 5 points.

See also

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Washing a deck of cards

Washing a deck of cards is more than just another term for cleaning a deck of cards. Washing, also called scrambling, is a simple, but effective, method of quickly randomizing a deck of cards, especially one that has recently been verified.

To wash a deck of cards, just spread it face down on the table in two rows. Then, use your hands to slide the cards around the table in a circular motion. Periodically, change your motion in a random fashion, moving the cards clockwise, counterclockwise, away from you, toward you, etc. After a few minutes of this, gather the cards back up into a stack and square it up. The deck can now be shuffled in a normal fashion.

While this might seem like an amateurish way of shuffling cards, it randomizes the cards much more quickly than traditional riffle shuffles. Casino dealers wash decks of new cards immediately after verifying them whenever deck changes occur and new games are opened.

See also

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