This four player game is a little rough around the edges and I had long believed the notes to this to be lost. I recently found them when when sorting through some old university stuff. As it turns out, it doesn’t look too bad, so I’m adding it to this collection.
Largely based on the French game with the twist that one of the regular suits is elected through bidding to be a second trump suit.

Pack: A standard tarot of 78 cards is used consisting of four regular suits of 14 cards, a suit of 21 trumps, and The Fool.

Ranking: Standard ranking is used...

Pips rank in suit from high to low:
King, Queen, Cavalier, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace

There are two trump suits, the regular trumps and the Imperial Suit. The 1-10 of the Imperials rank as their number, so that the 8 of Imperials will beat the 7 of regular trumps. The Jack ranks 11, the Cavalier at 12, and the Queen at 13. However, if a regular trump and an Imperial of the same rank are played to the same trick, the regular trump will rank the higher of the two. The King of the Imperial Suit outranks all trumps bar The World (no King is that great) and The Magician (because the greatest King can still be felled by the lowest of subjects).

Empty Cards: These are cards that have values of 1 point or less.

Honours: The Magician, The World, and The Fool are called The Honours. They are always among the highest scoring cards.

Card Points are:

5 points
5 points
4 points
3 points
2 points
5 points
All others
1 point

A game should be any multiple of four hands.

Deal: First Dealer is chosen at random or by consent with the role moving to the player on the left after each hand.

Players are dealt 18 cards in packets of 3, with 6 cards - neither the first or last 6 - being dealt face down to form a stock which is called The People.

Auction: There is a round of bidding to determine who shall play as Declarer, pitted against the other players. Starting with Dealer’s left, players take it in turns to bid or to pass. A bid consists of three parts.

The first part is the suit the bidder wishes to be the second trump suit by declaring that suit to be Imperial.

The second part indicates the number of points they mean to win by:

55 points
65 points
75 points
85 points
95 points

With this bid, players must call a multiplier:

With The People
The value of the hand is unchanged
Without The People
The value of the hand is doubled
Against The People
The Value of the hand is quadrupled

An example of a bid might be: “Hearts Royal in Battle Against The People”

The winning bid will be the one to win the game by the most card points, regardless of which suit is bid for. However, a player may outbid another with the same points by declaring a higher multiplier. Each player may make a bid or pass, and they may bid more than once (though once they have passed, they may not bid). The first to bid must bid Skirmish. Each player bidding after that must make a bid either on higher (ie after Skirmish, they may bid Battle but not War), or an equal bid but with a higher multiplier.

The third part of the bid does nothing to decide the auction but is a declaration for bonuses, which may only be announced as part of a bid.
  • The Sparrow: The player commits to win the last trick with The Magician. If the bid is not won, then the announcement is void. 10 points.
  • Slam: The player commits to win every trick. Again, if the bid is not won, then the announcement is void. 200 points.
Both of these bonuses can be won unannounced for half points (this includes announcements made to bids that aren’t won). However, if announced and the player fails to win the bonus, then the full points value must be paid to each of the other players.

The remaining bonuses are only scored if the bid is won and are for holding a given number of trumps. To declare for them, the player must lay down the cards for the bid.
  • A Unit: The player holds 10 trumps.
  • A Regiment: The player holds 13 trumps.
  • An Army: The player holds 15 trumps.
If the player has more trumps than required by their announced bonus, they are not obliged to show them.

Bidding ends when three consecutive players have passed.

If all players after Eldest pass, then Eldest may chose to either keep the bid of Skirmish and play on or to call for a Penalty Play (see below).

So, an example bid might be:
An Earth Regicide with the People, The Sparrow and a Regiment.

This would mean that the player wishes Earth to be the additional trump suit, and commits to win the game with 50 or more points, using the stock to build their hand (see below) and has 13 trumps which must be displayed as the bid is made.

The People: The stock may be dealt with in three ways according the bidding.
  • With the People: The stock is exposed to the other players and then added to Declarer’s hand, who must then discard six cards into their tick pile. The discards may not include Trumps, Kings, or Honours. If this is not possible, then empty (1 point) trumps may be discarded - though they must be shown.
  • Without the People: The stock goes unseen into Declarer’s trick pile.
  • Against the People: The stock goes unseen into the Defender’s trick pile.
Play: Eldest (Dealer’s Left) leads to the first trick by placing a card face up on the table. Each player in turn, moving to the left, must play a card from their hand of the suit led – this is called following suit. If they do not have any cards of the suit led, it is called being void in that suit and they must play a trump card instead. However, if they have no trumps, they may then play any other card, though it will not win. Whoever plays the highest trump to the trick wins it, or if trumps are not played, then whoever played the highest card of the suit led wins it. The winner takes the cards and places them face down in their trick pile to be counted at the end.

The player that wins the trick then leads to the next one and play continues until the hand has been played out.

If The Fool is held, then it may be played at any time instead of a card that the rules might otherwise require and although it will not win, it is seldom lost. When played, The Fool is returned to to its player who then places it face up beside them until the end of the hand when they must pay the player who won the trick with a card from their trick pile (obviously, they will choose an empty card if they can). However, if they have taken no tricks, then they must surrender The Fool instead.

The Imperial Suit: The imperial suit is subject to normal rules of play, the rank of the cards determines their rank as trumps – though when against the trump of the same rank, they will lose. However, the Imperial King beats all other cards save for The World and The Magician. If the Imperial King and The Magician are played to the same trick, then The Magician wins it, irrespective of what other trumps have been played.

Playing the Penalty: In this instance, The People are set aside and count for nobody. All play for themselves and there is no Imperial Suit. The object is to avoid winning any points. The player to wins the most card points loses as many game points to each of the other players. A harsh penalty for not bidding!

Scores: Card points are counted individually by each side plus 1 point for each trick won (cards of The People do not count as tricks). There are 145 card points in the hand. If a player has won the points required by their bid, then they win in card points:

10 points
20 points
30 points
40 points
50 points

This is multiplied according to the multiplier bid and then the scores for any won /lost declarations are added/subtracted.

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