Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mitigati (a 3-player card game)

By Master Rufus

Mitigati is one of a series of card games which developed in Europe based on the Tarot deck (the fortune telling aspects of the deck came later).  It combines the best parts of bridge and poker, and is a lot of fun once you remember the scoring system.

The Deck

The tarot deck consists of four suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades  or sometimes cups, coins, wands, and swords) of 14 cards each (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, page, knight, queen, king), plus a fifth trump suit of 21 cards and the fool.  The trump suit is commonly illustrated, with some decks also giving a name to each card (eg the lovers).


Mitigati is a trick taking game.  At the end of play, each player will add up the value of the cards taken. However, knowing the value of the hand you were dealt is essential in the bidding process.

Kings, 1 of trump, 21 of trump - 5
Queens , Fool - 4
Knights - 3
Pages - 2
Every other card - 1

This provides a total of 129 points available in the deck.

There are also some additional honours points which are displayed and scored with the first card played by each player.

All four kings - 20 points from each player 
1 of trump, 21 of trump and Fool - 15 points from each player
Any four of the above 7 cards - 10 points from each player
(Any extra honours card scores an extra five points from each player)
10 or more trump (the Fool counts as a trump only if it is the 10th card) - 1 point each

For exmaple:  If a player holds 4 kings, the 1 and 21 of trump, they would score a total of 30 points from each player (20+5+5 for the two extra honours). This means they would go up 60 and each of the other players would go down 30.

The Bidding

The dealer deals out 10 cards to each player and the person to the left of the dealer will start the bidding with the bidding going clockwise. As mentioned above there are a total of 129 points available.  This means an average of 43 points per person.  As such, the bidding is done relative to 43.  For example, if I were to bid +20, that means that I believe I will capture cards worth 63 points.

Each player can bid positive, negative, zero or ask for more cards.  The bidding continues around the circle until someone asks for more cards or the total of the bids equals zero.  You may not bid higher if the bidding comes full circle, but you may lower your bid. If the total of the bids equals zero, it means that you have agreed on the value of your hands.  At this point, the score would be written down and a brand new hand would be dealt - the hand is not played out. If someone asks for more cards, five more cards are dealt and the bidding is repeated. Again, you may ask for more cards.  Another five cards are dealt and there is a final round of bidding. If there is no agreement on the score, the remaining cards are dealt out - five to each player with the dealer getting the extra three cards, and the hand is then played out. The bidding has no influence on the actual play, so feel free to bid "creatively" - bluffing is a big part of this game.

The Play

The play starts to the left of the dealer, after the dealer has picked three cards to discard (remember they had extra cards at the end of the deal). Those three cards are scored by the dealer at the end of the game.  You may not discard any kings or trump. Remember that any honours need to be declared with the first card played. Each player must follow the suit led.  The highest card takes the trick, and that player would then lead the next card. You may not play trump unless you are void in the suit led. If you do not have the suit led, you must play trump.  If you do not have any trump either, then you may play any card remaining. The exception to this is the fool, it may be played at any time, but is always scored by the person who played it, even though it can never take a trick.  If the Fool is led at the beginning of a round, the next person to the left is considered to have the "lead card".

When all the cards are played, each player scores the cards in their tricks, and the deal proceeds to the next player.

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