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Variation:

The game plays as a normal (whist is a very basic trick-taking game) with the last card dealt face-up to determine the trump suit. The variation is simply this -- the other suit with the same color as the trump suit is now the "point suit". So if hearts is trump, then diamonds is point, if clubs is trump then spades is point, etc.

New Rule A: You get points at the end not by how many tricks your partnership takes, but by how many point-suited cards your partnership has taken (This rule is borrowed from hearts).

Also, to prevent the partners with high point suits from dominating the game early, the "breaking hearts" rule is used, whereby you cannot lead with a point suit until a point suit has been discarded.

New Rule B: If you lead with a point suit, then any other suit can trump it. (Trump will trump non-trump trumps, obviously).

(Personal Note: This variation also makes use of the fact that there are four suits but only two colors in a traditional deck, which always bothered me a little.)

Questions:

  1. Are there any problems with this variation which make it unplayable, or unbalanced?

  2. Is there a way to exploit the rules, or a way to play where understanding the rules more deeply conveys an advantage?

  3. Does this variation add to the complexity and fun of the game, or is it merely a complication which adds nothing unique or interesting to standard whist?

  4. Would the game play better with only one of the rules rather than both?

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    I voted to close because it's not a Q & A so much as a discussion, but I personally prefer these opinion questions to remain if possible, so maybe a nice middle zone is, for these types, to do a large amount of diligence analyzing the pros and cons or the ways in which the variant changes the dynamics, then post the question as asking whether the game is balanced or how lopsided it becomes or something more pointed? Just a thought. – Joey Jul 9 '15 at 20:56
  • @Joey Thanks for your thoughts. I've taken your recommendations and modified the question accordingly for your review. – ridthyself Jul 12 '15 at 16:20
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    To me it looks like only play-testing with big enough group of play testers can answer these questions. – Andrew Savinykh Jul 16 '15 at 8:51
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    If you are looking to distinguish the four suits more clearly, why not try Auction Bridge (simpler than Contract Bridge) or Bid Whist. Check out links here: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/25644/… – Forget I was ever here Aug 21 '15 at 14:53
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After some play-testing with friends, the complexity was intimidating, and so we settled on these rules:

The last card is dealt face up, and it is the point suit.

There is no trump suit.

You cannot lead with a point suit until a point suited card has been discarded.

When a point suit is led, any other card can trump it.

The results were interesting: Once players caught on to the game, they would discard points often rather than hording them, hoping their partners can pick them back up. Teamwork seemed more vital in this variation than any trick taking game I've played.

It turned out that having a both trump suit AND an anti-trump suit was an unnecessary complication. The goal was to acquire point-cards which could be trumped by any card, and so having a trump suit felt superfluous.

Alternatively, we played the following variation:

The trump suit is the last card dealt, the point suit is the other suit of the same color as the trump suit.

The point suit cannot be led until a point suited card has been discarded.

The point suit is a normal suit, and is not trumped by any suit except the Trump suit.

This variation worked well, and it satisfied my requirement that the game make use of the fact that there are four suits but only two colors.

However the first variation in this answer seemed more fun. I'm not sure why.

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