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Doppelkopf Info Page


I. Building Your Playing Deck

II. Card Heirarchy

III. Card Points

IV. Basic Play and Finding Your Partner

V. The Wedding

VI. Start Playing

VII. Scoring the Points

VIII. Doubling Your Score and More

Advanced Rules

IX. The Second 10 of Hearts

X. The Fox and the Piglet

XI. Charlie

XII. Poverty

XIII. Five Nines

XIV. Solo Play coming soon!

XV. Playing with 6 Players coming soon!

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I. Building Your Playing Deck

Take two decks with identical backs, and throw out the 2's-8's of both decks. This leaves you with 48 cards when you combine the two decks together.

II. Card Heirarchy

This gets a little complicated later on, but here is the standard hierarchy of the Doppelkopf deck:
Trumps
10 of Hearts
Queens (Clubs, Spades, Hearts, then Diamonds)
Jacks (same order)
remaining Diamonds (Ace, Ten, King, Nine)
Playing Cards
Ace, Ten, King and Nine of each suit

A very important part of the heirarchy, is that the first card played of identical cards wins over the second. For instance, player 1 plays a Queen of Hearts, player two a Jack of Diamonds, player 3 plays a ten of diamonds, and player 4 plays his only remaining trump, the second Queen of Hearts. Player 1, the player of the first Queen of Hearts wins this trick. Look to the advanced rules (Rule IX) for the exceptions most people use to this rule.

III. Card Points

Aces = 11 card points
Tens = 10 card points
Kings = 4 card points
Queens = 3 card points
Jacks = 2 card points
Nines = no card points

IV. Basic Play and Finding Your Partner

Shuffle the cards and deal them out, clockwise to your four players. The main cards for finding your partner are the Queens of Clubs. The two players (in this example) that have these Queens are partners. Of course the sooner they know who the other is, the better they can play off of each other. In the meantime, the goal is to give as few as possible card points to possible opponents.

When the leading card is a playing card, each player must follow with a playing card of the same suit if possible. If not, they can either play a playing card from another suit, or play a trump card, gambling that the following players must play the appropriate playing card. Remember, there are only 8 playing cards for Clubs and Spades, and Hearts have only 6.
Once one of the Queen of Clubs comes into play, it gives the other holder the chance to play weaker cards when they will inevitably end up in his partner's spoils. This makes the connection clear without the second Queen having to be played, allowing a strong trump to come in later.

V. The Wedding

So, what happens when both Queens end up in the same hand? Before the game begins, this player has the opportunity to announce a "Wedding." This makes the winner of the first trick this player's partner. If this person wins three tricks before anyone else, the will be playing alone against the other three players. This mechanism allows a wedding situation to clarify the partnerships very early.

VI. Start Playing

With the rules you have learned so far, you could now begin playing. The next player clockwise from the dealer leads the first card. The winner of each trick leads the following one. At the end of round, the points of the won cards are totalled up for the two pairs of partners. Of the possible 240 points, the players with the Queens of Clubs need 121 to win the round. With a combined collection of two of the highest trumps, they are concidered marginally better placed, thus they have to work 1 point harder to win. More on the point details later, but you can jump in right now and try it out.

VII. Scoring the Points

Well, 121 points is the borderline, but it is a little more involved than that. For the next part of the scoring story, I will explain the scoring for both partner pairs. First, in the case where the Queens win the game, they get the following points:
Opponents have less than 120 card points - 1 game point
They have less than 90 card points - additional game point
They have less than 60 card points - additional game point
They have less than 30 card points - additional game point
They have no card points - additional game point

For the non-Queen team that wins: Opponents have only 120 card points or less - 2 game points
(one point for winning, and one for beating the Queens)
They have less than 90 card points - additional game point
They have less than 60 card points - additional game point
They have less than 30 card points - additional game point
They have no card points - additional game point

IX. Doubling Your Score and More

If in the course of the game, one or the other teams claims they will win, this will double thier game points, but only if they do what they claim. If they do not reach their goal, the doubling and additional points go to the other team. The following statements can be made during the round, with the prescribed limits:

"Re" (pronounced as ray) means the Queens will win. Done before 5th card is on table.
"Contra", or the Queens will lose. Groups vary, but usually also before 5th card.
"No 90", opponents will not get 90 card points. Done by either side before 9th card is on table and only if your team has already stated "Re" or "Contra."
"No 60", same rule as No 90; team has also already claimed "No 90". Done before 13th card is on table.
"No 30", same rule as in No 60. Done before 17th card is on table.
"Black", same rule as in No 60. Done before 21st card is on table.

The round is over and now we see the effects of all of these statements.
For the Queens, or the "Re" team, their win would lead as follows:
Succeeding with "Re" doubles the total game points. Succeeding with any of the later claims adds an additional point before taking "Re" into account.

For the non-Queens, or the "Contra" team, their win is identical:
Succeeding with "Contra" doubles the total game points. Succeeding with any of the later claims adds an additional point before taking "Contra" into account.

For a failed claim, only the last claim has to fail for the loss of the claimants.
For the Queens, or the "Re" team, their loss would have the following effect:
Failing with "Re" doubles the total game points for the "Contra" team. Failing with any of the later claims adds all the additional points before taking "Re" into account to the "Contra" team.

For the non-Queens, or the "Contra" team, their loss is identical:
Failing with "Contra" doubles the total game points for the "Re" team. Failing with any of the later claims adds all the additional points before taking "Contra" into account to the "Re" team.

Example 1: The Queens win with 135 points against the other team's 75. They called "Re" and "No 90" in the course of play. The end results would be:
Winning(1)+opponent was under 90(1)+they called out "No 90"(1) = 3 game points.
This is doubled by "Re", so the end win for the Queen team is 6 game points.

Example 2: The Queens made the same claims, but only received 145 points against the other team's 95. The end results would now fall to the non-Queens, or the "Contra" team because the "No 90" claim was beaten. Basically, the Contra team gets all the points the Re team would have gotten plus an additional point (then doubled) just for beating the Queens. The end results for the non-Queens would now be:
Winning against claim(1)+Beating the Queens(1)+having less than 90(1)+the Queens called out "No 90"(1) = 4 game points.
This is doubled by the failed "Re", so the end win for the Contra team is 8 game points.

Advanced Rules

IX. The Second 10 of Hearts

The first advanced rule I will throw out here is in direct conflict with Rule 2. That is, as the highest trump (so far), the second 10 of Hearts overrules the first. In fact, many groups play with a rule where capturing a 10 of Hearts brings their team an extra point at the end of the hand. Whether you go that far or not, making the 10 of Hearts the exception adds a positive element to the game in any case.

X. The Fox and the Piglet

After the cards are dealt out, one trump stands out for high points and low power, namely, the Ace of Diamonds. Just from the point factor (11 card points), getting at least one of these in a trump trick would be helpful. The card is called a Fox. Very few groups do not reward a team with capturing a Fox from an opponent, giving them an extra point at the end of the hand. The easiest way to preserve your Fox is to play it on a playing card trick you are blank in. Just be careful, because an opponent may be able to play a trump too if they come after you and are also blank in this suit.

In the event you get two foxes in the deal, a potentially weak position as they would both have to saved, you can announce having Piglets. These trumps would become the highest trumps in the game, overruling even the 10 of Hearts! There are two versions of using the piglet rule. The most popular is to announce it before the hand begins as with a wedding. The second is to remain silent, and when you play the first one, then announce it. This tends to happen later in a game to keep it a surprise, and to increase your chance of capturing a good card held back by the other team. The first rule is one that I would highly recommend using, after having played with several different groups.

XI. Charlie

Just what we needed .. another way to get a point or two. Most groups give a special significance to the Jack or Clubs, calling him "Charlie." On the last trick, if Charlie is the highest card, the playing team gets a point. All fine and good. To add a bit of fun to this low-risk point, many groups consider a Charlie won in the last trick "captured" thus giving the other team a point. The best twist of all, is with groups that only on the last trick consider the second Charlie higher than the first, thus giving the team that played the second one two game points! Most groups that play with the "second Charlie" rule consider this the only legitimate way to capture Charlie, so the risk is much lower of giving the other team free points by holding him to the end.

XII. Poverty

Just when you get a hand of the worst cards you could imagine, along comes a rule that can save your butt. "Poverty" is applicable only if you have 3 or fewer trumps. After the players have the chance to declare "solos" or "Piglets," the impoverished individual declares poverty and places the 3 or fewer trumps in from of the player to their left. If this person chooses to accept the poor player as their partner, they can first look at the cards presented, then gives the same number back. If there are any trumps in the cards going back, they declare "1 trump returned" or as applied. The player that accepts a Poverty partner obviously needs to be very strong, as they will be the sole winner of most all tricks. Since their partner has only playing cards, any playing card still in their hand is a weakness. If after the card trade, one partner finds themselves with both foxes (Ace of Diamonds), they remain foxes since they were not both originally dealt to them. The strategy is to allow the partner with trumps to win their partner's high playing cards with their high trumps, and throw away the low playing cards when they play low trumps. This is a great rule, and usually comes up once or twice with a night of play, but many groups do not use it at all. They consider getting bad cards just a part of the game.

XIII. Five Nines

There is one case where the cards are so bad, all of the cards are returned and redealt. This occurs when no player wishes to play a solo (if solos are allowed) and a player has been dealt 5 or more 9's. This is usually announced right after everyone has declared that they have no solo interests. If you are not playing with solos, it would be announced right away. Although getting a hand full of 9's is a really bad situation, many groups do not play with this rule. It is usually the same groups that do not play with Poverty.

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