Please recommend trick-taking style card games for group of varying size
David G.
United States
Moorpark
California
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I'm having some friends over for cards Saturday and I'm looking to play something besides poker. I'm looking for the "trick-taking" style card games, but it doesn't need to be reserved to those. What I'm _not_ looking for are things like Bohnanza and San Juan. Those games would just be "too different" for them.

These aren't gamers.

Hearts is a great game, but I'm not sure we're going to be at 4 players. Thinking also of Cribbage and Oh Hell. Those with a standard deck of cards would be nice because I don't have a lot of time to go buy a game, and it'll limit the "fear factor" of something that's different.

Note that by "trick-taking style" game, I meant really 'traditional card game', I guess. I'm looking for card games that would be good to introduce to people that are used to playing traditional card games.
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1. Board Game: Hearts [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1810]
Board Game: Hearts
David G.
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Moorpark
California
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How does this play with varying group sizes?
 
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2. Board Game: Oh Hell! [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:2074]
Board Game: Oh Hell!
David G.
United States
Moorpark
California
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I'm pretty sure this accommodates different size groups well. Not too complex, but still some strategy involved.
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3. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:614] [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
Board Game: Cribbage
David G.
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Moorpark
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I think one of us has a Cribbage board. A couple of the guys coming know this, so games that are similar might go over well.
 
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4. Board Game: Mü & More [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:1145]
Board Game: Mü & More
Ryan McLelland
United States
Draper
Utah
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Fantastic game. Works well for various sizes. I prefer it with 5, but have played with 4 and 6, and I believe it can work with 3.

Easily one of the best trick takers around.
 
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5. Board Game: Wizard [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:741]
Board Game: Wizard
Gary Weinfurther
United States
West Bloomfield
Michigan
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Excellent game, one of our favorites. The Wizards and the Jesters make this more than just a simple bidding and trick-taking game. Plays well with 3 to 6.

Very easy to learn!

(I like Mu and Mehr a lot, but it is quite complex. Wizard, on the other hand, is merely a variation of Oh Hell with extra spice.)
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6. Board Game: Spades [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1654]
Board Game: Spades
Gary Weinfurther
United States
West Bloomfield
Michigan
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Spades is a trick-taking game with fairly simple rules, but requires skillful bidding and play to win.
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7. Board Game: Frank's Zoo [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1497]
Board Game: Frank's Zoo
Charles Hasegawa
United States
Chandler
Arizona
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While slightly different, its still a trick taking game and the animals make it look like its easy to figure out. This has enough depth and plays a good variation of players.
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8. Board Game: Schafkopf [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:3732]
Board Game: Schafkopf
Gary H
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Milwaukee
Wisconsin
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This can play from 3 to 7 players. Six and seven handed is actually five handed with the dealer sitting (or dealer and person next to them). Hands are quick, so usually, if it's 6 or 7, someone can make a bathroom and/or beer run. Plays varying partners, as well.
 
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9. Board Game: Xactika [Average Rating:5.77 Overall Rank:9058]
Board Game: Xactika
Mike Cooper
United States
Lewisville
Texas
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Xactika (from the same people who make Set) plays from 2-10 people. In actuality, there are 12 suits (1-3 of each of 4 shapes). Follow the suit and hope you have a big enough count to take the trick, although there *are* some unbeatable cards you can lead with.

The object is to make your bid *exactly*. Do that, and you get that many points. Miss it, and you subtract whatever the difference is between what you bid and what you actually took - even if you went over.

I'm still working out the bidding intracacies, though.
 
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10. Board Game: Canyon [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:4010]
Board Game: Canyon

Greer
South Carolina
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Canyon is essentially Wizard with a board and some nifty moving mechanisms. I don't know how well a board would translate for non-gamers, but consider it when you make your decision. I enjoy it every time we play it.
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11. Board Game: Sluff Off! [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:1336]
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South Carolina
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This is closest to Spades, when compared to traditional trick-taking games, but it adds the joy of being evil to other players. Depending on how well your non-gamer friends take to a little healthy confrontation, you might have a big hit on your hands.
 
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12. Board Game: Original Card Games [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked]
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Dean
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Ottawa
Ontario
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(I have no idea if it's in the item I listed or not...)

Nine-Five-Two is my favourite 3-player card game that uses a standard deck of cards. Great time filler, but it's pretty rare to actually finish a game.

Rules: The dealer deals out a hand of 16 cards to each player. Those with math skills will realize that this leaves four cards left. These are placed in the kitty.

The dealer looks at his hand and declares the trump suit. He then looks at the kitty and can exchange cards in his hand for cards in the kitty -- from none to four as he wishes.

The player to the left of the dealer leads the first card. Play continues clockwise, with players following suit if possible. Highest card takes the trick (aces high, standard trump rules). The dealer can also declare 'no trump' if he wishes.

Each player is trying to get a number of tricks. This is different depending on position. The dealer is trying to score 9 tricks, the player to his left needs 5 and the third player is looking for 2 (hence the name of the game).

I've played with two scoring methods. The first is to keep track of the number of tricks you take compared to your goal and score the difference. The winner is the first to 10. It's harder than it sounds. The second is 'scoreless', and whoever exceeded their goal gets to swap a card with whomever missed their goal on a one-card-for-one point basis. The player who was 'over' gives a card to the player who was 'under'. The 'under' player is then obligated to hand over the highest card of that suit to the 'over' player. The winner is the first to win all 16 tricks in a hand. Again, it's tougher than it sounds.

If you can stand a game that may never end, it's a good three player deal.

 
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13. Board Game: Briscola [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:5502]
Board Game: Briscola
An Italian favourite. Although the standard rules are teamplay for four players, it can handle from 2 to 6 people. The cards are different, but there's nothing special about them, so you could use a standard deck.
 
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14. Board Game: Rook [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2281]
Board Game: Rook
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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Rook has a great 5p variant: Keep scores individually. The player who bids the highest on each hand calls out any card he doesn't have. The player holding that card becomes his/her partner for that round against the other 3 players. If no one has the card, then it is in the nest, and the high bidder plays alone against the other four. Some interesting dynamics happen. For example, if you end up on the high bidder's team this hand, but winning the hand will allow the high bidder to win the game, then YOU want to lose the hand and must play poorly. Great stuff.
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15. Board Game: Stick 'Em [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:981]
Board Game: Stick 'Em
Chuck Shick
United States
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I know a lot of people who mostly only play poker. Sticheln and Oh Hell! are the games that have worked the best with them. Sticheln is a pretty nasty little game and scales great from 3-6.
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16. Board Game: Rage [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:3192]
Board Game: Rage
Get up, get up, get up, get down, fall over.
United Kingdom
Bolton
Lancashire
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I have seen James Davies 'rage' (or should that be rave) about this in a few threads. It seems almost identical to my favourite 4 player game with a standard pack of cards. Only difference is there are 110 cards and it scales to 10.
 
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17. Board Game: Mit List und Tücke [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:5496]
Board Game: Mit List und Tücke
Robert
United States
West Union
West Virginia
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This game is not complex, but plays very interestingly (neat changes from standard trick strategy/play) and works very well with 6 people (five is also good, haven't tried with four). You can print the rules from the files section, and play with any four suit deck that gives you enough cards for the number of players you have: six: 4x1-21, five: 2x1-18 and 2x1-17, four: 4x1-14.

If you have Sticheln, you can augment a fourth color with two more cards to get the proper range (0-20) for full six-way. Two decks of regular cards could also work if you mark one deck's cards as "and a half" and mix appropriately.
 
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18. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:159]
Board Game: Tichu
Robert
United States
West Union
West Virginia
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For poker/trick players, this is another excellent option. If you go over the rules well beforehand, you can make the game pretty simple (make mini-references for what can be played, what gets points, and what the special cards do), and there is a lot of interesting play. Best with four but also fun with six.

You use one deck of standard cards, with jokers from it and another deck with matching backs. Make the jokers the four specials: Mah Jong, Dog, Pheonix, and Dragon. To play with six you should add a second non-joker/special deck with different backs (I don't know if the different backs have much game relevance besides making it easy to split the decks back down to the four player set).
 
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19. Board Game: Cosmic Eidex [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:3293]
Board Game: Cosmic Eidex
Robert
United States
West Union
West Virginia
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Actually a Jass variant for exactly three, you can download the rules and quick-ref from the files section (note not all the ref sheets include the +5 for capturing last trick) and play with standard cards (using Ace down to 6).

Even without bringing in the "cosmic powers" for players, this is probably the best standard-esque card game I know for three (Flashenteuffel/Bottle Imp would be another good choice, but it's tricky to construct from standard decks).
 
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20. Board Game: David & Goliath [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2448]
Board Game: David & Goliath
Excellently juicy and strongly counter-intuitive. High cards are good, low cards are good, and middle cards are great to duck with. Delightful and probably best with 4 players.
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21. Board Game: 6 nimmt! [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:599]
Board Game: 6 nimmt!
James Davis
Australia
Canberra
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6 nimmt, Im not sure if its a 'trick taking game' but it is very easy to teach and play, but actually has lots of thinking invlolved. It can be played from 2 - 10 player so it fits the bill for you.
 
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22. Board Game: Was sticht? [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2689]
Board Game: Was sticht?
Ting Pong IP
Hong Kong
Lai Chi Kok
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This is an interesting trick-taking game with drafting, deduction and bidding. The components are quite language depedent (though easy to differentitate).
 
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23. Board Game: Mao [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:14071]
Board Game: Mao
Dean
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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You can give Mao a try, if at least one person in the group knows the rules. I'd elaborate, but I've already said too much.
 
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24. Board Game: 500 [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:3372]
Board Game: 500
Dean
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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Simple trick taking game that can be played with a standard deck. A bit like a cross between Euchre and Bridge. It has both Bauers and contract bidding.
 
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25. Board Game: Canasta [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:3182]
Board Game: Canasta
Dean
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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Canasta, of course, fits the bill.
 
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