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My favorite bids in Spades are the riskiest ones: 10-for-2, nil, and blind nil. 10-for-2 is always worth 200 points, and most rule sets I've seen put nil at 100 and blind nil at 200.

In our group, we eventually had to put restrictions on these bids because they were making it too easy for people to catch up from being behind, which was diluting the value of solid play in less dramatic rounds:

  • no bids of 10-for-2 or blind nil unless the bidding team is down by at least 100 points
  • only one bid of blind nil per team per game
  • players do not get to trade two cards if someone calls blind nil

What other house-rules do people suggest for limiting the bomb effect of these three bids, or alternatively, do you not agree that it is a problem?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The variation that my game group played for years and loved was this:

  • 50 points for a nil (no passing)
  • 100 for blind nil (2 cards passing)
  • Can only go blind-nil if the team is 100 points behind
  • Suicide: one person on each team MUST go nil.
  • Minimum bid 4 (even if you first say 2 and your partner's bid is nil, your team-bid is 4).
  • You only score your nil if your team makes its bid.

This makes the blind option just a catch-up option, and keep the game competitive. suicide works because often while trying to cover your partner you end up covering the other guy's nil. Finally, the minimum bid rule pretty much enforces playing good cards well, and not turning it into a game of chicken with the other team (a problem with normal suicide).

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Passing 2 on blind-nil is still way too easy in my book :) –  lilserf Feb 26 '11 at 21:43
    
Yeah, hence the come from behind only rule. The game's inherently random, so when the scores got too far out of synch we knew it was due to bad luck not skill, and the blind thing was a bit of fun to fix it, but, for sure, we thought hard about taking that 4th trick or sluffing it when 60 points behind... –  Neal Tibrewala Feb 26 '11 at 23:15
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Nice to see a spades question here. I used to play spades a lot around 2003 but haven't played at all recently.

I generally hate blind-nils and we used to outlaw those. I used to discuss scoring with people a lot and we generally felt the nil-bonus of 100 was far too high, as the game just became dominated by nil-bidding. I felt 70 was a reasonable nil-score. 50 was suggested.

The "must be X points behind" rule means that you can't catch usually the other team on this board even if you succeed, and you certainly can't win the game instantly with it. It also means a team can try to ensure they don't go too far ahead.

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I think lilserf's suggestion is the best way to go - either eliminate passing altogether or limit it to that one worst case scenario.

But, as another alternative, if your group has gotten "nil-happy," perhaps you could try the "suicide" variation on Spades where one partner from each team is forced to go nil every round. It wouldn't eliminate the large point swings, but perhaps it would better fit some of the player's playing style in your group. Certainly changes the dynamic of the game and it's fun to mix it up every now and then.

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The main rule I strongly endorse is that you only trade ONE card, on blind-nil bids only. No trading cards in any other situation - the only purpose is to avoid the "oops, guy going blind nil has the Ace of Spades" case which makes the whole round more or less pointless.

Other than that I have also frequently played with a "must be X points behind" rule on blind nil. Is it really happening (successfully) so often that it overshadows all else?

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