Card Games: Trump Group

These are plain trick games in which a small number of cards (often five) is dealt, there is a trump suit, and the objective is to win tricks. I have called this the "trump group" because one of the earliest games of this type is called Triomphe, the word from which "trump" is derived.

  • The two-player game Écarté was fashionable in France in the 19th century, but is seldom played nowadays.
  • Watten is a five card game played in Bavaria and Tyrol with a trump rank as well as a trump suit.
  • Perlaggen is a sophisticated Tyrolean game with wild cards, in which points are scored for the best set and sequence as well as for taking three of the five tricks.
  • Giltspiel is the direct ancestor of Perlaggen, a simpler game without wild cards still played in some places in the Tyrol.

There are several subgroups, distinguished by a particular card order, or some other special feature:

  • The Rams group, in which players can drop out, and if you stay in and fail to take a trick you pay a penalty.
  • The Spoil Five Group, in which there are are some special top trumps that can renege, and the black suit numerals rank in reverse order.
  • The Euchre Group in which the trump jack and the other jack of the same colour are high.
  • The Karnöffel group is a very old group of games in which the trumps are only partly effective, and the card order in the trump suit is highly disturbed.

Within each of these subgroups there are also more elaborate games in which a larger number of cards is dealt.

Some of the more recent trump games have bidding to determine the number of tricks to be taken:

  • Napoleon (often known as Nap) has been played in Britain since the late 19th century.
  • Fipsen is a related game played in North Germany.
This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 2001, 2005, 2010, 2017. Last updated: 20th October 2017