Tarok is a fun card game played with a deck of tarot playing cards. These are the rules to the two player version, for the three to four player variant click here.
Since tarok is not played with a »regular« deck, but rather with a special version of tarot cards that are made just for this game, let’s familiarize ourselves with the cards first…
First you have the trumps ranging in strength from 1 to 21, usually listed in Roman numbers(I, II, III… XX, XXI). These cards are the strongest cards in the game and take any trick when played, the strongest being the XXI.
You also have one more trump card, that is even stronger than the XXI, called the Fool. This is the strongest card in the deck.
Apart from trumps you also have cards that are similar to regular cards. Like in a regular deck, there are 4 suits (clubs, diamonds, spades, hearts) and 8 cards of each suit. All suits have a King, Queen, Cavalier and a Valet, with the King being the strongest. The other 4 cards are a bit different dough… diamonds and hearts have card ranging from Ace to Four and clubs and spades have cards ranging from Seven to Ten. Now, the strength of these hands for each suit goes like this(from strongest to weakest):
Hearts and diamonds: King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, Ace, Deuce, Trey, Four
Spades and clubs: King, Queen, Cavalier, Valet, Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven
And remember, trumps are stronger than any suit. Let’s continue…
Each player first gets four face down stacks of 5 cards and then another 7 cards that he takes into his hand. Both players then turn up the top card of each of their stacks. If a top card is a trump or a king, the player takes it into his hand, otherwise he leaves it on top of the stack.
Now the game starts. The first trick is lead by the non-dealer player. The player that throws down the strongest card wins the trick. The next trick is lead by the winner of the previous trick and so on until both players run out of cards.
Players can lead with any card from their hand or with one of the top cards on their stacks. If they lead with a card from one of the stacks, then they have to turn up the next card (If it’s a trump or a king, the player takes it into his hand, otherwise he leaves it on top of the stack).
Every-time a player leads the other player must follow suit, if he doesn’t have that suit, he has to play a trump, if he doesn’t have a trump he can play any card, but he will not win.
Counting, card values and scoring
When the game is finished both 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
The player that reaches the score of more than 35 points wins the game. The winning player scores the point differences between 35 and his score(rounded up to 5 points).
That’s it, enjoy your game!