Napoleon card game, also known as Nap, is an easy yet fun, bidding, and trick-taking game played between two to six players. The napoleon card game dates back to the late 1800s, well after Napoleon’s death.
The use of chips for scorekeeping purposes and the use of Blucher and Wellington (generals in Napoleon’s times) while bidding adds an extra layer of intrigue to the game. Nap is closely related to the Euchre game, with several variations in Northern Europe. If you have played the Bridge or Whist card game, you will find Nap relatively easy and fast-paced. Here’s how you can get started and learn how to play the napoleon card game.
Napoleon Card Game Rules
Napoleon is played between two or more players, ideally five, using a standard deck of 52 cards and poker chips. Every player is distributed an equal number of chips before the game starts, and the game is settled in chips after every deal.
The game ranks Ace as the highest-value card and two as the lowest-value card. Cards are ranked in descending order as Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. The trump suit cards outrank all other cards in the game, irrespective of suit.
To increase the skill factor and complexity of the game, players may choose to agree to remove the lower-value cards from the game. For instance, three players may play with 24 cards from Ace to 9, four players may play with 28 cards from Ace to 8, and five players may play with 28 or 32 cards from Ace to 7.
Further, if the players choose to add a joker in the deck, it will be the highest trump.
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Before the game begins, a dealer is selected from among the players. To decide upon the dealer, each player chooses a random card from the shuffled deck, and the player with the lowest-value card becomes the dealer. If there’s a tie, the players must draw cards again. The dealer then shuffles the deck and deals a set of three cards and then a set of two cards to each player, face-down. Therefore, every player is dealt five cards.
The deal and play continue clockwise, and the next turn to deal cards passes to the player on the dealer’s left.
The objective of Nap is to bid and win tricks. The players play cards in the center and win tricks by playing the highest-ranking card (if no trump suit is played). If any player plays a trump card, the highest-ranking trump card in the lead suit wins the trick.
The player seated at the dealer’s left starts the bidding process. The player can either make a bid or pass it on to the next player. The bid implies the number of tricks, out of five tricks, that a player believes they can win in that particular round. Each player may make one bid or pass. The highest bidder amongst all players is the bid winner. A bid of five tricks is called Nap.
How to Play Napoleon Game?
The highest bidder leads the first trick by playing a card. The card suit led becomes the trump suit of the game. Once the first player plays a card, the other players follow suit (if possible) and play a card each. If a player cannot follow suit, they can play any other card (even a trump card).
The player to play the highest-value card (in rank) wins the trick (if no trump card is played). If one or more players play a trump card, the highest-ranking trump card wins the trick.
The player that wins the trick leads the next trick. The play continues until the players have played all the cards in hand.
Keeping the Score
Unlike Spades games, the players don’t score extra points for winning extra tricks above the bid. The score of the players is calculated as follows:
- If the highest bidder wins an equal number of tricks as bid, they score an equal number of points.
- If the highest bidder fails to win an equal number of bids, the other players receive the bidder’s points.
- If the highest bidder doesn’t win a Napoleon bid, the other players score 5 points.
- If the highest bidder doesn’t win a Wellington bid, the other players score 10 points.
- If the highest bidder doesn’t win a Blucher bid, the other players score 20 points.
- If a player wins a Nap, Blucher, or Wellington, they score 10 points.
- If a player fails to win all five tricks (Nap, Wellington, or Blucher), they must pay five chips each to all the players.
- The first player to score 30 points wins the game.
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If a player fails to follow suit to the lead when a card is available, it is called a revoke. A revoking bidder must pay the penalty to all the other players as if he lost. That player also pays the bidder an amount he would have collected had he won. In such cases, the play is abandoned, and the settlement is done immediately.
What are the Variations of Napoleon Game?
There are several variations of the game that involve subtle changes in a few rules. Some of the variations include the following:
In this variation, the dealer places a single card, face-down, to the side after dealing cards. The highest bidder gets a chance to look at the card and trade it with another card in hand if they feel that the card will improve their hand.
In the Sir Garnet variation, the dealer deals an extra 5-card pile, placed at the side, face-down. Any player who wants to bid Napoleon has the option to swap any of their cards with the cards in this pile, provided that the player still has five cards later. However, if a player bids Napoleon but fails, they must pay double.
Each player, except the dealer, places an equal bet in the pot in this casino version. The dealer must match the pot during his turn, and the pot goes to the player who makes Napoleon bid successfully. However, the player must pay double the pot if they fail to make the napoleon bid.
What is Wellington in Napoleon card game?
When a player bids to win all five tricks in the Napoleon card game, it is called Wellington. Upon bidding Wellington, the player must play the lowest-value trump card. If the player fails to make a Wellington, the stakes are double of Napoleon. A player can bid Wellington only after one play has bid Nap.
What is Blucher in Napoleon card game?
In the Napoleon card game, if you bid Blucher, it means you have bid to win all five tricks. A player can bid Blucher only after a player has bid Wellington.