And We Thought 80s Games Were Old…
As much as we love to feature some of the most beloved classics from the arcade era, we have to show respect for really old games like Hearts. Don’t mistake its age for a sign of dullness, however, because this 270-year-old card game has stuck around for a reason – it’s super fun! How else would it have survived for so long? Speaking of, Hearts was originally based on a game called “Reversis” that became popular in 18th-century Spain. It was most commonly played with four players, but you can bring in as many people as you want, as long as it’s three or more. Anyway, this isn’t so much a history lesson as it is an introduction to our version of this awesome game. That being said, let’s explain a little more about the game so that you can jump right in if you’ve never played it before. Ready to get old school?
Easy to Play, Hard to Win
First and foremost, we have to explain to you the overall concept of the game. This will make it easier for you to understand why the rules are structured the way that they are. So, the easiest way for us to remember the scoring is to think of golf – the lower your score, the better. There are ways to earn points in this game, often called “winning tricks,” and you want to avoid that. At the end of the game, you want to be the person at the table (whether it’s real or digital) who has the least amount of tricks won. Everyone tallies up their scores during and after the game to make sure it’s up to date, and at the end, the biggest loser wins! Make sense? It will hopefully make more sense after we explain the specifics of the Hearts game setup.
How the Game Starts
If you’re playing with four people, then each player gets 13 cards in their hand. At the beginning of a round, you have what’s called the “pass.” Each player chooses three cards to pass to their left (if it’s the first round. The second round passes to the right, third round straight across, and fourth no passing). Once the pass is complete, the player who has the two of clubs will start the first “trick” by laying it on the table. The other players then need to lay down clubs until all four have played. If a player doesn’t have a card of the same suit to play, they can play a card of a different suit. The person who laid down the highest club (or whatever suit) “wins” the trick, but remember, you don’t want to win! The person who wins the trick then begins the next trick.
Rules and Restrictions
If you’re going to win this game, like we mentioned, you will need to avoid scoring points, which means you’ll need to avoid winning tricks. Still, it’s not the end of the world if you win a trick, because only hearts and the queen of spades (also known as the Black Maria) are worth points. After each hand, players will tally their scores and then move on to the next hand. The scores from each hand add up until the agreed-upon limit is reached. Each heart left in your hand is worth one point, and the Black Maria is worth a whopping thirteen points! You definitely don’t want to have this particular queen in your hand at the end. Well, there is one exception to this, and it’s called shooting the moon. Still confused? Don’t worry, we’re almost to the end! Speaking of, how on Earth does this game end if people just keep passing cards to each other?
How the Game Ends
In most cases of Hearts, whether it’s a free online version of the game or a real-life card game, you will set the maximum score at a hundred. Once a player reaches a score of 100, the game is over. Since that player was the first to achieve such a high score, they of course lose, so it’s up to the rest of the players to tally their scores and declare the winner. Whoever has the lowest score wins, and that’s that. Now, remember how we said that you don’t want that queen (or those hearts) unless you’re “shooting the moon”? Here’s what we mean: If you can collect all the hearts and the queen of spades, you will be able to subtract 26 points from your score! It makes for a really fun end-game twist if you can shoot the moon and surprise everybody, but it’s not without its risks.
What Else Can That Deck Do?
Now that you know how to play Hearts online, we encourage you to beef up your skill set by playing again and again and again. Besides, you’ll find it super hard to put down anyway. When you’re finally ready to take on new challenges in the arena of card games, we’ve got you covered. Check out our card games category to find dozens of other titles to keep you busy for hours! Some are old and classic, but some have new twists and turns that just may throw you for a loop. Find your favorite play style and master it or become a “jack of all trades” (pun intended). Until then, we’ll see you at the Hearts table.