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Subject: How to play Vira rss

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Raymond Gallardo
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The Vira rules on pagat.com are the most authoritative in the English language. The following rules are shorter and slightly altered so they're easier to learn.
Players
Three
Equipment

* Standard deck of 52 cards

* Scoring chips in denominations of 1, 2, and 8 points. Each player has a set of scoring chips of a different colour

* A small container, which is called the pot. Players take from or pay the pot points whether they win or lose a contract, respectively. At the beginning of the game, the pot starts empty. When a player must take points out of the pot because they won a contract and the pot is empty, then all players contribute 8 points to the pot.
- Alternatively, keep track of scores on paper and add an extra column to keep track of the contents of the pot or use one of the alternative bidding tables.

* Bidding table: Three are three available:
- Bidding table: Uses standard scoring procedures; the rules that follow use this table.
- Vira table, no pot, extra notes. Use if you're scoring with paper and pencil. In this table, players pay each other only; players no longer take from or pay the pot. See the section "Alternative Rules" for information about how to use this table.
- Vira table, decimal. Similar to the previous table, but point values have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 5. Unlike the previous table, this changes the game as the scoring is slightly different because of the rounding. See the section "Alternative Rules."

* A small pawn or a Euro cube to keep track of the highest bid

* A clock! Before you start playing, agree on a time when you want to stop playing. Once that time arrives, keep on playing until each player has been dealer an equal number of times.

Summary
Players receive a hand of 13 cards. The 13 undealt cards is the stock. Players hold an auction; whoever bids the highest ranked contract is the declarer and plays against the other two. Contracts involve either winning a certain number of tricks with a trump suit or losing all tricks without a trump suit. Depending on the contract, the declarer may buy cards from the stock. This means discarding a certain number of cards from your hand, then drawing the same number of cards from the stock. Then the declarer's opponents get to buy cards (provided that there are cards left in the stock). Players play cards to tricks like in Whist or Bridge.
Deal
The dealer deals a hand of 13 cards to each player and sets the 13 undealt cards aside, face down; this is the stock.
Auction
Forehand, the player after the dealer, starts the auction. Forehand cannot pass.

During the auction, you must either make a higher bid than the previous one or pass. If you pass, you may not bid again.

If you're forehand, you can "hold" or bid the same bid as the previous player. If you're middlehand (the player after forehand) you can hold the dealer's bid (once forehand has passed).

The previous player bid gök. I'm not allowed to pass? Yes that's correct; you're forced to bid, with one exception. See Additional rules.

To bid, place the pawn on any grey square on the bidding table. To make a higher bid, move the pawn to any grey square that's:
* To the right on the same row
* Anywhere on a lower row

Once two players have passed, the remaining player is the declarer and plays their contract against the other two, who play as a team.

The bid table is divided into six sections; each section features a different kind of contract. As declarer, you follow a different procedure depending on the type of contract:

* Basic contracts
* Solo contracts
* Gambling contracts
* Misère contracts
* Solo misère contracts
* Gask, gök (cuckoo), and vira contracts
Basic contracts
Begär (6-spel); 7, 8, 9-spel

Positive contract name and goal: The number in the name is the number of tricks you must win
Spades or clubs as trump
Diamonds as trump
Hearts as trump
Number of cards you must buy

The number in the grey circle is the contract rank; the higher the number, the higher the rank.

The number in a trump bid square is number of points you receive from or pay to each opponent.

Procedure
1. Pick a trump suit that's in the same column or a column to the right of the pawn. More specifically, this is what you can pick as trump depending on the pawn's location:
*
column: Pick any suit as trump
*
column: Pick diamonds or hearts as trump
*
column: Pick only hearts as trump
Move the pawn right so that it's in the same column as your chosen trump suit.

2. Buy cards: Discard face down any number of cards from your hand, then draw the same amount of cards from the stock and add them to your hand.

What if the cards I drew from the stock suck? Can I buy cards again? Yes, you can! See Additional Rules.

What if the cards I drew from the stock suck so much that I don't even want to play out the hand? Can I give up? Yes, you can! See Additional Rules.

3. Each opponent, starting with the player after the declarer, buys any number of cards.

Solo contracts
Solo 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, vira

They're just like basic contracts but only your opponents get to buy cards.

Positive contract name and goal: The number in the name is the number of tricks you must win; solo vira is a bid to win all 13 tricks
Spades or clubs as trump
Diamonds as trump
Hearts as trump

Procedure
1. Optionally upgrade your contract. You can pick any higher ranked solo contract. Move your pawn down so it's in the same row as your preferred contract.

2. Pick a trump suit that's in the same column or a column to the right of the pawn. Move the pawn right so that it's in the same column as your chosen trump suit.

3. Each opponent, starting with the player after the declarer, buys any number of cards.

Gambling contracts
Turné (single) 6, 7, 8; vingel (double) 6, 7, 8; tringel (triple) 9

They're like the basic game except the trump suit is randomly determined. They're colloquially called gambling contracts because the potential gains and losses are much higher than the rest of the bids!

Positive contract name and goal: The number in the name is the number of tricks you must win
Number of cards to turn face up from the stock: You pick a trump suit among these cards
Spades or clubs as trump
Diamonds as trump
Hearts as trump
Number of cards you must buy

Procedure
1. Turn face up from the stock the number of cards indicated in the
column. Among the suits shown in these cards, pick the trump suit. Move the pawn right so that it's in the same column as your chosen trump suit.

2. Buy cards. Announce the number of cards you want to buy. The minimum value is the number of cards you turned face up. Discard from your hand the number you announced, then draw the same amount from the stock, starting with the cards you turned face up.

What if the cards I drew (or flipped) from the stock suck? Can I buy cards again? Yes, you can! See Additional Rules.

3. Each opponent, starting with the player after the declarer, buys any number of cards.

Misère contracts
Köpmisär på 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Misère contract name and number of cards you must buy
Misère contract: Number of tricks you must lose; a white number means that you must put your hand face up on the table before the first trick
Contract value: Number of points you receive from or pay to each opponent from winning or losing the misère contract

Note: There's no trump suit in misère contracts.

Procedure
1. Optionally upgrade your contract. You can pick any higher ranked misère (but not solo misère) contract. Move your pawn down so it's in the same row as your preferred contract.

2. Buy exactly the number of cards indicated in the bid's name.

3. Discard 2 or 1 cards from your hand depending on whether your contract requires you to lose 11 or 12 tricks, respectively. Your opponents will have extra, unplayed cards in their hands at the end of the round.

4. Each opponent, starting with the player after the declarer, buys any number of cards.

Solo misère contracts
Solo petite/grande misär (ouverte (royale))

They're just like misère contracts but only your opponents get to buy cards.

Note: There's no trump suit in solo misère contracts.

Procedure
1. If the contract requires you to lose 12 tricks, then discard 1 card from your hand. Your opponents will have extra, unplayed cards in their hands at the end of the round.

2. Each opponent, starting with the player after the declarer, buys any number of cards.

3. If contract name contains the word "ouverte", then place your hand face up on the table. You'll be playing with your hand exposed for the entire round.

What is "royal" in a solo misère contract? See Additional Rules.

Gask, gök (Cuckoo), and vira contracts
Gask på 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 5; gök; vira

These contracts involve taking the entire stock. They are much more powerful than they appear; you get to see half the deck before play begins.

Contract name
Number of cards to discard: Discard exactly the number of cards specified, then add the entire stock to your hand, then discard down to 13 cards
Positive contract: Number of tricks you must win
Misère contract: Number of tricks you must lose; a white number means that you must put your hand face up on the table before the first trick
Spade or clubs as trump, or misère contract
Diamonds as trump
Hearts as trump

Procedure
1. Discard from your hand face down exactly the number of cards indicated in the
column. Then add the entire stock to your hand. Discard back down to 13 cards.

2. Declare if you want to play a positive contract or a misère contract.

Note:
* There's no trump suit in gök or misère contracts.
* Gask på 6, gask på 5, and vira are positive contracts only; gök is a misère contract only.


2a. If you're playing a positive contract, then pick a trump suit that's in the same column or a column to the right of the pawn. Move the pawn right so that it's in the same column as your chosen trump suit.

2b. If you're playing a misère contract and if it requires you to lose 11 or 12 tricks, then discard 2 or 1 cards, respectively, from your hand. Note: You cannot pick a misère contract if you bid diamonds or hearts as trump.

3. If you're playing a misère contract and the number that represents the number of tricks you must lose is white, then place your hand face up on the table. You'll be playing with your hand exposed for the entire round.

Play
Forehand (the player after the dealer) plays the first card, or leads, by playing one card face up.

Play is exactly like Whist. Cards rank, from highest to lowest: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. You may lead any card. Other players, in turn, play one card. They must follow suit (play a card of the same suit as the first card played). If they are unable to follow suit, then they may play any card. Once all players have played one card, determine who wins all the cards played, which is called a trick. The highest trump card wins the trick. If no one played trump, then the highest ranked card of the suit led wins the trick. The trick winner gathers all the cards played, creates a face-down pile from them, and places it from of themself. Players arrange their won tricks so that everyone knows exactly how many tricks that they won. The trick winner leads to the next trick.
Payment

There are two halves in this table; use only the half labelled 1º.

If you won your contract:

1. Each opponent pays you, in points, the number underneath the pawn.

2. You take from the pot the number of points indicated in the
column. If there are not enough points in the pot, then each player contributes 8 points to it before you take from the pot.

If you lost your contract:

1. You pay each opponent, in points, the number underneath the pawn.

2a. If you lost your contract by one trick, then you pay the pot the number of points indicated in the
column.

2b. If you lost your contract by two or more tricks, then you pay the pot the number of points indicated in the
column.

What's the purpose of the second half of the table labelled 2º? See the section, "What if the cards I drew from the stock suck? Can I buy cards again?" in Additional rules.
Game end
Divide any points in the pot equally among players. Any odd points go to the player who lost the most.
Additional rules

The previous player bid gök. I'm not allowed to pass?

Yes, that's correct; you're forced to bid with one exception: You must hold two low guards (låggarder) of different suits to pass. A low guard is a set of up to four cards in one suit which, if led in succession, would be certain to lose a trick against a player holding the rest of the suit. Thus, the suit holdings listed in the image to the right are low guards. If you pass, then the next player can only pass if they hold one low guard.

However, you can still pass if you don't hold the prerequisite number of low guards. But if the declarer wins gök, then you must pay a penalty of 8 points to the pot!

Note: Stockholm players allow five-card low guards. They define low guards differently, but it's easier to remember:
2
4 x
6 x x
8 x x x
10 x x x x

In other words, a low guard is any 2, a 4 with one card of the same suit lower than it, a 6 with two cards of the same suit lower than it, and so on up to 10.


What if the cards I drew (or flipped) from the stock suck? Can I buy cards again?

Yes, you can! This is called a second buy:

1. Pay each of your opponents, in points, the number underneath the pawn.

2. Buy cards again according to the rules of your contract.

3. During the payment phase, you use the Second buy column instead of the First buy column to determine how much you take from or pay the pot.

If your contract is turné, vingel, or tringel:

1. Ensure that you already picked a trump suit! Then pay each of your opponents, in points, the number underneath the pawn.

2. Flip 1, 2, or 3 cards, depending on your contract; choose a trump suit; then buy cards as before.

3. During the payment phase, you use the second half of the table labelled "2º" to determine how much you take from or pay the pot.

Note: You can perform a second buy only if there are at least 2 (turné), 3 (vingel), or 4 (tringel) cards left in the stock! It's because you aren't allowed to flip the last card of the stock for trump!

What if the cards I drew from the stock suck so much that I don't even want to play out the hand? Can I give up?

Yes, you can! This is called surrendering. You pay your opponents and the pot as if you lost a game by one trick (the
column).

You can surrender a solo or solo misère contract, but you pay your opponents and the pot as if you lost a game by two tricks (the
column).

What is "royal" in a solo misère contract?

Royal means you expose your hand before your opponents buy cards. In addition, your opponents may discuss their strategy, including how to buy cards, and show each other their hands!
Omitted Rules

Playing with four players
Often, four players play Vira. During each hand, only three players play; the player before the dealer doesn't play.

Using two decks of cards instead of one, like in Bridge
Players use two decks when playing Vira; while dealer deals out one deck, middlehand shuffles the other deck, then places it upside down so that the bottom card is exposed. The suit of this card is the preferred suit. In the next hand, the dealer takes the face up deck, flips it over, gets middlehand to cut it, then deals it out.

Suit hierarchy changes from hand to hand
In these rules, the preferred suit is permanent; in this case, it's hearts. In the actual rules, the preferred suit is randomly chosen each round. Bidding with the actual rules has a different nomenclature:

* A bid without a trump suit mentioned = Placing the pawn in the spades/clubs square

* A bid in colour, which means that you want trump to be the same colour as the preference suit = Placing the pawn in the diamonds square

* A bid in preference, which means you want trump to be the preference suit = Placing the pawn in the hearts square.

Slightly more concise bidding
The level of each bid is the number that's associated with it. You usually don't mention the bid's level for solo, gask and köpmisär. It's assumed that you've bid the next highest contract.

Aces can be low in one situation
If you hold all four Aces and you bid a negative contract, you can declare them low (ranking below the 2) before the first trick.

Timing of second buy payment
If you performed a second buy, you pay your opponents for that opportunity at the end of the hand rather than at the moment you performed the second buy.

Why there's a cow's head in the pot payment table
When you fail a contract by 2 or more tricks, it's called kodilj (which is probably taken from codille, a term from Ombre). In Swedish, ko means cow in English. Hence, the payment table uses a cow's head for the column indicating what you must pay the pot if you fail your contract by 2 or more tricks.


Alternative Rules

Playing Vira without the pot
Paying the pot 8 points is exactly the same as giving each opponent 2-2/3 points. And conversely, taking 8 points from the pot is exactly the same as each opponent paying you 2-2/3 points.

In Vira table, no pot, extra notes, you no longer take from or pay the pot. You instead receive from or pay your opponents the 8 points (or 16 or 24 for some of the gambling contracts); these points are all integrated into the main table. Note: Values have been multiplied by 3 to remove all the fractions. The table in the lower left corner are points you win or lose in addition to the points in the main table.

There's a slight procedural change with this table. When you perform a second buy, you pay each of your opponents as if you lost the contract by one trick. If you manage to succeed after a second buy, then the lower left table will provide you with a partial reimbursement.

Try using this table if you're using pencil-and-paper to score; you won't have to maintain a separate column for the pot. In addition, this table makes scoring more transparent; there's no pot to hide any points lost in the game!

If you want to use scoring chips, use denominations of 3, 6, 8, and 24. All the point values in the main table are a sum of 8 (or 16 or 24 for the higher valued gambling contracts) plus an amount divisible by 3. The table shows how the higher valued gambling contracts were derived; use Vira table without the pot if you don't want this extra text.

If you prefer your scores to be divisible by 5, then use Vira table, decimal. The values in this table have been multiplied by 1.25 and rounded to the nearest multiple of 5. Unlike the previous tables, this does change the game as the scores are slightly different because numbers have been rounded.
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Peter
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You've done an exceptional job, Raymond. Reviewed this and the updated table again today. I have a couple friends in mind now who I think Vira might work with. I need to get the updated table printed out and on hand. Do you usually teach the game with hearts as the fixed preference suit?
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Raymond Gallardo
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Hi Peter,
pwinckles wrote:
You've done an exceptional job, Raymond. Reviewed this and the updated table again today. I have a couple friends in mind now who I think Vira might work with. I need to get the updated table printed out and on hand. Do you usually teach the game with hearts as the fixed preference suit?
Thanks for the words of appreciation!

Yes, I teach the game with hearts as the fixed preference suit. And I also play with just one deck of cards, not two. The official shuffling process with two decks (as described on pagat.com) is confusing! When my friends deal out the cards, they deal out four hands of thirteen (one hand becomes the stock), one card at a time, like Bridge. I deal the hands out the Swedish way, in packets of 4-3-3-3 so that each hand looks like four overlapping rows of cards, and then I count the cards in the stock to ensure that there are 13 cards. When I played it in Stockholm, you have to pay 8 points to the pot if you misdeal!

BTW, the link to the bidding table on this page is the latest version -- it's smaller than the one I posted as a file on BGG, but if you cut off the margins, you can fold it up along certain grid lines so that it's the size of a standard Poker card. (But if you prefer the larger one, let me know and I'll add a link to that.)

Out of curiosity, will you improvise scoring chips, or will you keep track of scores with paper and pencil?

Good luck with Vira with your group!
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Peter
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rayzg wrote:
Out of curiosity, will you improvise scoring chips, or will you keep track of scores with paper and pencil?
When I played last year (the only time I've played to date), we used poker chips, using colors to map to the traditional denominations rather than to indicate whose they are. Since you converted all of the points to pinnar in the table (and understandably so), I was thinking of just trying pen and paper next time.

I don't have an opinion about the size of the table at this point, but I'll let you know if I ever do.
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Nathan Sorenson
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rayzg wrote:
If you prefer your scores to be divisible by 5, then use Vira table, decimal.
Would the simplified scoring work if you again divided by 5 for smaller whole numbers, or is the absolute value important?
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Raymond Gallardo
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takeoutweight wrote:
rayzg wrote:
If you prefer your scores to be divisible by 5, then use Vira table, decimal.
Would the simplified scoring work if you again divided by 5 for smaller whole numbers, or is the absolute value important?
I think that's a wonderful idea!
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