Grosstarock is probably the most interesting and exciting tarot card game I know. To me it seems like a mixture of Tarock and Poker, more specifically, it reminds me of Chinese Poker. So what is so cool about Grosstarock and why is it like a mixture of these games?
Well, it’s played a lot like Tarok or any other similar tarot game, but it has a point system that makes players »put points into a pot«(kind of like betting in poker). So basically this game is really cool, if you want to play for real stakes, but are tired of poker.
Now, I have to warn you, this game is really complicated, but I can also promise you that it’s worth the time it takes to learn the rules.
What do you need?
For starters, three players and since you actually bet points ,it’s good to have poker chips or something similar to keep track. You could also write everything down as you go, but it’s just easier to use something solid as points. Besides chips you’ll also need a deck of cards, more specifically a 78 card deck of French tarot playing cards.
These cards, like any other tarot deck, have trumps from I to XXI plus the Fool, and they also have the standard four suits(diamonds, spades, hearts and clubs). The suits go from Ace to Ten and then Valet, Cavalier, Queen, King.
Suit cards go from strongest to weakest: King > Queen > Cavalier > Valet > Ace to Ten
Trumps start with the weakest I and end with the strongest XXI.
Trump I is called Pagat and Trump XXI is called Mond.
The Fool is used as an excuse in this game. This means that when it’s played, it doesn’t win or lose, it is an excuse for not playing a card. The player that plays the Fool takes him into his trick pile and gives a blank card to the player that won the trick. If a player wins with a Slam(explenation below), he also wins the Fool from the player that had him.
Before the game:
Before the game starts all the players »bet« a fixed amount of 40 points into two pots, called the King pot and Pagat pot.
After that the dealer is chosen with a random high card draw and the cards are dealt. The game is played counter clock-wise. Each player gets 25 cards, 5 cards at a time, except the dealer, he gets 28 cards. He then discards 3 of his cards into his trick pile and adds 5 points to each pot. There are a few rules the dealer must follow when discarding:
He must not discard any Kings, Trump I, Trump XXI or the Fool.
He must not discard any Trumps, unless they are his last and discarding them would leave him without trumps.
He must not discard any cards that would count towards a bonus decleration, unless he has no other choice, but in that case he has to declared the bonus and show that card(s) to the other players.
Now there’s just one more thing to do before the game can start for real, and that is declaring bonuses. This is not an optional move, if you have a bonus in your hand you must declare it. These bonuses refer to the cards that are in your hand after the deal.
1. King bonuses:
- Full Kings = Four Kings = 10 points
- Abundant Kings = Four Kings + the Fool = 15 points
- Half Kings = Three Kings + the Fool = 5 points
2. Royalty bonuses:
- Full suit = All four face cards of one suit = 10 points
- Abundant suit = All four face cards of one suit + the Fool = 15 points
- Half suit = Three face cards of one suit + the Fool = 5 points
When you declare a suit bonus, you also have to declare which of the suit it consists of and if you have more than one, you have to declare all of them.
3. Trump bonuses:
- Pagat + Mond + the Fool = 10 points.
If you have any further consecutive Trumps you must declare how many and you get 5 additional points for each of them(example: Mond + Pagat + Fool + TrumpXX + TrumpXIX = 20 points).
- You must also declare if you have 10 or more trumps. You get 10 points for 10 trumps, plus 5 points for every trump you have above the minimum 10. In case one of the Trumps is the Pagat, you have to announce that as well.
The points that a player gets from bonuses are not payed into pots, they are payed to that player by the other players before the game begins.
The game itself is played like pretty much any other trick taking game. It starts with the player on the right of the dealer, he leads the first trick. After that the winner of the previous trick always leads the next trick.
Players have to play the same suit as the leading player, if they don’t have it, they have to play a Trump, if they don’t have a Trump, they can play any card, but the leading suit is the strongest for that trick(Trumps are still stronger dough).
Play continues like this until the last trick.
There are also some points to be won during the gameplay. If someone plays the Pagat and loses, he has to pay each player 5 points and 5 points to the Pagat pot. The same thing for any king, if someone loses with a King, he has to pay 5 points to each player and 5 points into the King pot.
Like in the pregame phase and during gameplay, players also win points at the end for how they did during the game and for the last trick. There are a couple of different things that points are won for:
- Pagat Ultimo
When a player wins the last trick with the Pagat, he takes the Pagat pot and all other players must also pay him 45 points each.
- King Ultimo
When a player wins the last trick with a King, he takes the King pot and all other players must also pay him 40 points each.
If a player wins the last trick without a King or the Pagat, he gets 20 points from each player.
- Pagat Bagud
When a player plays the Pagat in the last trick and loses it, he has to pay every player and the Pagat pot 45 points.
- King Bagud
When a player plays a King in the last trick and loses it, he has to pay every player and the King pot 45 points.
If a player takes all the tricks, each of the other players must pay him 85 points and he also wins both the Pagat and King pot.
If one player doesn’t take any tricks, and nobody won with a Slam, he gets 25 points from the other players. In addition, if somebody manages a Beggar, Ultioms and Baguds do not count.
- Kings, Trump I and XXI, the Fool are all worth 4 card points
- Queens are 3 card points
- Cavaliers are 2 card points
- Valets are 1 card point
- All other cards are counted in grupes of three, which are worth 1 card point
Now everyone except the player to the dealers right(called the Elder) count their cards. For each point above 25 a player gets payed that many points by the Elder. If a player has less than 25 points, he has to pay the differance to the Elder.
I know this game seems a bit complex and it might take a while to actually figure out who has to give what to who after each game, but it’s really fun. Try it any enjoy playing GrossTarock!