We’ve all spent hours playing Hearts on our computers – wasting time away trying to shoot the moon, or even just beat that jerk Pauline, who keeps screwing us over with the Queen of Spades late in the round. In this week’s list, the League shares with you some of our favorite trick-taking games to play hands-on with real people (sorry, old Microsoft-created friends).
While it’s not a strict trick-taking game, this 3-player-only ladder climbing game is by far my favorite classic trick-style card game. It leaves a lot of room for savvy play and I’ve enjoyed becoming more proficient at reading the strength of my hand and playing it out successfully. The rotating 2v1 is a fun addition, making you navigate a semi-cooperative relationship while still trying to stay ahead of both opponents.
Because it’s awesome, duh. It’s been a favorite for some time. Each round is fast paced and the changing dynamic of the Chimera and Chimera hunters makes it really interesting to play.
Chimera is a three-player game that pits one player against the other two. The game is played over several rounds and the teams can change every round. Players are able to bid on how great they think their hand is before they race to get rid of them all in crazy combos of sets and sequences. Each round is different and each game is different because there are so many ways to break down your hand, and the way you play your cards depends on how much you want to risk the sets/sequences you’ve already set up as opposed to conforming to what your opponents have played before you. The cards are excellent quality and you can play it anywhere!
The shifting round-to-round win conditions combined with the unique card powers make for a thinky and varied trick-taking experience. Beloved for his elegance and simplicity, Seiji Kanai really brought the genre to a new level with Chronicle. This game is highly underrated in my opinion but I wholeheartedly endorse it for those looking to spice up their trick-taking collection.
Diamonds is very similar to the classic trick-taker, Hearts. Each player is trying to amass the most diamonds at the end of the game. Special suit actions allow players to earn diamonds or steal them from other players. Cards are played one at a time and the highest number wins the trick. The special actions come in when you win tricks of certain suits or are forced to play out of suit. This is a very fun family-style game that I always enjoy playing.
I play Diamonds infrequently, but whenever I do I think, “Why don’t I play this more?” It combines the classic formula of Hearts, but increases the interaction by giving each suit a special ability.
An older game and one that’s harder to find, but still one that I find quite fun when I can get it to the table. Each player will be the dealer for five hands throughout the game, and chooses the objective from a list of possibilities depending on their current hand. Crystals are won and lost depending on the dealer’s success in meeting this objective, and extra turns as the dealer can be stolen by succeeding in a Power Play, such as taking every trick in a hand. This is a gorgeously illustrated game, and fits the theme quite well.
While not the most flashy or mechanically innovative, this classic trick-taking game holds a special place in my heart for purely nostalgic reasons. My grandfather (my hero) taught me this when I was young, spending my summers at their house at the shore. To this day, I still hold this game in such high esteem due to its ability to bring my family together at the table for a good laugh and some good ol’ fashion family bragging rights.
Haggis reminds me a lot of Chimera and, as you can see, I love Chimera. It has enough differences to make me like playing both, but Haggis becomes a contender to overtake Chimera as the favorite
A couple of friends introduced me to Thirteen, recently, and it reminded me of a lot of Chimera. This is a four player trick taker that awards wins for being the first to empty your hand. Cards are played in kind or in sequences, and suits hold special rankings. For example, if you played a four of spades, then an opponent can play a four of diamonds to beat it as that suit is higher ranked. Twos are special, and they can trump any trick that is played. The game always seems to boil down to timing. Once you get a grasp on the suits and rankings you can easily play a bunch of rounds in a short period of time and is always lots of fun.