Wizard sort of borrows some different aspects of other card games. It is very similar to games like Oh Hell, Spades, Whist, and Eucre in certain ways. It sort of combines some of the aspects of each of those games. The goal in the game is to make a bid after you view your hand, and then take that exact number of tricks during the game. With three to six people playing the game though you could have up to five opponents not only trying to make their bid but also make you go over or under yours!
The game includes 60 cards. There are 13 cards in each of four suits numbered from one to thirteen. Along with these cards there are eight special cards. These are four wizards, and four jesters. To win a trick you need to play the highest card in the suit led. Of course with the special cards there are a couple little twists. The wizard card is a “top trump” and will win any trick. Unlike the normal trump suit you don’t need to be out of the suit that was led to play the wizard card, you can play it anytime you wish. If two wizard cards are played to the same trick, the first wizard wins. If anyone leads a wizard card to a trick all the other players can play any card from their hand they wish. Jester cards are the opposite of wizards. They will guarentee you lose a trick, well 99% of the time. The only way a jester card can win a trick is if it is led and everyone else also plays a jester card to that trick. As you know there are only four jester cards in the deck so this can’t happen in five and six player games.
In the first round each player gets 2 cards, this increases by one card for each round, until in the final round all the cards are dealt. All players get the same number of cards. Any remaining cards are put in the middle of the table. The top card is flipped over to determine trump for that round. If it is a wizard the dealer can look at his hand and declare trump. If it is a jester then there is no trump that round. Because all the cards are dealt in the last round there is no trump in that round. After trump is revealed everyone makes their bids. The hand is played out for the number of tricks that were dealt.
At the end of the round anyone that makes their bid exactly gets a 20 point bonus and 10 points for every trick they won. Anyone that doesn’t take the tricks they predicted loses 10 points for each trick over or below their prediction that they took. After the final round the scores are added up and a winner is determined.
There are some variations you can play to make the game more interesting. These are both sort of advanced variations and I’d wait until everyone feels comfortable playing the basic game. The first is that instead of announcing their bid everyone writes it down and places their bid face down in front of them. Bids are not revealed until the end of the hand. Another variation is that the number of tricks bid must be at least one more than the number of cards dealt (this rule is not applied if you play the variation I just mentioned). The dealer bids last and they are required to at least bring the total bid of the table to one above the number of cards dealt. Remember though everyone will be dealer a few times so it’s not like one person gets that disadvantage every time.
This game is great for those that enjoy trick taking games. It is very affordable also. You should be able to find it for under $10. I will say this though, the game is not for everyone. If they don’t like trick taking games then odds are they will not get into this game. Have fun playing, and remember you can always make up your own variations if you want add variety to the game.