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Early 17th C French Tarot

A trick-taking game for up to six players (though 4 is best)
Credits to Justin du Coeur

History: The Tarot deck reaches back well into period; it appears to have come into being not too long after the more conventional card decks, in the latter half of the 14th century.
All the available evidence indicates that the Tarot was used more or less exclusively for card games during the Renaissance; the Tarot's occult associations appear to have arisen later, in the 18th century.

Set-up: One 78-card Tarot deck. Ace is low, King is high. Higher suit cards beat lower, trumps beat any suit card, and higher-numbered trumps beat lower.

Play: Choose an initial dealer, after than the deal rotates Left. Deal 12 cards to each player, and set the remainder aside (they will not be used during this hand)

The person to the dealer’s left leads the first trick, and the winner of each trick leads the next. You must follow suit if possible; if you cannot, you must play a trump if you have any. If you are void of both the suit led and trumps, you may play any card, but will lose the trick.

If a trump is led, you must play a trump if possible. The trick is won by the player who played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played.

The Fool: The Fool is known as "the Excuse". You may play the Fool at any time, regardless of suit, but the Fool can not win the trick. At the end of the trick, the player who played it takes it back, and gives any other card he has won to the player who won the trick. If he has no cards, he still keeps the Fool, and pays later -- only if he wins no tricks must he surrender the Fool to the player who would have won it.
The Fool is the highest scoring card, and is difficult to lose.

Scoring: After all 12 tricks are played, each player totals up his cards for score. You gain one point for each card above 12*. Plus the following:

  • The Fool: 5 points
  • The World (trump XXI): 4 points
  • The Magician (trump I): 4 points
  • each King: 4 points
  • each Queen: 3 points
  • each Knight or Cavalier: 2 points
  • each Page or Knave: 1 point
    A Game is played to 50 points. If no one has 50 or more, play more hands until someone wins.
    • I play giving every card taken a point. It makes it easier to score and more generous.
    See Games for other types of activities.