Monday, May 29, 2006

Nogas - a minor trick taking game

Tal taught me yet another game her friends play in school with a standard deck of playing cards. This one is thankfully a wee bit better than some of the others.

It can be played 4 or 3 players. With 4 players, the cards 2-6 are removed. With 3 players, the 2-5 are removed.

All cards are dealt out to all players. After looking at his cards, the dealer declares which of five types of rounds are being played. The choices are: kings, queens, hearts, tricks, or "fun".

For the first four choices, the declarer leads a card and players follow suit, tossing if they don't have. Winner leads, and so on until tricks are all taken.

In kings, the player who takes the king of spades loses 40 points. In queens, each queen is minus 10. In hearts, each heart is minus 5. In tricks, each trick is minus 5.

In "fun", which is the least fun of them, the declarer names a card that he doesn't have and the player holding it places it down in the center. Players then play in a circle, skipping turns when they can't play as required. To explain what can be played, let's say the first card played is the jack of spades.

The next player can play either the 10 of spades, queen of spades, or any jack. If he plays the 10, the next player can play the 9 of spades, queen of spades, or any jack. Until a jack of another suit is played, only spades can be played, adjacent to ones already played. Once the jack of another suit is played, then adjacent cards of that suit can also be played.

If a player plays an ace, he can also play all other cards in his hand that can also legally be played immediately.

The first person to go out of cards wins 100 points, second wins 60 points.

Although it sounds like there may be some strategy here, I assure you that there isn't. I tried, but I couldn't find a way to make the player after me have any less choices. I suppose that waiting as long as possible to open a new suit is probably best. And playing a king (allowing an ace to be played) is probably best done at a time when either only one suit is open, or only 1 card is left in someone's hand. But, no, it's not interesting.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, after playing one round, the same dealer deals again, and this time has to choose one of the other round types, and so on until all five types have been played. Then the next player is dealer, and so on until all players have dealt five rounds. High score wins.

Trick taking is always good for a little tactics, and being able to choose what round type will be played before the round starts adds a little something, which raises this game to slightly better than the usual garbage her friends play at school (although they are mostly playing Gin and Oh Hell right now).


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