|Designed by||P.D. Magnus|
A trick taking game in which players bid to determine which suit cards will have.
In this trick-taking game, each of the Decktet cards is treated as just having one suit. For the double-suited number cards, only the top or bottom suit is active in a given hand.
Decide arbitrarily who will deal the first hand. In subsequent hands, the player on the dealer's left becomes the new dealer.
Deal the entire basic deck out evenly to players. Three players will get 12 cards each; four players will get 9 each.
The player on the dealer's left starts bidding by calling either a suit, TOP, or BOTTOM. If a suit is called, then that will be the trump suit for the hand. If TOP or BOTTOM is called, then that determines how cards will be read for the hand. In a TOP hand, the topmost of the two suit symbols determines the suit of a number card. In a BOTTOM hand, the bottommost suit symbol does.
Example: In a TOP hand, the 8 WYRMS-KNOTS is a WYRM card. In a BOTTOM hand, it is a KNOT card.
The next player, clockwise around the table, must then declare a trump suit (if the first player called TOP or BOTTOM) or TOP or BOTTOM (if the first player called a trump suit. After this call, it will have been decided both how suits will be read (top or bottom) and which suit is trump.
Continuing around the table clockwise, players must bid a number of tricks that they think they will be able to take.
Once all players' bids have been recorded, the player who bid first selects a card from their hand to lead the first trick.
You may not lead a card with the trump suit until a trump card has been played in the hand, unless you have nothing but trumps in your hand.
After a card is led, clockwise around the table, each player plays a card with the same suit as the card that was led. Players who have no cards of the named suit may play any card from their hand.
If no trump cards were played, then the highest card that follows suit wins the trick; if any trumps were played, then the highest ranked trump card wins the trick. (As usual: Aces are low. Crowns are high.)
The winner of the trick leads the next trick. Once someone has played a trump, it is permissible to lead with a trump card.
Play continues until there are no cards remaining.
If you win exactly the number of tricks than you bid, then you score four times your bid; if you win one trick more or less than you bid, then you score two times your bid; if they score two tricks more or less than you bid, then you score points equal to your bid.
Game can be played for a fixed amount of time or to a target score. We find that 31 points is a satisfactory game.
A player may bid Nil, which commits them to taking exactly zero tricks. The score for Nil depends on how many tricks were taken by the player who took the most tricks — regardless of whether or not they made their bid! If you bid Nil and get exactly zero tricks, then you score points equal to four times the number of tricks that were taken by that other player.
Although it is possible to play free-for-all with four players, I much prefer this variant. Players pair up in shifting partnerships, changing their allegiances from hand to hand. Rather than just having the first two players declare how the hand will be played, players make declarations until two players have declared the same thing; they become partners for the hand.
Deal out cards for four.
The player to the dealer's left declares Top, Bottom, or a trump suit. The player to their left does the same. If the first and second player declare the same thing, then they will be partners for this hand. If they did not, then declaration continues clockwise around the table. If it goes all the way around the table and you make a second or even a third declaration, you may not repeat a declaration that you have already made.
When two players have made the same declaration as each other, those two will be partners against the other two. This both determines partnerships and how the hand will be played (Top, Bottom, or trump; whichever declaration was repeated). The other two players (the ones who have not matched declarations yet) continue declaring to determine the other aspect of the hand.
The last player to make a declaration leads the first trick, and play proceeds according to the usual rules. At the end of the hand, each player scores one point for each trick taken by them or by their partner.
Old School Chicane
This is an earlier version of the game which is played without trump. Although not a smashing success, it does have its fans.
Deal out cards as usual.
The player on the dealer's left starts bidding. The player bids a number and either top or bottom. The number is the exact number of tricks they think they can take if they determine suits.
Continuing around the table clockwise, players have the option of making a larger bid or passing. A top bid is considered higher than a bottom bid. A player may not bid in a hand after they have passed. Bidding continues until a highest bid is unchallenged.
Example: The first bidder bids 3 bottom. A subsequent player must either pass, bid 3 top, or bid 4 or more. If the next player bids 4 top, then a subsequent player must either pass or bid 5 or more.
The high bidder then selects any card from their hand to lead the first trick. Note that only the last, highest bid determines whether the hand is played top or bottom; prior, lower bids don't matter once play begins.
Game play: Clockwise around the table, each player plays a card that matches the suit of the card that was led. If you have no cards of the suit led, then you may play any card from your hand. The highest card that follows suit wins the trick. An Ace is below 2; a Crown is above 9.
The winner of the trick leads the next trick. Play continues until players have no cards remaining.
If the high bidder won fewer tricks than they bid, they score nothing; if they score exactly as many tricks as they bid, then they score their bid plus three bonus points; if they score more more tricks than they bid, then they score their bid minus one penalty point per overtrick.
Other players score one point for each trick they won, regardless of whatever they might have bid.
Nil bids: A player may bid nil, which commits them to taking exactly zero tricks. In the order of bidding, a nil bottom bid is higher than any number bid whatever. A nil top bid is higher than nil bottom. Once someone bids nil top, there is no room left for further bidding.
A player who bids nil and wins no tricks scores ten points. If the player wins even a single trick, however, the nil bid is lost. The player loses one point for each trick they won.
Original design: P.D. Magnus
Playtesting: Cristyn Magnus, Maya Kiehl, Tom Kiehl, Jeff Warrender, Kevin Warrender, Chris DeLeo, Jason Mutford, Pete Murray, John Milanese