Lórum is a card game for four players. Lórum is a great example of a compendium game, rolling seven different styles of game play into one game. In Lórum’s case, the first four hands are played as a trick-taking game. Then, it’s followed up with a point-counting game. The two final hands are Stops games. Then, the cycle begins anew, with a new dealer.
Lórum originated in Hungary at the very beginning of the 20th century. It is the oldest member of a group of compendium games that all involve avoiding tricks. Other games likely descended from Lórum are the French game Barbu and the Russian game King.
Object of Lórum
The object of Lórum is to have the most chips after 28 hands. On some hands, players collect chips by avoiding taking certain cards, which vary from hand to hand. On others, the goal is to run out of cards first.
To play Lórum, you’ll need a 32-card deck of cards. You can easily make such a deck out of a sturdy deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards by removing all the 6s through 2s. You’ll be left with a deck that has only aces, face cards, and 10s through 7s in each of the four suits.
Lórum is typically played with hard scoring, so you’ll need a bunch of tokens or chips. An amount of real money may be attached to each chip, if desired. If so, each player purchases however many chips they’d like to start the game with. Otherwise, distribute the same number of chips to each player.
Determine the first dealer randomly. This dealer will deal the first seven hands, then pass to the next dealer, who will deal the next seven, and so on. Shuffle and deal eight cards to each player, exhausting the whole pack.
A game of Lórum cycles through seven different types of hands. Several of these are trick-taking games. The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player, proceeding clockwise, plays one card to the trick. They must follow suit if able; otherwise, they can play any card they wish. Whoever played the highest card of the suit led wins the trick; they take the cards and place them in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of them. That player then leads to the next trick.
Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high.
The seven hands
1. No hearts
The first hand is played as a trick-taking game. Hearts cannot be led to the first trick.
After all eight tricks have been played, each player counts up the number of hearts in their won-tricks pile. What happens next depends on how many players captured hearts:
- All players took at least one heart: For each heart captured, a player pays one chip to the pot.
- Three players took hearts, and one didn’t: For each heart captured, a player pays one chip directly to the person who didn’t take any hearts. The player who didn’t take any hearts will collect eight chips from their opponents.
- Two players took hearts, two didn’t: For each heart captured, a player pays one chip. The two players who didn’t take hearts each get four of these chips.
- One player took all eight hearts: Each player who didn’t take hearts has to pay the one who took the hearts eight chips! They’ll end up receiving a total of 24 chips from their opponents.
In this trick-taking hand, players must pay when they capture queens. Capturing the Q♥ costs four points, the Q♦ three, the Q♠ two, and the Q♣ one.
- All players took one queen: Players pay into the pot.
- Three players took queens, and one didn’t: The players who took queens pay the person who didn’t directly. The player who didn’t take any queens will collect ten chips from their opponents.
- Two players took hearts, two didn’t: The two players who captured queens pay, and the ten chips are split between the two players who didn’t take queens.
- One player took all four queens: Each player who didn’t take queens has to pay the one who took the queens ten chips! The player who captured all four queens gets a total of 30 chips from their opponents.
3. No tricks
A trick-taking hand where the aim is to avoid taking any tricks at all. Be sure to keep the tricks separate in the won-tricks pile by placing them atop each other at right angles to one another. Payments are made the same as on the no-hearts hand.
4. Hairy Ape
Players do not look at their cards as they’re being dealt. Instead, they pick their cards up and hold them with their backs facing them. This means that they can only see their opponents’ hands and not their own. Players then play a faintly ridiculous trick-taking game. If at least one of the cards played follows suit to the lead, the trick is captured by the highest card of the suit led, as normal. Otherwise, each player captures their own card. Whoever captures the K♥ pays four chips into the pot.
For a more serious game, hold the cards facing toward you and just play a normal trick-taking game, avoiding capturing the K♥.
In any case, once the K♥ has been captured, there’s no point in playing the hand out. The deal can be abandoned at that point.
For this hand, aces count eleven each, kings count four, queens are worth three, jacks two, and 10s one. The remaining ranks (9s, 8s, and 7s) have no value. The player to the dealer’s left plays any card they wish, and call out its value. The next player to the left plays a card, calling out the combined total of their card and the one before it, and so on.
The player who makes the running total greater than or equal to 25 must pay a chip into the pot. The player who brings the count to 50 pays two chips, to 75 three chips, and to 100 four chips.
The player to the dealer’s left plays any card they wish. The player who holds the next higher card of the same suit plays it, regardless of turn order. When an ace is played, it is followed by the 7 of that suit. This continues until either four cards have been played, or play cannot continue because the card continuing the sequence has already been played. When this happens, the cards are turned face down, and the last person to play may play whatever they like, starting a new sequence.
The hand continues until someone runs out of cards. Each of their opponents pays that player one chip for every card they hold.
The player to the dealer’s left begins by playing any card they want. The next player must then play a card of the same suit either one rank below or one rank above the starter, placing it to the left or the right of the starter respectively. They may also play another card of the same rank as the starter, placing it below the starter to begin a new row. Game play continues in this manner, with the players laying the deck onto the table in a grid-like layout. If a player has no valid card to play on their turn, they pass.
When a player runs out of cards, each of their opponents pays one chip into the pot for every card they hold. The winning player then takes the entire pot.
The eighth hand onward
After playing seven hands with the same dealer, the deal passes to the left. The new dealer will then deal the next seven hands, starting with a no-hearts hand, and running through the above cycle. Then they pass the deck off to the next dealer, and so on. The game continues until all four players have dealt seven hands. Whichever player has the most chips at that point wins the game.
King is a trick-taking card game for four players. A game of King consists of ten hands. During the first six hands, players lose points if they capture certain tricks or tricks containing certain cards. These conditions change on each hand. During the last four hands, players score points by either capturing tricks or not capturing them, as determined by the dealer.
King is played throughout the world, especially in Europe, Russia, and South America. It’s unclear where it ultimately originated from, though; despite the English name “King”, it is not well known in any English-speaking countries.
Object of King
The object of King is to have the most points after ten hands. For the first six hands, players avoid capturing tricks to avoid negative scores. For the last four hands, players scored points by capturing tricks, or avoiding them, depending on the rules decided by the dealer.
To play King, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. To provide your players with the best game-night experience they’ve ever had, though, you’ll need a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper or a smartphone app.
Choose the first dealer randomly by shuffling the deck and dealing cards one at a time, face up, until a player receives the king of hearts. That player is the first dealer. Shuffle and deal thirteen cards (face down) to each player, dealing out the entire deck.
On each hand, game play follows much the same formula, though the goal and thus the players’ strategies are different on each hand. The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player in turn plays a card to the trick of the same suit, if they have one; otherwise, they may play any card. After all four have played, whoever played the highest card of the trump suit, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played, takes the trick. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high.
Whoever takes the trick takes the four cards in it and places them in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of them. For some hands, it is necessary to know how many tricks each player has taken; on these hands the tricks should be placed at right angles to each other to keep them separated. The player that captured the last trick then leads to the next one.
After thirteen tricks, the hand is over. The score is then computed according to the rules of the hand.
The negative hands
The first six hands of the game are called the negative hands. The one thing all of these hands have in common is that there is no way to score positive points. Rather, on each hand, one or more players will lose points by taking tricks or tricks containing certain cards. The scoring for each hand, in order, is as follows:
- −20 for each trick captured
- −20 for each heart captured
- −50 for each queen captured
- −30 for each king or jack captured
- −160 for capturing the K♥
- −90 for capturing each of the last two tricks
There are no trumps during the negative hands. After the sixth hand, the four players’ scores should total −1,300.
The positive hands
After the six negative hands are the four positive hands. Players have the opportunity to score positive points on these hands. On some hands, players may score for capturing tricks, while on others, they may be rewarded for avoiding doing so.
The dealer decides whether they would like to designate one of the four suits as the trump suit, play with no trump, or auction the right to choose trumps to the other three players. If they choose to auction, the player to the dealer’s left starts the bidding with some number of tricks. Each player in turn then may either bid higher than the previous high bid, or pass. The dealer is skipped. Once there have been two consecutive passes, the high bidder gets the right to name the trump suit, or declare no trump.
After the trump suit has been determined, the dealer (not the winner of the bidding) chooses whether the game will be played playing up or playing down. If the game is played up, then capturing each trick scores a player 25 points. If the game is played down, each player starts with a hand score of 325 points, and 75 points are deducted for each trick captured. Note that a player can still have a negative hand score if they capture more than four tricks!
The hand is then played out. After the thirteen tricks have been played, each player counts the number of tricks they captured. If the dealer auctioned off the right to name trumps, then the high bid is deducted from the bidders’ trick count and added to that of the dealer. The scores are then calculated from these adjusted trick totals.
Ending the game
After the four positive hands, whoever has the most positive points wins the game.
The total hand score for the four positive hands is 325 points per hand, or 1,300 points altogether. This cancels out the −1,300 points scored across the six negative hands. Thus, the scores can be checked by adding all of the players’ scores together at the end of the game and ensuring that they balance (the sum is zero).
Tribello is a trick-taking game for three players, played primarily in the U.S. state of Illinois. Like Trex, Tribello is an excellent example of a “compendium game”—the rules of the game change every three hands. That means Tribello is really like four games in one!
Object of Tribello
The object of Tribello is to have the most points at the end of the game. In the first three phases of the game, this is done by collecting as many tricks as possible. In the fourth phase, players try to take as few tricks as possible.
Tribello uses one standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Naturally, we endorse the idea of using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You will also need something to keep score with, such as pencil and paper or a smartphone application.
The player to the dealer’s left cuts the cards prior to the deal. For the first three hands, the bottom card of the top half of the deck is exposed, setting the trump suit. Shuffle and deal four hands of thirteen cards each. Three of these will go to the players. The fourth hand is left face down and becomes the widow, which belongs to nobody, at least at first.
After the players have received their hands and had a chance to look at them, the players may draw from the widow. The dealer goes first, discarding any number of cards that they wish and drawing the same number from the widow. The player to the dealer’s left goes next, discarding any number of cards up to the number that are left in the widow and drawing back up to thirteen. If there are any cards left, the player to the dealer’s right has the opportunity to draw from the widow.
The four phases of play
Game play in Tribello takes place in four distinct phases of three hands each. The first three hands comprise the first phase. The fourth through sixth hands make up the second phase, and so on. Each player deals once during each phase.
During the first phase, the card exposed during the cut sets the trump suit. In the second phase, the dealer chooses the trump suit after looking at their hand. There are no trumps in the third and fourth phases.
Each player has a contract they must make. The contracts are the same amounts in the first three phases. For the dealer, the goal is six tricks, for the player at the dealer’s left, four tricks, and for the player to the dealer’s right, three tricks. In the fourth phase, where players are trying to avoid taking tricks, the contracts are three for the dealer, four for the player to the dealer’s left, and six for the player at the dealer’s right.
Play of the hand
Game play proceeds much like any other trick-taking game. The dealer leads to the first trick. The other two players, in turn, then play to the trick. Players must follow suit if able; otherwise, they may play any card, including a trump.
After all three players have played to the trick, the person who played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played, wins it. The player winning the trick takes the cards and places them in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of them. To make it easier to identify the number of tricks taken, it helps to place each trick at right angles to the trick before it.
Ending the hand
The hand ends when all thirteen tricks have been played. At this point the hand is scored.
In the first three phases, players score one point for each trick taken in excess of their contract. If they fail to meet their contract, they lose one point for each trick below contract. Meeting the contract exactly scores zero. Because the three contracts add up to thirteen tricks, the same number as there are available, the three players’ scores should always add up to zero.
The fourth phase is scored similarly, but because the object is to avoid taking tricks, the signs are reversed. That is, for each trick taken in excess of their contract, a player loses a point. For each trick below contract that a player comes in, they score a point.
Trex, also known as Trix, is a game for four players which is popular in the Middle East. Unusually, Trex has five different sets of game rules that could be in force for any given hand, so it could be considered to really be five games in one.
Object of Trex
The object of Trex is to accurately judge your hand to select the most favorable set of rules to play it under (when able), thereby scoring the most points.
Trex uses the standard 52-card deck. Naturally, we recommend Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, but I guess if you wanted to play with something else, you could…we’d be so disappointed, though….
You also need something to keep score with. Pencil and paper is the traditional route, but if you’re more comfortable using a chalkboard, a dry erase board, an abacus, or your phone, we’re pretty flexible around here.
Shuffle and deal thirteen cards to each player. The player who is dealt the 7♥ exposes it, and is said to own the kingdom for the first five hands.
Upon receiving their hand, the player who owns the kingdom selects any of the five games listed below for the hand about to commence. Once this is done, the hand is played out and scored. The next hand is then dealt by the player who owns the kingdom, and they select any of the four games that weren’t already chosen. This continues until the player has played all five games, and then the kingdom passes to the player to their right, who also deals all five games in whatever order they see fit, and so on until all four players have owned the kingdom, meaning twenty hands have been dealt.
All of the games except Trex follow a trick-taking format. The dealer leads to the first trick; thereafter, each trick is led by the winner of the previous one, with play proceeding to the left. Players must follow suit if able; otherwise, they may play any card. The winner of each trick is the player who plays the highest card of the suit led. Won tricks are not taken into the hand, but placed in a discard pile in front of the player, with any cards affecting the score extracted and placed face-up to allow players to keep track of what cards have been taken by whom (except in Eltoosh).
Each diamond captured by the player scores +10 points.
Each trick won by the player scores –15 points. Tricks are kept in a face-down discard pile, with each trick laid at a right angle to the previous, allowing for easy counting at the end of the hand.
Each queen captured by the player scores –25 points. A player holding a queen may elect to double it by exposing it before the first trick is played. In so doing, the penalty for capturing this particular queen is increased to –50 points, and the holder of the queen scores +25 points. If the player holding the doubled queen is the one that captures it, they score –50 and the player that led the trick scores +25 points.
King of Hearts
The K♥ scores –75 points when captured by a player. Hearts may not be led to a trick unless the player has no other option.
The player holding the K♥ may double it, as in Girls, by exposing it prior to the first trick. The penalty for capturing the K♥ is increased to –150, and the holder of the king scores +75. If the player captures their own king, they score –150 and the player that led the trick scores +75.
Trex is, unlike the other four contracts, a Stops game, closely resembling Fan Tan. Upon receiving their hands, any player holding all four 2s, or three 2s and a 3 of the fourth suit, may expose these cards, and the hand is abandoned. The player who owns the kingdom is not necessarily required to choose Trex as the game on the redealt hand, so long as other options remain available.
The dealer plays first, with play continuing to the left. If a player is unable to legally play a card, they simply pass, but if they are able to make at least one play, they are compelled to do so. Play starts with the jacks; they are placed in the center of the table in a vertical row. Further cards may be played to these jacks, so long as they are the same suit and one rank higher or one rank lower than any cards previously played to them. In this manner, each jack is built up to the ace (which is high) and down to the two.