Napoleon’s card game dates back to the late 1970s. It’s an exciting and lively game that some people may find confusing when first looking over the rules.
So, throughout this guide, I have broken the rules down so that you can learn how to play Napoleon in a simple, easy-to-understand way.
I will tell you everything you need to know regarding gameplay, what you’ll need, how to set up, and how to make bids and win the game.
So, let’s look at how to play the Napoleon card game.
Napoleon Card Game Overview
Once the rules have been made clear, Napoleon is a very straightforward game that involves making bids and trick-taking.
The required number of players for this game is five, so it’s perfect for playing with a group or with the family after dinner. Plus, it only requires a standard deck of cards, so it’s straightforward to get started.
The game works using bids and payouts, and the game’s main aim is to decide the best time to place bids and take scoring cards in tricks.
If you have ever played the card game Euchre, then you’ll be glad to hear that Napoleon is similar to that, only a little bit simpler.
This once popular English game, which also goes by the name “to go nap,” has kind of gone out of fashion over the years, which is why I thought this would be a great chance to tell you all about it and bring it back into the world of card games.
So, let’s learn how to play the card game, Napoleon.
What You’ll Need to Play?
To play Napoleon, you will need a single deck of playing cards. However, if you don’t already own a deck, you can easily acquire one from online suppliers such as Amazon.
You will also need something to bid on, such as chips or money.
Setting Up The Game
Firstly, you will need to select an allocated dealer, and you can pick this person at random, flip a coin, or choose the oldest or youngest person in the group, whatever you please.
The dealer should shuffle the deck and hand all players ten cards each. After this, there will be two cards left over. These should be placed in the center of the playing area, face down, and are known as the “blind” cards.
After the dealer has given out the cards, each player will take turns placing bids. The player sitting to the dealer’s left goes first, and then the following player has the chance to bid higher or pass their turn. Remember that you must sit out of that bidding round if you pass your turn.
A bid includes numbers between eleven and twenty and one suit. I will go into more details about the ranking of the cards below, so don’t fret if you aren’t following just yet, but to give you an idea, the twenty spades are the highest.
Eleven clubs are the lowest, so to be able to bid, you need to increase either the value or the rank of the suit. The number will be the number of cards you’ll win the round with, and the suit will set the trump.
If nobody can bid and everyone passes, all the cards should be returned to the dealer, and you can restart the game.
After the first four players have bid or passed, the fifth player is the “Napoleon” and will now select a partner. This is done by the Napoleon calling out any card of their choosing. Whoever has this card in their hand becomes their partner.
The Napoleon will now pick up the two blind cards and place them into their deck, discarding two cards from their current hand. If the two discarded cards are “score” cards, then they should be placed in the center of the table, face-up. If they aren’t, discard them to one side, face-down.
Scoring Cards And Ranks
Firstly, the ranking of the cards in Napoleon is the standard rule of Ace being high and two being low, but in the game, the suits also rank high to low, Spades are high, and Clubs, Diamonds, and Hearts are low.
Some cards can be used to beat trump, such as the Ace of Spades, the highest card in the game. This will beat any other card during bidding. Also, the Jack of the same suit as the trump is the second-highest card. A jack, the same color as the trump suit, ranks third highest.
Rules & Gameplay
Now that you’ve established the Napoleon and their partner, the Napoleon will now lead the first trick and place down their card, and each player afterward should then place down a card, trying to match the suit of lead. (If you can’t do this, you can place down any card.)
The winner of the first trick is the player who puts down the highest card matching the Napoleon’s leading suit, and the winner should collect the pile and lead the next trick.
From here on is where the unique cards, ranks, and trumps are applied. An additional rule comes into play, called the rule of two. This means that if all the cards played in a trick are of the same rank, then the two of that suit become the fourth highest card after the Jack.
If a player has the Ace of Spades, they will automatically win the game, which will beat any previous card. If the Ace isn’t played, then the Jack of the trump suit will win the trick. After that, it will be the same colored trump and the highest-ranked trump. Finally, the highest card of the lead suit will win.
The trick’s winner should collect, score their cards, and discard any remaining cards. The winner will now lead the next trick.
At the end of the game, players should score their cards. For example, if the Napoleon and their partner won all the cards they bid, they should receive a stake from each player, two for the Napoleon and one for the partner.
If the Napoleon and his partner lose, on the other hand, they should give each other player stakes, two each from the Napoleon and one each from their partner.
Also, if the Napoleon won all twenty cards, but did not bid them all, then they need to pay the same stakes to each player.
The payouts are doubled if there is a successful bid of twenty cards.
You can play the game for as long as you like, and it remains ongoing until players wish to drop out or all players agree to end the game.
So, that’s how you play the Napoleon card game. Hopefully, after reading this information, you’ve now got a good idea of how to play the game, and you will include it in your next game night.
If you enjoyed reading this and want to learn about more trick-taking games, you should learn how to play Spades.