How to play Spades?
Spades is a trick-taking game for four players.
The players are divided into two teams. Each player is partnered with the player sitting opposite of them. Turtle (You) and Dolphin (computer bot) are one team. The second team consists of Swan and Iguana (the two other computer bots).
The highest card ranking is Ace and the lowest is 2.
Spades are always the trump suit. This means any spade card beats any non-spade card of any rank.
In the game of spades, there are several rounds. Every round is divided into two steps: bidding and playing.
The playing step of each round consists of 13 turns (also called "tricks").
The first player is chosen at random.
After the cards are dealt, every player looks at their cards and announces the number of tricks they think they can win - this is called "bidding". The first player to bid in the first round is chosen randomly. In the next rounds, the turn to bid first rotates clockwise.
Once made, bids cannot be changed.
The goal of the game is for each team to win the combined number of tricks they bid on.
"Nil bid" is a bid of 0 tricks. A player that bids Nil declares they will not win any tricks during the round. There is an extra bonus for a successful Nil bid and a penalty for a failed Nil. The team still needs to win the number of tricks Nil's partner bid on.
If the Nil bidder takes at least one trick, the Nil bid fails.
After the bidding, the round begins. There are 13 tricks in every round. The first player to bid begins the round and can play any card except a spade.
The players play in turns, in a clockwise direction. Each player must play a card of the same suit as the first player, if they have a card of this suit. If a player doesn't have a card of the leading suit, they can play a card of any suit, including spades.
After the first spade card is played, the spades are "broken".
A player can lead spades only after the spades are broken unless all the cards they have left are spades.
If a spade was played during a trick, the player that played the highest spade wins the trick. If no spades were played during a trick, the player that played the highest card of the leading suit wins the trick. The player that wins a trick leads the next one.
- A team that won at least as many tricks as their combined bid gets a score equal to 10 times their bid.
- Any additional tricks over the bid are called bags and are worth one point each. Every time a team accumulates ten or more bags, 100 points are deducted from their score and any bags beyond ten are carried over to the next cycle of ten bags.
- A team that didn't win at least as many tricks as they bid, loses points equal to 10 times their bid.
- A successful Nil bid gives the Nil bidder's team 100 points and a failed Nil bid deducts 100 points from the team's score. This is in addition to the points won or lost by the tricks made by the Nil bidder's partner.
- In our variation of the game, if a nil bid fails, the tricks won by the failed nil bidder count towards making the partner's bid. Any tricks won over the bid are considered bags as usual.
- The case in which a team wins all 13 tricks of a round is called a "Boston".
- The team with the highest score that exceeds 500 points wins the entire game.
- The best strategy of bidding for beginners is to bid 1 for each Ace of non-spade suits and 1 for every high spade (A, K, Q, J and 10). Kings of non-spade suits will sometimes take tricks if the player has several cards of that suit.
- If your team bid Nil, your highest priority should be to protect your team's Nil bid - it has the highest penalty if failed.
- If your partner bid Nil you may need to sacrifice some of your best cards to save the Nil - bid a little lower than you usually would.
- Don't bid Nil if you have obvious winning cards - especially Ace of spades.
- Don't bid Nil if your partner bid Nil - it is almost impossible for a team to avoid winning all 13 tricks.
- "Setting" the opponents - stopping them from reaching their bid - may be worth taking a bag or two.
- If an opponent bid Nil, they will avoid taking tricks at all costs. This may enable you to win tricks cheaply - you may want to bid higher than you usually would.
- Your teammate always uses the most advanced strategies, the difficulty level only affects the opponent players.
- Easy: the opponents will use a beginner strategy for bidding - 1 for each Ace and King of non-spade suits and 1 for every high spade (A, K, Q, J, and 10).
- Medium: the opponents will use a more elaborate strategy for bidding - counting additional possibilities of winning or losing tricks and also taking into account the bids made by other players.
- Hard: the opponents will remember cards played by each player to deduce which cards each player may gave, we will improve this difficulty level over time with new strategies.