Dreeg

Introduction

Dreeg is a card game for four or three players which is primarily played in and around Nuremberg in Germany (in Franconia and the neighbouring Upper Palatinate). Its name is a dialect form of 'Dreck' which means 'trash' or 'muck' and it is sometimes more formally known as 'Nürnberger Dreck'. It is a composite of several different games, all based on the well-known German card game Sechsundsechzig (66).

The description on this page is based on information from Jens Meder, who learned Dreeg as a child from his grandfather, who was born in Gunzenhausen, married in Nuremberg, and moved after the Second World War to live in Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate where he would play regularly with his friends at the Stammtisch. We have also referred to the book Die Kartl-Akademie Weinzierlein (see references), which gives slightly different rules, and is the main source of previously published information about this game.

Players and Equipment

We will describe the game for four players. It consists of eight phases, in each of which players progressively drop out until the loser of the phase is determined. If there are only three players, each phase is simply begun with the three-player version of the game, which is included in the rules below. Deal and play are clockwise throughout.

A German-suited 24-card pack is used, ideally either the Bavarian or the Franconian pattern. Each player should have a slate and chalk for scoring.

The suits are acorns, leaves, hearts and bells, and the cards in each suit in descending order and their point values are as follows:

Ace 11
Ten 10
King 4
Over 3
Under 2
Nine 0

The total value of the cards in the pack is 120. In addition, a player who holds the King and Over of a suit in hand can score extra card points by declaring them and leading one of the cards: 40 points for the King and Over of trumps or 20 points for the King and Over of any other suit. Note that unlike the normal game of 66, in this game there are no extra points for the last trick, but it is used when necessary as a tie-breaker.

If the correct cards are not available, other German suited cards could be used. Some people economise by using half of a Gaigel or a Doppelkopf pack. In an emergency you could even use a standard international pack, throwing out all the cards 2-8 inclusive from a 52-card pack.

Players in North America can obtain German suited cards from TarotBear's Lair.

Format of the Game

The game consists of eight sub-games or phases, each of which lasts for several deals until the loser of the phase is determined. At the end of the whole game players settle up according to how many phases each player has lost.

Traditionally the score is kept on chalk slates, one slate for each player. Each player begins each phase with 7 strokes and strokes are erased after each hand according to the result. In phases 1-3 and 5-8 players with no strokes drop out until only one player remains and that player is the loser of that phase. In phases 4 and 5 the first player who erases all their strokes is the loser.

Here is a brief summary of the phases - specific rules for each phase will be given later.

Phases 1 and 8: Sechsundsechzig (66), also known as Deutsch. A card is turned up to determine the trump suit. There are no partnerships, the cards are played out in tricks and the aim is to take most card points in tricks. When there are four or three players all the cards are dealt and the players who take most points erase strokes. When only two players remain the game is played just like normal 66. The players are dealt 6 cards each, cards are drawn from the talon after each trick, and the aim is to take 66 or more card points.

Phases 2 and 7: Rot-Assen (Ace of Hearts). The trump suit is chosen by the holder of the Ace of Hearts who must play alone against the other players as a team. The side that is the first to take 66 or more card points wins and the member(s) of the winning team erase 1, 2 or 3 strokes. In the four- and three-player games all the cards are dealt. Two players play with a talon and there are no trumps until a player obtains the Ace of hearts and chooses the trump suit.

Phases 3 and 6: Rufen (Calling). When there are four or three players, the player to dealer's left (forehand) is dealt three cards and must call a card. The suit of this card will be trumps and its holder will be forehand's partner. The deal is then completed and tricks are played, the aim of each team being to be the first to take 66 or more card points. When there are two players there is no calling and no trump suit. They are dealt 6 cards each and draw from the talon after each trick.

Phases 4 and 5: Kamerun. There are no trumps, all the cards are dealt and the aim is to take as few card points as possible. The players who take most card points erase strokes, but in this these phases erasing stokes is bad, because the first player to erase all their strokes is the loser.

General Rules of Play

The basic rules of shuffling, dealing and trick-play are the same for all the phases.

Deal

For the first phase, the first dealer is chosen by any convenient random method. In phases 2-8 the loser of the previous phase decides who should deal first in the new phase. Often, the loser of the previous phase will ask the player to their right to deal first, so that they will have the advantage of being forehand in the first deal of the new phase, or will chose to deal themselves, so as to play last to the first trick.

Within each phase the turn to deal passes to the the next active player to the left after each hand. When a player erases their last stroke from the slate they drop out for the remainder of the phase, but if it was their turn to deal next they must deal the cards to the remaining players for the next hand of the phase before temporarily leaving the game.

The dealer shuffles the cards thoroughly and the player to dealer's right cuts. Then the cards are dealt as follows:

  • 4 players: 6 cards each in batches of three;
  • 3 players: 8 cards each in batches of three, then two, then three;
  • 2 players: 6 cards each in batches of three. The remaining 12 cards are stacked face down to form the talon.

There are some small modifications to this to enable trumps and partnerships to be determined. These are different for each phase and are explained in the section for that phase.

Play

The player to dealer's left (known as forehand) leads to the first trick and the winner of each trick leads to the next. If any trumps are played, the highest trump wins the trick. A trick with no trumps in it is won by the highest card of the suit that was led. The winner of each trick turns the played cards face down, stores them, and leads to the next trick.

When there is a talon from which cards can be drawn
- which happens only during the first part of a two-player game - there is no requirement to follow suit nor to play a trump. No matter what card is led, the other player may play any card to the trick. The winner of the trick draws the top card of the talon (without showing it to their opponent) and the loser similarly draws the next card.
If there is no talon or the talon is closed
- either because no talon was dealt (3 or 4 players) or because all the talon cards have been drawn or a player has closed the talon (2 players) - then players are obliged to follow suit, playing a card of the same suit as the card that was led if they have one. A player who has no card of the suit led must play a trump if they have one. Subject to those rules, players must beat the highest card so far played to the trick if they can (even if that card was played by their partner). A player who has no card of the suit led and no trumps may play any card. In other words:
  • If a non-trump was led and no trump has yet been played to the trick, the next player must play a higher card of the led suit if they have one, failing that a lower card, failing that a trump, and failing that any other card.
  • If a non-trump was led and a previous player has trumped the trick, the next player must play a card of the suit led if possible, and since such a card cannot beat the trump, any card of the suit led, high or low, can be played. Having no card of the suit led, the next player must play a higher trump than the highest trump so far played to the trick if possible, failing that any other trump, and failing that any other card.
  • If a trump was led, subsequent players must play a higher trump than the highest trump so far played to the trick if possible, failing that any other trump, and failing that any other card.

Any player is allowed to look at the immediately previous trick to check what cards were played or how many points it contained. Apart from the trick currently being played and the immediately previous trick, all other played cards are stored face down in a pile by the player or team that won them and cannot be looked at by any player until the end of the play.

20 and 40

When leading to a trick, a player who holds the King and Over of a suit in their hand may lead one of them and declare "40" if the suit is trumps or "20" if it is a non-trump suit. For each such declaration the player or their team adds 40 or 20 as appropriate to their card point total. Note that since one of the cards has to be led, only one King-Over combination can be declared in one trick. For a player to score two King-Over pairs, after declaring the first of them the player must win a trick while keeping the second King-Over in hand so as to lead one of the second pair while making the second declaration. The only case in which it is possible to declare a 20 or 40 without having won a trick is when forehand is dealt a King-Over and declares it when leading one of them to the first trick. In this case the 20 or 40 only counts if forehand's team wins at least one trick. If they don't win any tricks their card point total is zero despite the declaration.

Use of the Slates

Each player has their own chalk slate where they record their score for the current phase and also the number of phases that they have lost. The signs used to keep score are regarded by the players as an important part of the tradition of the game.

At the start of every phase each player has seven strokes, some of which may be erased at the end of each hand. If a player is due to erase more strokes than they have on the slate they simply erase all their remaining strokes.

The commonest way to represent the seven strokes is by drawing what looks like a Roman number XII. From this the player first erases the centre of the X, leaving its four arms and the two I's as the six remaining strokes to be erased. So with this method seven strokes and six strokes look like this:

seven strokes six strokes

Another method is to begin with a Roman III representing seven strokes and score the first stroke by erasing across the middle to leave six separate stokes to be erased. With this method seven strokes and six strokes look like this:

seven strokes six strokes

A third method is to begin with a continental-style crossed seven. Erase first the top right corner and then the crossing to leave five separate strokes. Seven, six and five look like this:

seven strokes six strokes five strokes

A lost phase is marked by a blob, known as a Boller or Knobber or Knäblein in the corner of the loser's slate, like this:

bollern

Scoring

When four players play as individuals, after all the cards have been played each player counts the card points in their tricks plus the 20 or 40 for any King-Over pairs they have declared. The player with most card points erases three strokes from their slate, the player with next most erases two strokes and the player with the third most erases one.

The scoring is similar when three players play as individuals, but in this case the strokes erased are 2 by the player with most card points, 1 by the player with the second most card points, and none by the third player.

When there are two players or two teams, the aim is to be the first to reach 66 or more card points in tricks plus declarations. Players must keep a careful count of the value of cards they or their team has won, since looking back at tricks before the previous trick is not allowed. A player whose team has just won a trick or has just declared a 20 or 40 and who believes that their team now has at least 66 card points can "go out" (ausmelden) by saying "aus". This ends the play and the card points in each team's tricks are counted. If the team that went out has 66 or more card points, all members of the team erase strokes as follows:

  • 1 stroke if the opponents have at least 33 points;
  • 2 strokes if the opponents have at least one trick but less than 33 points (they are 'schneider');
  • 3 strokes if the opponents have no tricks at all (they are 'schwarz').

A team that goes out with 66 or more points always wins the hand however many points the opposing team has, even if the opponents turn out to have more card points than the team that went out.

If a player goes out but it turns out that their team has fewer than 66 points, then the side that went out loses and each member of the opposing team erases 2 strokes.

A player can only go out just after their team has won a trick or has won at least one trick and has just made a declaration. Once the next card has been played it is too late. If they then realise that they have enough points they have to wait until they win another trick or make another declaration for their next opportunity to go out, and they may lose if the opponents meanwhile reach 66 and go out.

A player can go out before the lead to the second to last trick or when leading to the second to last trick and declaring 40 or 20 for a King-Over pair, but not later than that. Once the second to last trick has been played and the players have only one card left in their hands, going out is no longer possible and the final trick must be played. The card points are then counted.

  • If one side has 66 or more points and the other does not, the side with 66 or more wins and erases 1, 2 or 3 strokes depending on the tricks and points taken by the other side as above.
  • If both sides have 66 or more points, the side that won the last trick wins and erases one stroke (irrespective of which side has more points).
  • If both sides have less than 66 points, the side that won the last trick wins and erases one stroke (irrespective of which side has more points).

Note that the rule from North German 66 that the last trick is worth 10 card points does not apply in this game. Instead the last trick is used to break ties and to determine who wins in cases when no one went out and there is not a clear winner.

Closing

In the two-player game with a talon, so long as there are at least four cards in the talon, the player whose turn it will be to lead to the next trick can close the talon (decken). This is a commitment to take at least 66 points without drawing further cards. The purpose of closing is to deny the opponent the chance of drawing good cards from the talon and thereby perhaps avoiding schneider or schwarz (or even catching up and winning).

The non-dealer can even close before leading the first card if they consider their initial hand good enough to take 66 card points without further help - for example the A-10-K-O of trumps are worth 28 points, which together with the 40 for declaring the K-O is clearly enough. Subsequently the winner of any of the first four tricks can close either before drawing from the talon (holding five cards) or after both players have drawn from the talon (holding six cards). The winner of the fifth trick can close the talon holding five cards or can draw a card. If the winner of the fifth trick draws from the talon, the talon cannot be closed and the sixth trick must be played.

After a player has closed, play continues as though the talon were exhausted: no further cards are drawn from the talon and in these last five or six tricks the second player to the trick must follow suit and beat the card led if able to.

As usual a player can go out on reaching 66 or more points. If the player who closed goes out with 66 or more card points, the number of strokes erased depends on the state of the points and tricks at the moment when the talon was closed. The same number of strokes are erased in the unusual case where the opponent of the player who closed goes out with 66 points.

  • If both players had at least 33 points when the talon was closed, the player who goes out erases 1 stroke.
  • If one or both players had less than 33 points, but both players had at least one trick, the player who goes out erases 2 strokes.
  • If one or both players had no tricks, the player who goes out erases 3 strokes.

If neither player goes out before the second card is played to the second last trick, going out is no longer possible and the last trick must be played. The card points are then counted, and if the player who closed has 66 or more card points they erase 1, 2 or 3 strokes as above. If the player who closed has fewer than 66 cards points, their opponent erases 1, 2 or 3 strokes.

If a player goes out but turns out to have fewer than 66 card points, their opponent erases 2 strokes.

End of Phase and Final Settlement

At the end of each deal any players who have erased all their strokes drop out of the play. With the exception of the Kamerun phases (4 and 5), the phase continues with the remaining players until just one player remains. Sometimes the three-player or two-player stage may be skipped more than one player erases all their remaining strokes on the same deal. However, in every deal there is at least one player who erases no strokes, so it is not possible for all the remaining players to drop out at the same time.

When all the other players have dropped out, the last remaining player with strokes is the loser of the phase and marks a Boller on their slate to record this. The loser then cleans their slate (leaving any Bollern in place), everyone draws seven new strokes on their slate to start the next phase, and the loser of the phase just ended chooses who will be the next dealer.

Phases 4 and 5 (Kamerun) end as soon as the first player erases the last stroke from their slate and this player is the loser. In exceptional cases there can be more than one loser and then each of them records a Boller. Everyone who still has strokes erases them (leaving any Bollern in place), and all players draw seven new strokes to start the next phase.

At the end of phase 8 the players settle up. Typically each player must buy a litre of beer for each Boller on their slate, and the beer is shared between all the players.

The Eight Phases

The specific rules for the eight phases of the game will now be described. The general rules given above apply to all phases unless specified otherwise.

Phase 1: Sechsundsechzig (66)

This phase, which is also known as "Deutsch", is closest to the classic game of 66 - in fact the two-player final is identical to 66.

In the four-player game, the dealer turns the last card of the pack face up. This card belongs to the dealer and its suit is trumps. Forehand (the player to dealer's left) leads to the first trick, the six tricks are played (players must follow suit, trump when void, overtake when possible) and when all the cards have been played the card points taken by each player are counted. The player with most points erases 3 strokes, the second placed player 2, the third 1 and the player with fewest points erases nothing. In the event of a tie between two or three players, if one of them won the last trick that player is considered to have taken more points than the others (it is as though the last trick were worth 0.5 card points in this case). If there is a tie between players none of whom took the last trick, they both (all) erase the smaller (smallest) number of strokes. So the strokes erased will be 2-2-1-0 in the event of a tie for first place or 3-1-1-0 if there is a tie for second place or 3-2-0-0 if there is a tie for third. If one player takes most points and the last trick while the other three are all equal, the strokes erased are 3-0-0-0.

The three-player game is similar. The players with most, second most and fewest points erase 2, 1 and 0 strokes respectively. In the event of a tie with neither tied player having won the last trick, the strokes erased are 2-0-0 or 1-1-0.

In the two-player game the dealer deals a batch of three cards to each player, then one card face up to the table to indicate the trump suit, then another batch of three cards each, and stacks the remaining 11 cards face down on top of and at right angles to the trump indicator so that its rank and suit can be seen. These 12 cards from the talon from which cards are drawn after each trick. Since the winner of each trick draws first, the trump indicator is drawn as the last card of the talon by the loser of the 6th trick.

In the two-player game, the player who is dealt or draws the Nine of trumps is allowed to exchange it for the trump indicator card after winning a trick and before leading to the next trick, before or after drawing a card from the talon. The player takes the trump indicator from under the talon, adds it to their hand, and places the Nine of trumps face up under the talon in its place, where it will be drawn by the loser of the sixth trick. The following particular cases should be noted.

  • The non-dealer cannot exchange the Nine of trumps before leading to the first trick, because they have not yet won a trick.
  • When the loser of a trick draws the Nine of trumps from the face-down talon, they cannot exchange it immediately. They must first win (another) trick, as it can only be exchanged after winning a trick and before leading to the next.
  • The winner of the sixth trick can exchange the Nine of trumps for the trump indicator before drawing the second to last card from the talon. This is the last moment at which the Nine of trumps can be exchanged.
  • If the Nine of trumps happens to be the second to last card of the talon, drawn by the winner of the sixth trick, it cannot be exchanged for the trump indicator, which is taken by the loser of the trick.

Note that in the four-player and three-player games the Nine of trumps cannot be exchanged for the trump indicator, which belongs to the dealer and cannot be stolen.

In the two-player game a player can close the talon having just won a trick (holding five cards) or when about to lead to a trick (holding six cards) provided that at least four cards remain in the talon. This is done by taking the trump indicator card from under the talon and placing it face down on top of the talon.

Phase 2: Rot-Assen (Ace of Hearts)

The general principle is that the holder of the Ace of hearts chooses the trump suit and plays alone against the other players as a team, the aim being to take 66 or more card points.

In the four-player and three-player games, the player who is dealt the Ace of hearts declares it and chooses the trump suit for the deal. After trumps are announced, forehand leads to the first trick irrespective of which player holds the Ace of hearts. Players must follow suit, trump when void, and overtake the highest card in the trick when possible, even when this entails trumping or overtaking their partner's winning card.

As usual, a player whose side has just won a trick or declared a 20 or 40 can go out if they believe that their side has achieved the required 66 or more points. The play ends and the card points are counted. If player who went out was right, each member of their team erases 1, 2 or 3 strokes (see scoring). If they were wrong each member of the opposing team erases 2 strokes.

It may happen that the holder of the Ace of hearts has extremely poor cards, sees little or no chance of taking as many as 33 card points and is in some danger of taking no tricks before the opponents reach 66. In this case the player may surrender instead of announcing a trump suit to avoid the risk of schwarz. If the holder of the Ace of hearts surrenders there is no play. Each of the other players erases two strokes, the cards are thrown in and the next player deals.

In the two-player game, each player is dealt six cards and there is a face-down talon of 12 cards. There is no trump indicator card because the trump suit will be chosen by the player who has or who later draws the Ace of hearts. The holder of the Ace of hearts should declare it and set the trump suit as soon as they obtain it. If the Ace of hearts has been dealt to either player, this should happen before the first lead. If the Ace of hearts is in the talon the game is played without trumps until it is drawn and declared. While there are no trumps the led card can only be beaten by a higher card of the same suit. As usual there is no requirement to follow suit until the talon is exhausted or closed.

If there are no trumps yet, then before playing a card the player due to lead to a trick should ask "Hast' das'?" (Have you got it?) to give the opponent an opportunity to declare the Ace of hearts if held. If the opponent replies "Nein" (No) the trick is played without trumps.

While there are no trumps, declaring any King-Over pair is of course worth only 20 points. The value of a previously declared King-Over does not change if its suit is later made trumps. A King-Over declaration is only worth 40 points if the suit is made trumps before the King-Over is declared.

At the end of the third trick, after both players have drawn from the talon, if the talon has not been closed and no one has yet declared the Ace of hearts, then the remaining 6 cards of the talon are turned over as a block and stacked face up with just the top card (which was originally the bottom card of the deck) showing. Play continues and the winner of each trick draws the top card from this face-up talon and the loser draws the next card. Both players see each card before it is drawn. As soon as the Ace of hearts has been drawn and both players have six cards in their hand again, the talon is once more turned face down. The player who drew the face up Ace of hearts must now choose and announce the trump suit. Play then continues with players drawing from the face-down talon after each trick until it is exhausted. In this case both players will know the bottom card of the talon, which will be taken by the loser of the sixth trick, because they will have seen it just before the talon was turned face down.

As usual in the two-player game, a player can close the talon when they are due to lead to the next trick provided that it contains at least four cards. This can be done either immediately after winning a trick (holding five cards) or immediately before leading to a trick (holding six cards). A player closes by briefly placing their hand palm down on top of the talon and saying "deckt is" (it's closed). If the talon is closed before trumps have been set then the remainder of the hand is played without trumps, but with the usual requirement to follow suit and beat the led card if possible. If the talon is closed while the talon is face up (because the Ace of hearts had not yet been declared), then it is turned face down when it is closed.

It is possible, but slightly risky, for a player who is dealt the Ace of hearts or draws it after one of the first two tricks to delay declaring it and making trumps. In any case the Ace of hearts can only be declared before the first lead or after drawing from the talon and before the lead to the next trick. When the Ace of hearts is declared after drawing a card, there is no way for the opponent to know whether it has just been drawn or was already in the player's hand. But if it is discovered that a player has been holding an undeclared Ace of hearts, then the play ends immediately and the other player erases 3 strokes. One way that a concealed Ace of hearts could be discovered is if the talon is turned face up but the Ace of hearts never appears in it. Therefore the holder of the Ace of hearts must definitely declare it at the latest at the end of the third trick before the talon is turned face up. Another way that a concealed Ace of hearts might be discovered is if the opponent of the holder closes the talon early in the play, denying the holder the opportunity to hide the offence by drawing further cards from the talon.

Phase 3: Rufen (Calling)

When there are four or three players, forehand must choose trumps and select a partner by calling a card, naming its rank and suit. This creates two teams and the aim is to be the first team to take 66 card points.

Forehand picks up the first batch of three cards that are dealt and must not look at any more cards before calling a card. It is good practice for all other players to leave their cards face down on the table until forehand has called. Forehand must hold at least one card in the suit of the called card. The holder of the card is forehand's partner for the deal and the suit of the called card becomes trumps. For example if forehand says "Ace of bells", then bells are trumps and whoever holds the Ace of bells is forehand's partner. To make this announcement, forehand's first three cards must include at least one bell. After forehand has called a card all players may pick up their cards and look at them.

Forehand must lead a trump to the first trick and the called card must be played to that trick. The usual rules of play apply - players must follow suit, trump if void and overtake when possible - with one exception. It makes sense to call the highest outstanding card of the trump suit (for example with A-9 of a suit you should call the 10, with K-O you should call the Ace, turning your 20 into a 40, and with A-10-O you should call the King), but if forehand perversely chooses to call a lower trump, then the holder of the called trump is still obliged to play it to the first trick even if this contravenes the usual overtaking rule.

It is possible that forehand holds the called card, in which case forehand must lead the called card to the first trick and play alone against the other players as a team. This happens if forehand deliberately called one of the first three cards dealt in order to play alone, and more often when the called card turns out to be one of the remaining cards of forehand's hand.

In the four-player game the teams are two players against two if the called card is held by a player other than forehand, or one against three if forehand has the called card. In the three-player game the teams are always one against two, forehand either playing alone or with a partner against the third player. In Rufen, unlike Rot-Assen, there is no opportunity to surrender if playing alone, even in the three-player game when forehand calls a partner and the unlucky third player has neither a partner nor the choice of trump suit.

As usual a player whose team has reached 66 points can go out, and all members of the winning team erase 1, 2 or 3 strokes as described under scoring.

When only two players remain, they are dealt six cards each in batches of three and there is a 12-card face-down talon. There is of course no calling of a partner. Forehand simply picks up the first batch of three cards and names the trump suit. The remainder of the dealt cards are then picked up and play proceeds as usual, with no requirement to follow suit or trump until the talon is exhausted or closed. A player who reaches 66 or more card points can go out as usual and erase 1, 2 or 3 strokes depending on the opponent's tricks and points.

Since forehand has chosen trumps there is no face up trump indicator and no exchange of the trump Nine. As usual either player may close the talon by briefly placing their hand palm down on top of it and saying "deckt is" (it's closed). No further cards can be drawn and players must follow suit, trump and overtake when possible.

Phase 4: Kamerun

In this game there are no trumps and the objective is to avoid taking card points, and thereby avoid erasing strokes, since in this phase, in contrast to the others, it is the first player to erase all their strokes who loses. Jens Meder cites the expression "In Kamerum(n) geht anders rum" (in Cameroon it's the other way round).

Forehand leads to the first trick and as usual players must follow suit and beat the highest card in the trick if possible (even though beating the highest card is often to the player's disadvantage).

There is one alternative for a player whose cards are very strong - to announce a Durchmarsch, which is an undertaking to win all the tricks. Durchmarsch can only be announced by the winner of the first trick, before leading to the second trick.

If no Durchmarsch is announced everyone plays for themselves and there is an additional restriction in the play. The winner of a trick is not allowed to lead the same suit that was led to the previous trick, unless the player has no cards of any other suit. There is no going out: all the tricks must be played. There are no declarations of 20 or 40: there would be no point in such declarations since the players do not want card points.

In the four-player game if no Durchmarsch is announced the player who takes most card points erases 3 strokes, the player who takes second most erases 2 strokes, the player who takes third most erases 1 stroke and the player who takes fewest erases nothing. There are a few special cases and exceptions.

  • If there is a tie and one of the player in the tie took the last trick, that player is considered to have more card points than the others - it is as though the last trick were worth 0.5 points in this case.
  • If there is a tie between players neither (none) of whom took the last trick but both (all) of whom took at least one trick they both (all) erase the larger (largest) number of strokes. For example if player A takes most points and the last trick while B and C tie for second most points and D has fewest then the strokes erased are A:3-B:2-C:2-D:0.
  • Any player who takes no tricks at all erases no strokes. So for example if A takes most points, B second most and C and D take none, the strokes erased are A:3-B:2-C:0-D:0.

If a player announces Durchmarsch and succeeds in winning all the tricks, each of the other players must erase 3 strokes. If the player who announced Durchmarsch loses a trick the play ends and the Durchmarsch player erases 3 strokes. A player who wins all the tricks without having announced Durchmarsch gets no benefit - they would have to erase 3 strokes while the other players erase nothing.

When erasing strokes the rule 3 before 2 before 1 applies. That is, the player(s) who have to erase 3 strokes do this first, and if any of them thereby erase their last stroke they have lost and the phase has ended. If erasing 3 strokes does not eliminate anyone then those who have 2 strokes erase strokes next, and if that does not produce a loser then those with just 1 stroke to erase must do so.

In the event of a tie or a successful Durchmarsch it can happen that more than one player has the same number of strokes to erase, and in that case more than one player may erase their last stroke at the same time. In this case there can be more than one loser of this phase and each of the losers will mark a Boller on their slate.

Example. Suppose that player A has 1 stroke, player B 2 strokes, player C 3 strokes, player D 4 strokes, Here are some possible results:

  • Player A erases 2, player B 0, player C 3, player D 1. Result: player C erases first and is the loser.
  • Player D erases 3 strokes, players A and B 2 strokes each, player C 0. Result: there are two losers A and B. Player D has 1 stroke left after erasing 3, so player A and B erase next and are both out.
  • Player D plays a successful Durchmarsch. Result: A, B and C erase 3 strokes each and all three of them lose.

Because the Kamerun phase ends as soon as any player is eliminated, there is no three-player or two-player Kamerun game in four-player Dreeg. However in a three-player game of Dreeg, the Kamerun phase is also played with three players. The game is the same with four players except that eight cards are dealt to each player (3+2+3) and the number of strokes erased by the players with most, second most and fewest points are 2, 1 and 0. The rules on ties are the same as with four players. If an announced Durchmarsch succeeds each opponent of the Durchmarsch player erases 3 strokes: if it fails the Durchmarsch player alone erases 3 strokes.

Phases 5 to 8

The remaining phases are the same as the first four phases but played in reverse order. Phase 5 is Kamerun again, Phase 6 Rufen (Calling), Phase 7 Rot-Assen (Ace of hearts) and the final phase 8 is Sechsundsechzig (66). When phase 8 ends players count their Bollern and buy that many litres of beer.

As usual the loser of each phase chooses the first dealer for the next phase. In phases 4 and 5 there may occasionally be more than one loser, and in this case so far as we know there is no established rule for choosing the first dealer in the phase that follows. Jens Meder suggests that in this case the losers should agree between themselves who should deal next, and that if they are unable to reach an agreement they should abandon the whole game and look for more reasonable opponents to play with in future! I would suggest a less radical solution: that the losers of the phase should draw cards from the shuffled pack and whoever draws the higher card should choose the next dealer.

Penalties

The standard penalty of any breach of the rules, such as failing to follow suit or failing to beat the highest card in the trick when required to, is that the play of that deal ends immediately and the offender is penalised 3 strokes. In phase 4 or 5 the offender must erase three strokes. In the other phases 1-3 and 6-8, all players other than the offender erase 3 strokes.

Variations

As in most traditional card games, the rules of Dreeg vary slightly from place to place. Many of the variations below are known to us only from the limited literature about the game, and it is possible that some of them are idiosyncracies of one particular group, or maybe just misunderstandings by some writers.

The Kartl-Akademie Weinzierlein implies that in phases 1 and 8 (66 / Deutsch) each player begins with 10 strokes, drawn on the slate as XX. The centres of the two X's are erased first leaving 8 strokes to be erased separately. In the remaining phases 2 to 7 the players begin with 7 strokes each as in the above description.

In two-player 66 / Deutsch there are some different ideas about which card to use as the trump indicator. Some deal six cards each (3+3), turn up the next (13th) card as the trump indicator, and place the remainder of the talon on top of it. Some use the bottom card of the pack as the trump indicator, turning it face up and sliding it under the remainder of the talon.

Some play that in two-player 66 / Deutsch the second player to a trick can exchange the trump Nine for the trump indicator even if the player has not yet won a trick, provided that the trump indicator card is played immediately to win the current trick. If the trump King or Over is obtained in this way it cannot be used to declare and score a 40 because it is no longer in the player's hand when they lead to the next trick.

Some play that in two-player 66 / Deutsch, the opponent of a player who closes the talon can at that moment exchange the trump Nine for the trump indicator card even if they have not yet won a trick.

Many play that when a player closes and loses, their opponent always erases at least 2 strokes, never just 1.

It may be agreed that if a player has closed when one or both players had no trick and a player subsequently goes out but has fewer than 66 points, their opponent should erase 3 strokes rather than 2. This is to prevent a player who realises that they will lose from deliberately going out prematurely to deprive their opponent of their third stroke.

In Schnapsen - die schönsten Varianten, J Bamberger gives a different way of scoring Rot-Assen for four or three players in which the lone player always erases 3 strokes if successful, irrespective of the opponents' card points. If the opponents win they erase 1, 2 or 3 strokes as usual. In this Bamberger differs from the Kartl-Akademie Weinzierlein, which he cites as a source, and this may be an example of a misunderstanding rather than a widely played variant. Nevertheless it has some merit in that it encourages the lone player to play rather than give up if there is any chance of winning.

The appendix to the Kartl-Akademie Weinzierlein mentions a variant in which the overtaking rule applies in the first Kamerun phase but not in the second. In phase 5 players only need to follow suit, not to beat the highest card so far played. This information is attributed to Loni Etzelmaier, but we have not found anyone who has played by this rule so it may only have been a speciality of his group.

Three further variants are mentioned in the Kartl-Akademie Weinzierlein but not fully described. They are

  • Kamerun bei Nacht
  • Schweige-Maß
  • Weglöscher

References

Rudolf J. Weickmann: Die Kartl-Akademie Weinzierlein (Verlag Albert Hofmann; Nuremberg; 2nd edition, 1982). This is the most comprehensive published description of the game that we know of.

Johannes Bamberger: Schnapsen - die schönsten Varianten (Perlen-Reihe Volume 639; 11th edition; Vienna)

At the time of writing (April 2020) the German Nürnberger Dreck Wikipedia page gives just a brief overview of the game.

This page is maintained by John McLeod, john@pagat.com   © John McLeod, 2020. Last updated: 21st April 2020

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