Queen's Dungeon

Contributed by Ken Blosser

This game has a little bit of everything. It has a lot of strategy, and a little luck. Some of the biggest strategy comes from knowing when to play a Queen. Some of the luck is just like any other game, getting good cards. In this case getting 3 or 4 Queens in your hand and controlling the flow of the hand. Also, bidding in a trump suit that you happen to get a lot of in your hand.

This is a bidding game and the points come from how many tricks you take (or don't take for dealers), and Queens. As a dealer, you are forced to call trump before the cards are dealt, then you have to take a pre-determined amount of tricks or lose points. The Queens count for 25 points each when you take them in tricks, but like all good things, like candy and champagne, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. That's why if you take 3 or 4 Queens in on one trick, you are sent to the dungeon.

Game Play

I'm going to describe the actual game play, then describe it a second time in further detail. In this way, I hope that 3 or 4 novices can understand game play better and not have to do any guessing.

Queens Dungeon

Standard deck of 52 cards.

Four Players

Object is to be the first to reach 500 points. You may substitute lower point totals or time limits if needed. Player to the left of dealer starts play. Pass out all 52 cards for 4 player game.

  1. Cut cards for dealer, highest card starts. Queen is highest card.
  2. Dealer calls trump suit before dealing cards. Player to dealer's left starts play.
  3. Queens are high card in each suit.
  4. The trump suit queen is highest card.
  5. Any other queen is highest when that suit is led.
  6. Players must follow suit before playing other suits. Except queens may be played any time.
  7. The dealer must take 5 tricks during their hand or go back 50 points.
  8. If the dealer takes at least 5 tricks, they get 10 points a trick and a bonus of 50 points.
  9. Every other player gets 10 points per trick they take.
  10. Each player gets a bonus of 25 points for each queen taken during the hand except for special circumstances.
  11. 2 Queens taken on one trick. The winning player on that play gets 50 points, but the dealer HAS to change the trump suit.
  12. 3 Queens taken on one trick. (Get sent to the Dungeon) The winning player goes back to the lowest total or loses 100 points, whichever is more.
  13. 4 Queens taken on one trick. (Throw away the key Dungeon play) The winning player of this trick will be sent to the dungeon with only very slight possibility of overcoming the setback. They will be set back to zero or lose 250 points, whichever is greater.
  14. Any player including the dealer who loses points, must take the entire loss. Any points from other queens or winning tricks are forfeited.
  15. Reneging will get you sent to the dungeon.

This game can have a lot of strategy. Like forcing the dealer to change suits if they have a good hand or ganging up on a player that has the lead in the game. Players will have to decide whether they want to hang on to their queens, or get rid of them early. A lot will depend on who is leading, who is dealing and being forced into playing one.

  1. Cut cards for dealer, highest card starts. Queen is the highest card.
    It's important that a draw or cut of the cards determine the first dealer because the dealer is usually going to have the disadvantage. The person dealing will rotate around the table clockwise. If two or more players draw the same card, those players draw again until only one person has the high card.
  2. Dealer calls trump suit before dealing cards. Player to dealer's left starts play.
    Yes, the dealer has to call trump blind., before they know what their hand is like.
  3. Queens are high card in each suit.
    The order of cards in each suit from high to low is QAKJ1098765432.
  4. The trump suit queen is highest card.
    If Diamonds is called trump, the Queen of Diamonds is the highest card in the deck and can take anything. Also, trump must be broken (played on another trick) before leading it out unless the player leading has all trump left.
  5. Any other queen is highest when that suit is led.
    The Queen is highest in its suit and will take any tricks in the suit that is led unless a trump card is played. So if Diamonds are trump and the Queen of Spades is the high card on the trick so far, the 2 of Diamonds will take the trick if played.
  6. Players must follow suit before playing other suits. Except queens may be played any time.
    You have to follow the suit that is led except for Queens. Queens may be played at any time even if another suit is led and you have that suit. You do have to play a Queen though if a suit is led and the Queen is the last card you have in that suit and you don‘t have any other Queens. Example: If Diamonds are led and all you have is the Queen of Diamonds, you have to play it unless you play another Queen.
    Note: since queens can be played at any time, it is legal to lead the queen of trumps even if trumps have not been broken. This can be dangerous, however, because two or three other players might choose to throw their queens on it rather than following suit, thereby sending you to the dungeon.
  7. The dealer must take 5 tricks during their hand or go back 50 points.
    Four player game, the dealer must take 5 tricks or go back 50 points. You have to go back the whole 50. You don't get any credit for tricks taken or Queens taken. Those points are forfeited.
  8. If the dealer takes at least 5 tricks, they get 10 points a trick and a bonus of 50 points.
    If the dealer makes the five tricks, they get a bonus of 50 points plus 10 points for each trick taken. Also they get credit for any queens they took in. So 100 points and 25 points for each Queen taken in.
  9. Every other player gets 10 points per trick they take.
    Pretty self explanatory, since there is no bidding in this game, each player gets 10 points per trick plus the bonus of any queens taken in.
  10. Each player gets a bonus of 25 points for each queen taken during the hand except for special circumstances.
    Queens taken in individually or in pairs count 25 points each.
  11. 2 Queens taken on one trick. The winning player on that play gets 50 points, but the dealer HAS to change the trump suit.
    If any player takes in 2 queens on one trick, they get the 25 points per queen (50 points) and the dealer HAS to change the trump suit. This is where some of the strategy starts. If you think the dealer has a good hand, the players can gang up to force a switch in the trump suit. It also leaves an option open for the dealer if they can get the two queens played, then they can change the trump suit to something better. It has to be changed though. The change takes effect on the next trick.
  12. 3 Queens taken on one trick. (Get sent to the Dungeon) The winning player of that trick goes back to the lowest total or loses 100 points, whichever is more.
    If you take a trick in that has 3 queens, you get sent to the dungeon. Too much of a good thing is bad sometimes and in this case it's very bad. You either get sent back 1 point below the low player at the time or lose 100 points, whichever is greater. Set the player's score at the end of that trick. If it's the last trick in the hand, set the player's score before adding in everyone else's.
  13. 4 Queens taken on one trick. (Throw away the key Dungeon play) The winning player of this trick will be sent to the dungeon with only very slight possibility of overcoming the setback. They will be set back to zero or lose 250 points, whichever is greater.
    The reason for this drastic of a penalty is because I don't think it will happen very much in the normal course of the game, especially with only four players. That would mean the person leading the trick would have to lead out a queen and each of the others has one queen, which they play. I can see it happening more on 5-8 player games. The only other way is everyone is able to keep hold of their queens until the last trick in the hand, again pretty remote when you have to follow suit. Set the player's score at the end of that trick. If it's the last trick in the hand, set the player's score before adding in everyone else's.
  14. Any player including the dealer who loses points, must take the entire loss. Any points from other queens or winning tricks are forfeited.
    If you lose points on a trick, that amount can be written down on your score. Any tricks or queens you take in are sacrificed. The only option you have is to continue to try to take tricks and queens so that is less points the other players will get.
  15. Reneging will get you sent to the dungeon.
    If a player reneges, it depends on the time it's found out that the penalties invoked. If a player realizes they reneged before the next player lays down a card, they can replace a card without penalty. If they realize after other cards has been played on that trick, they may voluntarily accept a 25 point penalty and all cards in that hand may be replayed from the time the player reneged.
    Once a new trick has started, the player that reneged will be assessed a 100 point penalty or be placed at low score, whichever is greater, as soon as the reneging is found out. No tricks or queens taken during that time will count for the reneging person's score.
    If it is discovered after the hand is over that a player reneged, no penalty is taken, because the proof is gone. Remember, a Queen may be played at any time except if it is the last card you have in a suit and that was the leading suit, it must be played (Unless you play another Queen).

Strategies

  1. In the game I played with family, we found ways to help our own cause out. By holding onto the trump queen, you're better able to find a time you can grab two queens. Recognizing when the others may be out of a suit I'm sure will help too.
  2. Other things I've noticed is that Jacks tend to take the first trick very often. That's what is nice about having Aces and Kings as the second and third highest cards in the rank. You're afraid to play them when a Queen can take them. Often later on, there seems to be a lot of low cards taking tricks. As much as you try to avoid it, the high cards always seem to come out together.
  3. A lot can be said for just going for the Queens and not worrying so much about taking a certain amount of tricks. If you take 2 Queens on one trick, that's 60 points. If you can load up with Queens in other hands, losing that 50 points on your deal won't seem so bad.
  4. Sometimes you have a chance to get the trump changed when you're not the dealer. It's a guessing game most of the time. I've been sitting there when someone was deciding whether to put that second queen on. I'm just thinking "Please don't make them change it". I've also been the dealer thinking "Play that Queen and you'll be sorry". It is with these thoughts that I should forewarn you: don't tip your hand because it'll ruin the game (like shaking your head no or yes when the player is deciding).
  5. There are ways to gang up on players without tipping your hand. This is by letting your opponent take a trick thereby saving a good card in your hand for future use.
  6. While you don't want you to tip off your hand, it's still fine to bluff and that is one of the things that will make the game fun.
  7. If you have very observant players, there are occasions that the Dungeon play can be made. Be careful though, because you don't want to send yourself there.
  8. If you are the dealer and you make your tricks, you can gain the upper hand in the game, especially if you are the last to have to deal.

Variations

  • 2 Players, Pretty much the same as 3 player except you play with a "dummy" hand. The dummy hand doesn't have to follow suit and of course doesn't deal. Whoever deals, always sets the dummy hand to their right. That will make the game play fair for both players. When it's the dummy's turn to play a card, simply take the top card off the top.
  • 3 players, Dealer has to take 7 tricks and get rid of one of the 2 cards from the deck. Doesn't matter which one.
  • 5 players, Dealer has to take 4 tricks and you can get rid of two 2's from the deck.
  • 6 players, Dealer has to take 3 tricks and you can get rid of all the 2's from the deck.
  • 7 players, Dealer has to take 2 tricks and get rid of three 2's
  • 8 players, Dealer has to take 2 tricks and you take all the 2's out of the deck.

Dealer still gets a bonus of 50 points for getting the mandatory tricks plus 10 points per trick and queen points. You may have to have lower winning totals for these games. I leave it to your discretion.

An option to consider would be to pass all the cards out evenly and let the dealer sort through the remaining cards with the option to switch.

Partners: In a partners 4 player game, you combine your points for the total score. The dealer still has to get the correct amount of tricks, but the partner can help that out by not taking tricks where the dealer has current high card. Of course, that could backfire also. By not taking that trick, the opponent may be able to take it if the partner isn't the last player to play.

Another variant would be to have a Queen's Challenge. When one of the players has reached at least 400 points, the low scoring player in the game can announce the Queen's Challenge if they have the lead. When announcing that, each player must play a queen if they have one. If a player has more than one queen, it's up to that player as to which queen is played. The scoring will take place as in the instructions above. It doesn't matter if the challenging player has a queen, but if they do, they must play it.

Variation of the 3 player game: Pass out the cards as if playing a 4 player game. You will one extra pile of cards. The dealer gets a choice of accepting the hand they dealt themselves or exchanging it for the extra hand. The only cost is that the dealer will have to take an extra trick to make their quota. Since there are four hands dealt out, the dealer will have to take 5 tricks or 6 tricks if they exchange the card for the extra hand. This variant is more challenging than the original 3 player game. It has been the game my family plays when only three players.