A typical Skat hand (German-suited cards)
|Skills required||Hand evaluation, counting, cooperation|
|Deck||French or German-suited "Skat" pack|
|Card rank (highest first)||(U/J) A 10 K O/Q 9 8 7|
|Playing time||3–5 minutes per hand played|
Bierlachs, also Bierskat or Lachs, is a variant of Germany's national card game, Skat, that is predominantly played for beer in pubs and restaurants.
A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games. A small number of card games played with traditional decks have formally standardized rules, but most are folk games whose rules vary by region, culture, and person. Games using playing cards exploit the fact that cards are individually identifiable from one side only, so that each player knows only the cards he holds and not those held by anyone else. For this reason card games are often characterized as games of chance or “imperfect information”—as distinct from games of strategy or “perfect information,” where the current position is fully visible to all players throughout the game.
Skat is a 3-player trick-taking card game of the Ace-Ten family, devised around 1810 in Altenburg in the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. It is the national game of Germany and, along with Doppelkopf, it is the most popular card game in Germany and Silesia. It is considered one of the best and most interesting card games for 3 players.
The name is a corruption of Bierlatz; latzen is colloquial German for "paying" e.g. a fineand alludes to the fact that the loser pays for a round of beer.
The game is recorded as Bierlachs or Lachs as early as 1862 where, depending on the beverage being played for, it was also referred to as Weinlachs ("Wine Round") or Kaffeelachs ("Coffee Round").
The following rules are based on Lehnhoff except where stated.
Bierlachs follows the general rules for Skat, except in terms of scoring and winning. A target score is set and only minus scores are reckoned. In other words, if the declarer wins a deal worth 40 points, the two opponents score the minus 40 points each. If the declarer loses such a game, he is penalised double (as in Skat) and scores minus 80 points.
The game is played until one of the players reaches the (minus) target; he is the loser and pays for a round of beer, hence the name "Bierlachs". Sometimes a fixed payment is made to the Skatkasse, also called the Pinke,i.e. Skat pot.
Game is typically 501 points.
As a player nears the target score, he is forced to try and win the auction in order not to collect any more minus points. This often leads to a willingness to take more and more risk, sometimes resulting in desperate games being played.However, a player in the danger zone will also find that his opponents are increasingly risk-averse and reluctant to bid. This may give him a chance to draw an opponent into the danger zone as well. But if an opponent wins, the endangered player is likely to be pushed over the limit and thus lose the game. As Lehnhoff suggests, such a game is not without its appeal and it can be exciting to see someone in the danger zone snatch victory from the jaws of defeat or a relief to survive and see one's "Skat brother go for a swim". There is usually a moral obligation to play another game to allow the loser to enjoy a free beer. When a Bierlachs session ends is a matter for agreement but, typically, when one or more players decide they need to go, they will announce the last 3 deals. These are usually played as Bock rounds, in which the game value doubles, giving the player who is losing a chance to catch up.
Games may also be played for 301 or 401 points. It is common to add the date of the month to the target, for example:
Schafkopf, Schaffkopf or Schafkopfen, also called Bavarian Schafkopf to distinguish it from German Schafkopf, is a late 18th-century German trick-taking card game of the Ace-Ten family, still very popular in Bavaria, where it is their national card game, but also played in other parts of Germany as well as other German-speaking countries like Austria. It is an official cultural asset and important part of the Old Bavarian and Franconian way of life. Schafkopf is a mentally demanding game that is considered "the supreme discipline of Bavarian card games".
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Elfern, also known as Eilfern, Figurenspiel or Elfmandeln, is a German and Austrian 6-card, no-trump, trick-and-draw game for two players using a 32-card, French-suited, Piquet pack or German-suited Skat pack. The object is to win the majority of the 20 honours: the Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten in a Piquet pack or the Ace, King, Ober, Unter and Ten in a Skat pack.
Réunion, Reunion or Vereinigungsspiel is an historical German point-trick game for three players which, despite its French name, appears to have originated in the Rhineland. It is a 10-card game of the Ace-Ten family and uses a 32-card French-suited piquet pack or 32-card Skat pack. Players who cannot follow suit must trump. Otherwise the game can be described as a simplified version of Skat, but is also reminiscent of Euchre with its two permanent top trumps, the Right and Left Bowers.
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German Schafkopf is an old German card game and the forerunner of the popular modern games of Skat, Doppelkopf and Bavarian Schafkopf. Today it is hardly ever played in its original form, but there are a number of regional derivations.
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Strohmandeln, also called Strohmanntarock, Strawman Tarock or Straw Man Tarock, is a two-hand card game from the Austrian branch of the Tarock family. It takes its name from the three-packet talon of four cards, the Strohmänner ("strawmen"), each player has at the start of the game.
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Quodlibet is a traditional card game associated with central European student fraternities that is played with William Tell pattern cards and in which the dealer is known as the 'beer king'. It is a compendium, trick-taking game for 4 players using a 32-card pack of double German playing cards.
Solo 66 is a trick-taking, Ace-Ten, card game for five players in which a soloist always plays against the other four. It is based on the rules of Germany's national game, Skat, and is played with a French-suited Skat pack of 32 cards. Bidding is for the trump suit. Jacks are ranked within their respective suits and do not form additional trumps over and above the cards of the trump suit. Grupp describes it as "an entertaining game for a larger group."
Officers' Schafkopf, or Two-Hand Schafkopf, is a German point-trick, card game for two players which is based on the rules of Schafkopf. The game is a good way to learn the trumps and suits for normal Schafkopf and to understand what cards one is allowed to play.
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Schwimmen or Einunddreißig is a gambling card game for two to nine players played with a 32-card Piquet pack which is popular in Austria and Germany. Although it is also called Einunddreißig, this should not be confused with a predecessor of Siebzehn und Vier (Twenty-One), also called Einunddreißig. Schwimmen is German for "swimming" which refers to the last chance that a player gets before they drop out.
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