To anyone experienced in whist variations, are the following house rules playable? (that is, will this game be fun or frustrating to play)?

I'm developing a nutty variation of Spades for tonight, is there some gaping hole that I'm not seeing that'll ruin the game?

Here are the rules:


Suits – A Whist variant by RID “where every suit is trump, and partners hate each other”

Dealing, Bidding, and Partnerships:

A standard deck of 52 cards is dealt face down such that each of 4 players around a table receives 13 cards. Beginning with the player to the dealer’s left, and proceeding clockwise, each player, having examined their cards privately, makes a bid.

The bid consists of two parts, a unique trump suit declaration, and the number of “tricks” that player expects to take. Each player bids once, choosing from the suits not previously chosen.

This bidding will also divide the players into the red and black partnerships, given the color of their chosen trump suit. Unlike other Whist variants, your partner may not necessarily be seated across from you, and your partnership lasts only for that round.

The first trick is led by whichever player bid the highest. If there is tie, then the lead will go to which of those players (involved in the tie) chose a higher-valued suit as their trump according to standard Bridge order (also, alphabetically): clubs (least), diamonds (second least), hearts (second greatest), spades (greatest).

Taking Tricks:

Each player must play a card (clockwise, in turn) by placing it face up in the center. If possible, each player must follow suit (play a card with the same suit as first of the four cards played). If a player cannot follow suit, that player may either play a trump, or discard (play any other card).

Note to players: You may only play a card in your trump suit as a trump in lieu of a discard. Leading with your trump suit or following suit in your trump suit is still just “following suit”, and is not considered “playing a trump”.

Once the trick is over (the four cards are played), whoever played the highest-valued trump, (or if no trumps are played, whoever played the highest card of the suit led) “wins the trick” and sets those four cards next to them for later scoring. That winner will then lead the next trick.

Note to players: If two (or three) trumps of apparently equal value are played, whichever trump has a higher-valued suit is considered greater.

Once all 13 tricks are played, scoring is accomplished for the round (see the next section on scoring), the cards shuffled and re-dealt by the person to the previous dealer’s left, and bidding for the next round begins.

Scoring/Winning:

A partnership adds together the number of tricks they’ve both taken, and compares it to their combined bid. If they did not make the bid, they get 0 points. Otherwise they are both awarded 10 points for each trick they bid together. But for every extra trick they’ve taken beyond this bid, they must each take an additional point. (When a player accumulates 10 such points, 110 points are deducted from that player’s score.) The first player to reach 1,000 points is declared “winner”.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The play would be a lot less strategic than at Spades, because it won't be possible to draw trump, and it certainly won't be possible to draw trump and then run a side suit. This is one major consideration of play that would be lost.

Indeed, you would never lead your trump suit unless forced to, because that burns your trump but not other players' trump.

I'm also afraid that the game would never end if no one wanted to lose. If a player is close to winning, it's quite easy to make sure that they end up in a 13 contract - when the player is 3rd or 4th to bid, the first two players bid 1 in the same color; when the player is 1st or 2nd to bid, some sacrificial lamb bids 13 in the other suit of their color.

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    Agreed that this rules allow "not letting the leader to win" sacrifice that will make the game endless. A possible fix is to allow players to leave partnership and play solo (getting less points but relying on yourself). – Cohensius Oct 25 at 7:37
  • What a time! This variant ended up really fun, except that once the players realized they were on their own, they spent the rest of the game trying to sabotage their partners, and like you predicted, no one was able to get anywhere score-wise. Still, a little more polish and I think this game could have a better way to conclude. Everyone had fun with it though! – ridthyself Oct 25 at 23:49
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    I think it might be interesting to change the rules so that, when the lead to a trick is that player's trump suit, then everyone else must play a card in their own trump suit. This would allow drawing trump. – Alexander Woo Oct 26 at 0:39
  • That's actually a really good idea. I'm going to see if they're willing for a retry with this rule for comparison. We also tried not bidding, and however many tricks you and your partner took, that was your score. But maybe this is too watered-down for people who really enjoy that part of the game – ridthyself Oct 26 at 12:35

Sound interesting variant, would be fun to play test it!

1000 points might be too much, it can result in too much "garbage time", the standard full game of Spades is 500/5, that is first partnership that reach 500 points or 5 rounds. (think about a scenario where one player has ~700 points and all other three player has ~350, the winner is known but still there is several rounds to play).

Nil bids I would add that if someone bids 0, the round become 3 Vs 1. If the 0 bidder gets set, all other player automatically gets their bids and the round is over. If the Niler success in not taking any trick then only her gets 100 points and all other players get 0. For reference: In Spades 0 bid is worth 100 is succeed and -100 if set. In Whist it is 50 or 25 gamble depends if the round is an under/over round (if the total bids are more\less than 13)

I think that you can add another aspect of "partners hated each other", since right now I dont "feel the hate enough". Maybe they can get different score? For example, I would add that the last partner from each partnership that wins a trick, gets another 20 points bonus.

  • The nil bid rule is definitely needed, but you're right, this game is still missing something essential. Not sure what it is though – ridthyself Oct 25 at 23:52

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