Are you looking for something fun to do with your family or friends? Then trick-taking card games are a great way to bond and have some laughs! This card game mechanic has been around since the 15th century, and it remains popular in many parts of the world today.
If you’re ready and want to add more games to your arsenal, let’s explore six of the most well-known trick-taking games currently played in the United States. Whether you’re new to these classic time-tested games or an experienced pro at the table – there’s something here for everyone!
From traditional favourites like Bridge and Spades to modern ones like Fox in the Forest, read to discover which ideal trick-taking game is perfect for you!
Table of Contents
Trick-taking games are all about taking tricks and scoring points to win. Although it has some weird variations, such as trick-avoidance games like Hearts, the essential element of winning tricks remains a central feature of many great card games.
That said, here are six top trick-taking games that we think you’ll love:
Also known as Contract Bridge, Oh Hell is a classic trick-taking card game of British origin in which the main objective is to take exactly the number of tricks bid. It was said to be first described in the 1930s as Oh! Well.
Each game begins with four to six players, with everyone being dealt the same amount of cards. All players will take turns placing a card face-up on the table, and the person who has the highest card and manages to collect all cards wins, which is already equivalent to one trick.
As aforementioned, players should accurately predict how many tricks they can win or lose some points. One tip is not to bid too high because playing to lose a trick is much easier than winning it, especially if you have already won more tricks than what you bid.
Skull King is focused more on bidding, which takes place simultaneously, so there might be under or over-bids in each round. Like Oh Hell, players will also make a bid before the game begins, and they must try to state how many tricks they think they can win each round.
Basics of Skull King for newbies:
- Players must win the exact number of tricks they initially bid.
- The game uses a 66-card deck with four suits from 1-13, five Escape cards, five Pirate cards, one Tigress, and one Skull King card.
- There are only ten rounds, and players receive as many cards as the number of the round.
Standard trick-taking mechanics are followed by Skull King, where a player must lead by playing a card, and others must follow suit as much as possible. If players win the exact amount of tricks, they win 20 points. If they win more or less, then they lose ten points.
A trick-taking card game mostly played in social settings, Euchre is a trick-taking card game that provides an interesting variation over regular card games due to its subtle competitive strategy, which requires players to be more attentive.
Every Euchre game is composed of two teams with two players each, and it requires only 24 cards instead of the standard 52-card deck by taking the card’s ace through 9. After that, all players will receive five cards. Cards are played one at a time, and the player who lays the highest card, unless a trump was played, gets all four cards and is stacked in front of them, thus winning a trick.
In this game, you win a hand and score points for taking the majority of tricks in a hand. It means winning three or more of the five tricks available. If you get five tricks, you score an additional point.
A modern trick-taking card game with a fairytale-inspired theme, Fox in the Forest is a two-player game where players can bluff or trick their opponents and win, but only by taking tricks strategically. The main objective of this game is to take precisely the number of tricks stated before each round.
As you play Fox in the Forest, you will notice special powers on some cards. For instance, you’ll encounter fairy cards like the Fox and the Witch. These will allow you to change the trump suit or lead even if you lose a trick, and so much more.
Some features to anticipate:
- It has an enticing and immersive storyline following the witch, woodcutter, swan, fox, and monarch.
- Designed for two players only
- Customizable rules and eight tricky challenges
A favourite among the American crown, Spades is well-known for being easy to play but with enough challenge to keep every player on edge. It’s best played as a partnership card game, and players will attempt to take as many tricks as possible in each round.
Here, the trump card is always any card from the Spades suit, and the goal is to take the number of tricks bid before the game begins. The game is always played with a 52-card deck with one or two Jokers removed.
Generally, the first player to win 500 points wins. However, it can be changed depending on the player’s preferences. These points are accrued by winning the number of tricks predicted at the start of each game and its in-house rule.
Last but not least is Tichu, which is a unique spin-off of the Chinese trick-taking game Zheng Fen. Like Spades, it’s a partnership game where players lead with single cards, straights, pairs or greater sets, sequences of pairs or full houses.
Basics of Tichu to remember:
- Get rid of hands while scoring points in the process
- It uses a 52-card deck with dog, phoenix, dragon, and Mah Jong special cards added
- Players must beat the previous top card combination or pass
- If the play passes to the player who played the current card combination, they win a trick
Some cards score points, while some don’t. The best bet is through a bidding mechanism, which means calling on “Tichu” if they think they’re the first to get rid of their hand.
Trick-taking card games will never lose their charm as they continue to capture the attention of players worldwide. From classic games like Oh Hell and Euchre to modern ones like Fox in the Forest and Skull King, there are many to choose from.
Whether you prefer strategy over luck or enjoy playing with friends or family, these games provide endless opportunities for fun and competition. Gather your loved ones or play online with others, and start bidding and taking tricks in these exciting card games!