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Scopa Card Game: Rules and How to Play?

Also known as the hurricane card game in Germany, this was a popular game in the 1930s. Still, I was surprised to learn that most people in Germany today have never even heard of it. Instead, it has since become a favorite card game in Italy.

This is a perfect game to play with either four or two players and will make the ideal addition to your games night list.

The game’s main aim is to collect as many cards as possible and gather as many points as possible by using different combinations of cards. Some cards are worth extra points, such as sevens and hearts, so keep an eye out for those and collect as many as possible.

There is some skill involved in playing scopa, so it would probably be advised for children ages twelve and up; it will mainly include a certain amount of strategy, and players need to keep their eye on the ball at all times.

Of course, this depends on the child; some under twelve’s might be a whizz at card games. I only say this because my child would have been too easily distracted at this age from personal experience.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are two ways to play Scopa, the original version uses a traditional deck of cards, but the modern-day version has a particular set.

However, for this guide’s purpose, I will stick to the original game; after all, it’s the most traditional and the one I know best.

So, let’s take a look at the logistics of Scopa!

What You’ll Need to Play Scopa?

Although you might need some skills to play Scopa, you’ll be relieved to hear that you don’t need very much equipment.

You’ll need something to keep score with, such as a pen and paper. Personally, I like to use one of these card game score sheets. It keeps all your scores together and saves having scrap pieces of paper lying around.

Spinner Score Sheets

The only other thing you’ll need is a standard deck of 52 cards. As a gaming enthusiast, you likely already have one or more of these lying around the house. Still, if you require a set, they can be picked up pretty cheap on Amazon, such as this Bicycle deck.

On Sale Bicycle Standard Deck of Cards

If you want to play the modern-day version of the game, then look at the Scopa Game Card Set.

On Sale Scopa Traditional Italian Card Game

And that’s all you need. Let’s play.

Getting Ready To Play For Scopa

To begin, you will need to sit opposite another player. If you’re playing with four players, then it will be two opposite two to form two separate teams.

Before you can start, someone will need to ensure all eights, nines, and tens are removed from the deck of cards. You won’t be needing them for this game. This will leave you with a total of 40 cards to play with.

Now, select a dealer who will shuffle the deck and divvy out three cards to each player or nine cards if you’re playing in teams.

Next, the dealer should place four cards in the center of the table, face up, before dealing out three cards to each team. Finally, the cards are placed face-down in the middle of the playing area.

Take Note

In the case of four players, the two teams are dealt nine cards, and only one round takes place.

Card Values

Before I tell you how to play, I will list the points value of each card, which is as follows:

  • Ace = 1 point
  • Two = 2 points
  • Three = 3 points
  • Four = 4 points
  • Five = 5 points
  • Six = 6 points
  • Seven = 7 points
  • Jack = 8 points
  • Queen = 9 points
  • King = 10 points.

If you’re playing with the Scopa game cards, then be sure to check out the specific rules on the box, as they do differ slightly.

Let’s Play Scopa!

Let's Play Scopa!

Okay, so the main idea for the game, to put it simply, is to collect as many points as possible and beat your opponents. This is done by capturing the cards from the middle. However, to achieve this, there are a few rules to follow along the way.

The Rules

To begin with, each player needs to select a card from their hand that they wish to play down. This card can be used in two ways, to fish for a card from the center, or it can be left down for the other players. Depending on the card you’ve played, it could mean you qualify to pick up many cards from the table.

You can do this if your card is the same value as two or more of the cards on the table, in which case you can collect all the cards on the table. This is called a Sweep or a Scopa.

You can also capture cards if the card you played has the same value as any of the other single cards on the table, in which case you can collect one card.

If you can capture a card, then you must complete this action.

If you cannot make any matches, you should place your card face-up in the middle of the playing area for your opponents to see. This means the other players can now capture it. You can, of course, grab your card back on the next turn if you can.

The same rule applies after a player has captured all the cards. Then, the next player must lay down their card face-up to be charged.

Handy Tip

To declare that you’ve captured a Scopa or Sweep, place all the cards in a pile next to you, with the capturing card on top.

Continuing The Game

The game continues this way until they have no cards left in their hand when the dealer will hand them another three cards. After that, any cards in the center of the table awaiting capture should remain in their position.

When no cards are left to deal out, the cards left on the table should be gathered and handed to the previous player to capture cards. Don’t worry; this doesn’t count toward their Sweep collection.

Point Counting – Scoring

This is where the game starts to feel slightly more complex, and some people get somewhat confused over the rules. This is because it’s not quite as simple as totaling your card points. The game is scored as follows:

  • Scopa:- Anyone who has captured a sweep receives one point.
  • Prime:- A prime is a set of four cards, one of each suit. Whoever has the highest prime receives one point. 
  • Coins/Diamonds:- The player with the most Diamond cards wins a point. (In the case of Scopa cards, these will be represented as the coin card).
  • Cards:- Whoever has the most cards in total receives one point.

No player scores the win if there is a tie in the game.

To Win

The player to win Scopa is the first person or team to reach 16 points or more. The rounds should continue until this happens.

A Final Word

I hope that if you were finding the rules of Scopa a little daunting before, my guide has helped set the record straight and show it’s not that complicated after all.

As long as you thoroughly understand the rules before you begin and carefully read the scoring instructions, you should have no problem introducing this game to your friends and family on your next game night.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide, and if you’d like to discover more game rules, check out a couple of my other guides, such as How to Play Concept: A Refreshing Board Game Twist on Charades and Payday Board Game: Rules & Gameplay.

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