Scarto is the most basic tarot card game around. You can’t complicate it and anyone can learn how to play it within minutes. So let’s see what it’s all about…
Scarto is a three player game played with a 78 card tarot deck that consist of:
- The Fool – played as an excuse to not play a card in a trick. The player that plays him takes him into his trick pile and gives the player that won the trick another blank card from his trick pile.
- I-XXI of trumps – Strongest cards in the deck, with the strongest being the XXI and then XX and so on…
- And the suits:
- Spades and Clubs(strongest to weakest):
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
- Hearts and Diamonds(strongest to weakest):
King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Before the game
The first dealer is chosen at random(high card draw, flipping a coin, whatever…) and moves to the right after every game.
Each player gets 25 cards, dealt in packs of 5 and the dealer takes the last 3 remaining cards. Then the dealer proceeds to discard 3 of his cards into his trick pile. He can not discard Kings, trump I or trump XXI and he can only discard the Fool if he has no other trumps.
Player to Dealer’s right, leads to the first trick. He can play any card in his hand and each player(moving to the right), must play a card of the same suit, If the players can not follow suit, then they must play a trump, if they can not play a trump, then they can play any card, but it will not win(the lead suite is always the strongest for that trick). The player with the strongest card wins the trick and takes it into his trick pile. The winner of the trick then leads the next trick and so on until all players run out of cards.
When the game is finished players count the value of their tricks to determine the winner. So let us first take a look at how you count…
…counting is done in batches of 3 cards. When you have one face card(The Fool and Trump I and XXI also count as face cards) the value of that batch of cards is equal to the value of that face card, if you have 2 face cards in one batch of 3 cards you subtract 1 point, if you have 3, you subtract 2 points, if you have a batch with just trumps and non face cards, it’s worth 1 point. Clear? OK, now here are the values of face cards:
King = 5 points
Queen = 4 points
Cavalier = 3 points
Valet = 2 points
The Fool = 5 points
Trump XXI = 5 points
Trump I = 5 points
Players than score either positive game points or negative game point for the difference between their score and 26(example: a players scores 31 points, 31 minus 26 is 5, he gets 5 game points).
That’s it, enjoy playing Scarto!