While I have not found direct evidence of this game being played pre-1650, many secondary and tertiary sources state this game has origins in the 16, if not 15th century. This is sufficient evidence for me that the game is more-than plausible for the SCA period. This is a two sided game and can be played by two players, or four players in two teams. The later can include table-talk to subtly communicate to your partner. This game is played with a deck of 40 cards, divided into four suits. Each suit has values from 1 (ace) to 7; the three court cards are the Knave, the Knight and King, which are worth respectively 8, 9 and 10. Several hands are played until one side accumulates a set number of points, normally 11 or 21.
The Deal: The dealer shuffles all cards and turns four (4) cards face up in the middle then deals three (3) cards to each player. The Play: Starting with the player to the Dealer’s right, players try to capture cards from the middle with a card from their hand by matching their values. If a player can not capture, they must lay a card from their hand face-up in the middle. Players may only play one card from their hand on their turn. They are not forced to capture, but they may not discard a card which would make a capture.
All captures are based on the value of cards. For example, A 5 may capture another 5, an Ace, another Ace, etc. Multiple cards may be captured: a 7... ..may capture a 5 and a 2 a 10 (king)... ...may capture a 1 (ace) and a 9 (knight)
but if there is a match, it must be taken before a combination. Captured cards are kept, face down, in front of the player who captured them.
- Scopa! If a player "sweeps" the table, leaving it without cards, he scores a scopa. (And traditionally, calls it out loud.) Because each Scopa is worth one point, it is best to keep track as they are scored.
When each player is out of cards in their hand, the Dealer deals our three more to each and play continues until the deck is spent.
- End of game: At the end of the game, after the dealer’s last play, any remaining, uncaptured cards are taken by the player (or team) who has made the last capture, as a bonus. This does not count as a Scopa.
- Scoring: Score one point for each of the following:
- Every Scopa.
- The most cards captured.
- The most coin cards captured.
- Capturing the 7 of Coins, known as settebello ("the nice seven");
- The best primiera, a special combination of four cards, one for each suit, which will be discussed in detail further on.
The winner is the player (or the team) who first reaches a given total of points, usually 11 or 21.
The primiera is a sequence of four cards, each of a different suit scored by to the chart below.
a sample primiera, worth 21+16+15+21 = 73
- 7s (the most valuable cards) are worth 21
- 6s (second best) are worth 18
- 1s (aces) are worth 16
- 5s are worth 15
- 4s are worth 14
- 3s are worth 13
- 2s are worth 12
- Knaves, Knights, and Kings are worth 10
Each side will put together the best possible combination, by using the captured cards. All four suits must be represented. The sum of the four values will tell who has the best primiera.
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