Trick WallsA trick taking civil war card game for 2 - 6 players.
- 2016 - 2021
- Trick Taking
- Updated on
- 24 Jul 2021
- Version history
- Civil War(2018)
- Civil War(2017)
- Wind of Fortune (v1, v4)
2 - 6 players. (The game is simplest with 4 players.)
A normal deck of 52 playing cards, no jokers.
The layout consists of 4 cities each located in front of a player.
- The table is divided into two rival sides: black vs. red, so that teammates sit next to each other.
- Each player is dealt 9 hand cards, which they play into the city in front of them one by one face up or down. (The aim is to play your colour face up.)
- The cards are played as tricks (see details below). The starting turn moves clockwise, so the first player starts 3 tricks and the others 2 tricks.
After each round, the relative point difference of the teams (red vs. black) is calculated from the 4 city walls. The game ends after 4 rounds.
The first dealer is picked randomly. The dealer's job is passed from team to team each round.
- In the beginning of the game, the dealer offers the deck to the other team for picking up a card to determine their colour. (Only in the first round.)
- The first player (clockwise) on the opposite side of the dealer always starts the first trick of the round.
- After 2 rounds, the teammembers on both sides switch places with each other, so that each player gets to start a round once (and deals once).
The main gameplay is like in a traditional trick taking game:
- During a trick, each player plays one hand card in clockwise order.
- The first card of the trick determines the trick suit, and other players must play the same suit if they can, or otherwise any card is okay.
- Exceptionally, aces (A) are number 1 (= the lowest) when played as the first card of the trick, but otherwise they are 14 (= the highest).
- The next trick is started by the next player clockwise (from the player that started this trick). It makes no difference who "won" the trick.
BUILDING CITY WALLS (face up / down)
Unlike in traditional trick games, the played cards are not discarded, but instead collected in front of each player building up their city wall.
- The first card of a trick is always played face up on top of the wall.
- The other cards are played face up when playing to win (= a higher card of the trick suit), or then killed: shown to everyone and put face down on the wall.
- Exceptionally, if the first card wins the trick, it's turned face down as well. (So, all walls on the table have their topmost card face down.)
AFTER THE ROUND
After the 9 tricks have been played, the points are counted. (Note. The first player always starts the first and last trick of the round.)
The scoring is relative throughout the game, so there's no need for bookkeeping equipment (just remember which side is winning and by how much). After each round the cumulative point difference is updated, and after the 4 rounds, the team with positive point difference wins (or it's a draw).
At its simplest, the round scoring system consists solely of the base score:
- The score is counted globally from the individual face up cards in all cities (by colour and class).
- The colour determines which side gets points (red vs. black).
- The class determines how many points: The higher class (J, Q, K, A) counts as 2p., the lower class (2 - 10) as 1p.
- Typically, the balance is counted city by city and added up on the go. For example, 5 + 2 + 0 + 1 = 4 points for red.
See Scoring Mods below to spice up the game - especially Pure Bonuses extension is recommended.
extension: PURE BONUSES
This extension brings city based bonuses / penalties (3p.) to scoring, which can affect playing strategies wildly.
- The bonuses are counted by simply checking if a city has only cards of one colour (face up and face down separately):
- PURE CITY: +3p. for each city that has only cards of your team colour face up.
- PURE MASSACRE: -3p. for each city that has only cards of your team colour face down. (The city is turned upside down before counting.)
- The base score and bonuses / penalties are summed together to give the final score of the round.
- For example, say, the red team gets 4p. as the base score, but bonuses favour black by 3p., so the score would be 1p. for red (= 4 - 3).
extension: KILL BALANCE
This extension makes each kill matter by adding points from face down cards to the base score (negatively).
- The routine for counting points:
- First the face up cards from all cities are collected together and "pruned" by opposite colours cancelling each other.
- For example ♥3 would cancel 1 low black card (say, ♧7). Likewise a ♤Q would cancel either 2 low cards (♥5 and ♦9) or 1 high card (♦A) from the red side.
- The cancelled cards are simply discarded (thrown face down on top of the remainder deck), while the remaining cards are put aside marking the positive score.
- Then all the face down cards are turned face up and they "prune" each other similarly. The result is the negative score (= positive for the other colour).
- For example, if red has 3p. more face down, it's actually -3p. for red (= +3p. for black).
- Finally, the two scoring sides (positive and negative) are added together: eg. 4p. + 3p. becomes 1p. for red.
- Extra notes:
- The background point of this extension is to counter-balance the situations where there are clearly more dealt cards of one colour than the other.
- You can also combine this extension with Pure Bonuses: Just count the bonuses & penalties first, and then do the pruning process.
variation: THE CITY KEEPERS
This variation modifies the scoring system to be about players (instead of teams).
- The points are given to individual players based on their own cities:
- The base score of each player comes from the face up cards of his city (in relation to his team colour).
- Likewise, the Pure Bonuses give positive or negative points to the keeper of that city (by team colour).
- With Kill Balance extension, you can still do "pruning" to make counting easier, but it's done within each city separately.
- Accordingly, simple bookkeeping equipment is required to mark the cumulative score for each player. The player with the best point difference after the 4 rounds wins the game.
LONG RUN / FULL DECK (for 4 players)
This is a variation for the main game. The only difference is that all the cards are dealt, so each player gets 13 hand cards.
- So each player gets to start 3 tricks per round, except the first player starts 4 tricks.
- It's also common tradition to exchange one card with the player opposite to you before the round starts (unless it's a Dummy City, see below).
About other extensions and variations:
- The Pure Bonuses extension works similarly, but strategically speaking the bonuses are a bit rarer, and base score difference can be bigger.
- It's not recommended to combine this with Kill Balance extension. (1. Pruning cards become laborious, 2. All cards are dealt: no colour imbalance.)
- You can also combine this variation with Dummy Cities for a 2- or 3-player-game.
DUMMY CITIES (for 2 or 3 players)
The layout still consists of 4 cities but each missing player is replaced by a Dummy City:
- The hand cards of the Dummy City are kept behind its wall.
- The dummy always has 3 cards face up and the remaining hand cards are face down in one pile.
- The player on the dummy's right decides which card to play: Either one of the 3 face up cards or the topmost card of the face down pile.
- The random option is not allowed if the trick suit matches a face up card. So, it's only allowed, when no suit matches or when starting a trick.
- If a face up card was played, the controlling player draws a new card from the pile after the trick (until the pile runs out).
HEXAGON / 6 CITIES (for 5 or 6 players)
The layout consists of 6 cities: 3 next to each other, and on the other side the opponent trio.
- Each player is dealt 8 hand cards (instead of 9). Consequently, there are only 4 leftover cards in the deck (8% - normally there's 31% with 16 cards).
- Accordingly, the game is played for 6 rounds, so that each player deals once.
- With 5 players, there's 1 Dummy City in the center of the team, controlled by the player on the dummy's right.
- The game still lasts 6 rounds, and so the player with the dummy has to deal twice.
ORIENTATION (level by level)
- You want cards of your team colour to be face up in all cities in the world.
- You want cards of the other colour to be face down (killed) in all cities.
2. Your hand cards:
- After getting your hand cards, you can already create a game plan for the round.
- Read which cards you would like played face up vs. face down (by colour).
- Check how well you can dodge suits of the opponent's colour (by low cards of the opponent's colour).
- Check for candidate cards to start tricks with: low cards of your own colour or very high cards (except ace) of the other colour.
- It's good luck to have an ace of your colour: It's the lowest number when starting a trick, and it's also the best weapon against the opponent's "high attacks" (of your colour). Conversely, managing to play an ace of the opponent colour face down or leave it unplayed (= last card) is very favourable.
3. Team roles:
- Due to the layout, the teammembers have specific roles: the first player clockwise is often called the "buffer": he takes the hit protecting the second player. (This is especially true with Pure Bonuses extension.)
- The role can affect much how you would play your hand cards. For example, in the buffer role it can be good to have relatively high cards of the other colour, so that only one of you takes the hit. It's also good to have very low cards of your colour, so that when you start a trick your teammate can play just a tiny bit higher.
4. With Pure Bonuses extension:
- It's very important to strategise how you can achieve a pure bonus for your city, already after getting your hand cards. (Note. This is especially true when you have very colour-imbalanced hand cards.)
- It's also important to scan the Pure City situation of the enemy cities while the round progresses, and try to ruin their pureness.
- Note. The theoretical maximum relative score for one city is 24 points: 7 high cards of your colour face up (+7p. * 2) and 1 face down card of the other colour, yielding a Pure City of your colour (+5p.) and a Pure Massacre of the opponent's colour (+5p.).
5. With Kill Balance extension:
- Each card you play matters: it's either 1p. (or 2p. if higher class) for your team or then for the opponent. Which it is, is solely based on the colour (and class) of the card and whether you play it face up or down.
- So, be careful not to play high cards of your colour face down. Accordingly, a successful "high attack" can be very dangerous.
There are two main strategies for starting a trick:
- Play a very low card of your own colour:
- Since it's your colour, your city will get a face up card of your colour. In addition, no city can get a face up card of your opponent's colour during this trick.
- Because the number is low, it's harder to dodge it by playing a lower card of the number - so other cities are more likely to get face up cards of that suit, and it's less likely to be an Empty Trick.
- Alternatively, play a very high card of your opponent's colour.
- In any case, this will "consume" cards of that suit, so they won't get played face up later.
- At best, no one can play higher, and so your original card gets turned face down as well. However, if someone plays higher, you'll have to keep that card face up (typically K or Q).
- You can also consider playing a suit that you have only one card of - so that you get more chances to "trash" bad cards later on. However, you only get 2 starting turns, so you don't want to waste them.
When playing (2nd, 3rd or last) on a trick, the situation mainly depends on:
- Can you play the trick suit or not.
- If you can't, it's time to "thrash" away a card. Typically this is a card of your opponent's colour, often a relatively high one.
- What colour is played.
- If the suit is your team colour, you want to support its existence in your own city, and thus play higher of the suit.
- If it's your opponent's colour, you want to dodge it and thus kill a card of that suit.
- Your position in the trick order (2nd, 3rd or last).
- If you're the last to play in the tricking order, it's all quite straightforward.
- However, if there are still 1 or 2 cities after you, you might want to think more about them than your own city.
- So, instead of playing to win a trick of your colour, you might dodge it, so that the other cities are more likely to gain face up cards of your colour - however doing this could make the trick empty. The optimal solution would be to play a card of just 1 number higher.
- Likewise, although dodging your opponent's colour is preferable, you sometimes want to play a very high card (A > K > ...) in order to protect the cities after you. Although, you'll be annoyed if it would have been an Empty Trick that you just prevented.
FOR IDEAS, HELP WITH DEVELOPMENT & PLAYING
Ville Viitala, Johannes Aho, Tomi Laine, Antti Mannila, Akseli Leinonen, Johan Rautio and Janne Sutinen.
Special thanks to Akseli Leinonen for the early inspirational idea about "Muuripeli" / "Wall Game" (mostly present in versions 1 - 5).