Recruit Rules

Play this trick-taking game for 2-4 players with a standard 54-card deck. Score points by collecting cards during tricks. But collecting more than 1 of the same face card (Jack / Queen / King) will cost you points. The game ends after 4 hands.

Setting up each hand

Randomly select the first dealer. Each hand, the next player clockwise becomes the dealer.

Before the first hand, remove 1 joker from the deck.

Shuffle the other 53 cards, including 1 joker. Deal 13 cards to each player.

Display 1 card from the deck, which determines the trump suit. If this displayed card is the joker, then there is no trump suit.

Swap cards as follows…

  • With 2-3 players: The dealer sets the remaining deck of cards face-down. Each player may select and discard up to 4 cards from their hand, then draw to replace those with an equal number of random cards from the deck.
  • With 4 players: Each player is the partner of the opposite player across the table. Each player must select and pass exactly 4 cards face down to their partner, then receive 4 face-down cards from their partner into their hand.

Players then proceed to play 13 tricks.

Playing each trick

In clockwise order, players play one card from their hand face-up onto the table. The player to the dealer’s left leads the first trick; in subsequent tricks, the winner of the previous trick leads.

The leader’s card determines the “lead suit” of the trick. If possible, each player must play a card (face-up) that follows this suit. If a player cannot follow suit, then they may play any card.

After everyone has played a card:

  • If anyone played the joker, then that player collects the trick.
  • Otherwise, the player with the highest card of the trump suit collects the trick. Cards rank from highest to lowest as follows: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, … 2.
  • Otherwise, if nobody played the joker or a trump card, then the player with the highest card of the lead suit collects the trick.

Each player places collected tricks in a personal face-down pile. (Partners in a 4-player game have separate piles.) You may look at your collected cards.

Scoring the hand

Each player scores after playing all 13 tricks of the hand. In a 4-player game, partners score their hands separately.

Score 1 point per card collected.

For each rank of face card (Jack / Queen / King), lose 5 points if you have more than 1 of that rank.

Examples:

  • If your collected cards are 3, 6, 8, Jack, and King, score 5 points for these 5 cards.
  • If your collected cards are 3, 6, 8, Jack, and 2 Kings, score 6 points for these 6 cards, then lose 5 points due to having multiple Kings, yielding 1 point.
  • If your collected cards are 3, 6, 8, 2 Jacks and 3 Kings, score 8 points for these 8 cards, then lose 10 points due to having multiple Jacks and multiple Kings, yielding -2 points.

Winning the game

Accumulate points over 4 hands. Sum the points of partners after 4 hands. The player(s) with the highest total points win.

Variations

While dealing cards, before displaying the trump-suit card, the dealer may declare that one or more of the following variations shall apply during that hand.

  • Low Penalty: Instead of losing 5 points, you only lose 3 points if you have more than 1 of the same face card (Jack/ Queen / King).
  • Keeper: Nobody gets to swap cards during the hand’s setup. You just play using the 13 cards that you were dealt.
  • Passer: Instead of swapping cards as in the standard rules, each player passes exactly 4 cards face-down to the player on their left (clockwise), then receives 4 from the player to the right.
  • Match: Score 4 points per card that you collect with the same rank as the card displayed by the dealer at the start of the hand.
  • Dream Team: When scoring the hand, score a bonus of 5 points if you collected exactly 1 Jack, 1 Queen, and 1 King (i.e., no more than 1 of each).
  • Face-up: Players store collected cards face-up rather than face-down, thereby eliminating the need to memorize them.