Wizard, the Card Game

So I learned a new card game today called "Wizard". It is very similar to the game "Bugger Bridge", but has 8 extra cards and some additional rules. (Wizard and Bugger Bridge is similar to another card game called "Oh Hell", which I should probably try sometime.)

Here are some notes...

Assuming a person already knows how to play Bugger Bridge, here are the changes.

8 extra cards, 4 Wizards and 4 Jesters.

The Wizards are wild cards. They can be played even if you would normally have to follow suit and will automatically take the trick - unless someone else played a Wizard first during that round. Thus you really want to be the first person to play it, because then you are guaranteed to take that trick. The only time someone would use a Wizard after one has already been played is if they are trying to get rid of it.

The 4 Jesters are completely worthless. They can be played even if you would normally have to follow suit, and they can NEVER take a trick, even if led during a round. This means they are usually used to protect yourself from accidentally taking a trick. They are "safe cards" to lead and also safe to throw away during a round. If everyone throws a Jester in a single round, then nobody takes the trick - but the person who dealt it has the lead. (Such an occurrence is very rare.)

Now because of the way Bugger Bridge is played, the 8 extra cards have some extra rules with respect to what is trump, what happens when it is led, etc.

Wizard as trump = the dealer decides what is trump before the bidding begins.

Jester as trump = the first player to the left of the dealer decides what is trump before the bidding begins.

If someone leads a Wizard during a round, it doesn't really matter what is trump because that wizard takes everything anyway. Thus this is an opportunity for other players to discard their junk or get rid of cards they don't want.

If someone leads a Jester during a round, the person to their left can play any card, and that is the lead card for that round. (Unless they also play a Jester, in which case the next person to the left repeats the process.)

Scoring is also different from Bugger Bridge.

Each round players get a minimum of 20 points. If they bid 1 trick, they will get 30 points if they success in taking the 1 trick.
No tricks, 20 points
1 trick, 30 points
2 tricks, 40 points
3 tricks, 50 points
However if the bidder does not take their desired number of tricks, they lose 10 points. (This is similar to an optional rule found in Bugger Bridge.)

Since there is 60 cards total in a Wizard deck then 5 players can play 12 rounds... and during the final round there is no trump. If there are 4 players, they can play 15 rounds... and again during the final round there is no trump. 3 players = 20 rounds. 6 players = 10 rounds.

If there is 7 players then you can only play 8 rounds, 8 players = 7 rounds...

Of course you can also roughly double the length of the game if you progressively go back down to 1 card again, which is what my family usually does when playing Bugger Bridge. However as the woman teaching the game today informed me "That would be if you wanted to play a really long game." Which we were not.

Personal Notes about Strategy

While it is perfectly acceptable to play it safe in Bugger Bridge and bid none on a regular basis, in Wizard the scoring system encourages you to try for more tricks in an effort to reap the benefits in points.

I won today's game because I had an edge from 27+ years of playing Bugger Bridge. I ended with a score of 280 despite screwing up the last round and losing 10 points. The second highest scoring person was the woman who taught the card game (she got 270 points), and my impression was that she was used to winning and was not expecting a beginner to figure out the strategy of the game so quickly. (Like I said, 27+ years of playing Bugger Bridge gave me some insights as to strategy...)

I played it safe during quite a few rounds in the beginning of the game, bidding none regularly and only bidding 1 or 2 when I felt I had no choice but to take a few tricks. (eg. If you get a Wizard, you are pretty much guaranteed to take a trick and you would only not take that trick if you decided to get rid of it by waiting until someone else plays a Wizard first and then getting rid of yours.)

By the end of the game I was regularly bidding 2 or 3 tricks because I realized I was in a race with the woman who taught the game. I needed extra points to beat her, and also to maintain my lead.

During the final round I bid 3, but probably should have bid 4 or 5. I ended up accidentally taking 4 tricks because in the 2nd last round I played a Wizard when I should have waited. I should have discarded my lowly 7 of Diamonds during the 2nd last round, but sadly I made a whoops. I realized my mistake as I dealt it and immediately wanted the card back, but it was already played...

And then during the final round I took the trick with a crappy 7 because nobody else had trump cards and all the kings had apparently been played, and nobody had a higher diamonds. (If I had been card counting I would have remembered that all the kings were already played.)

The addition of the Kings and Jesters makes the game more chaotic in my opinion, but also allows for more strategy and skill on the part of the player. Players with little experience in such games tend to cause more chaos (and lose as a result) as the rounds go by, but veteran card gamers like myself can more or less predict what will happen. eg. I knew I screwed myself during that 2nd last round, but I still won the game so oh well.

Final Note

So I went on Amazon and ended up ordering a deck of Wizard cards and two other card games. I am hoping they arrive before xmas... My family loves card games so the card games will be well used in the future.

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