Trick Taking Games

I'm creating this page in hopes that our resident trick-taking experts will drizzle it with their wisdom.



All right, the trick [so to speak. -Ed.] with games like Zoff_im_Zoo? (Frank's Zoo), The_Great_Dalmuti?, President, etc...

Here is the primary principle in the game: Little cards are very hard to play out of your hand.

Either you get really lucky, and someone right before you goes out or plays somthing smaller, or you have to lead in order to get them out. "Little cards" in Frank's Zoo means cards at the bottom of the food chain. [In Dalmuti, by contrast, the "little cards" are the higher-numbered, more numerous ones.]

Big cards (at the top of the food chain, like Orcas [or lower-numbered, like The Great Dalmuti, or invincible like the Wizard]), are good for getting the lead for the purpose of playing out your little cards. That is what they are for. The best hand is the one with almost no low cards, not just with high cards.

If you have as many "big" things as you do little cards, you are well set to go out. That is, you figure you can take the lead one time with an Orca, another time with a pair of Polar Bears, and whatever, and then use those leads to play your little stuff.

In that position, you should try for the win. Otherwise, you need to either wait to get lucky and be able to play a low card, or wait until lots of the big stuff is gone (and a couple of people are out), and then your "somewhat big" stuff becomes big enough to get the lead. Then you can get in and get rid of your low stuff.

If you play big cards and don't get the lead, you are hurting yourself, unless you have only big cards left, or still have plenty of big ones to cover your low ones [or unless you are penalized for cards remaining in your hand, as in certain versions of Big_Two?].

You need big cards to cover your low ones. If you are hurting for big cards, you do NOT want to play the ones you have, and have them beaten, and be left with only low ones. You will lose that way. You need to wait until lots of the big ones are gone (and count cards), until you think yours are good enough (probably a couple people will be out), and then try for a middle position.

You need to figure out early on whether you are playing to go out at the front, with a good hand, or playing to go out in the middle, after a lot of the big cards are gone, and your moderately high ones become winners.

Frank's Zoo throws some extra elements in with the special animals scoring and the strange food chain (not just 2 through Ace like most of these games). But the prime principle remains.

Generally the biggest mistake people make is that they play big cards when they can't afford to lose them, and have those cards beaten by someone else.

--Alex_Rockwell?, reprinted from the seattle-cosmic mailing list and edited, both without permission.

Here are some examples of trick-taking games:

Other trick-taking games that are also BiddingGame``s, where the object may or may not include throwing high or low: