Original Card Games by David Parlett
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Players 3-7   Cards 52   Type Tricks with suit-avoidance

Click here for versions in German and French

Following a play-test meeting of the Seattle Cosmic Games Night... everyone who played, including John (who doesn't like card games), agreed it was one of the best trick-taking games they had ever played. ... while Bugami is deep, the rules fit on a single page, and it's easy to learn, and that's key. Ron Hale-Evans
The novelty of this Hearts-type game is that the penalty suit isn't fixed in advance. Instead, you each declare before play which suit you will try to avoid taking any of. This is your 'bug suit'. The fun lies in trying to offload the appropriate bug suits on one another's tricks. Note: The three-player version of this game has developed additional features of its own and is now described separately under the name Trigami.
For trick-playing purposes, you need a 52-card pack ranking from high to low in their usual order (AKQJ1098765432). You also need an old or incomplete pack for bidding purposes. Each player requires four bid-cards, one of each suit.
Deal all the cards out in ones until everyone has the same number. If any remain, lay them face down on one side.
You each look at your own cards, decide which will be your bug suit, and select the card of that suit from your bid-cards. When everyone is ready, you all flip your bid-cards over and leave them face up so everyone knows everyone else's bug suit. You can bid to take no tricks at all (misère) by leaving all your bid-cards face down.
Dealer's left-hand neighbour leads to the first trick. Tricks are played at no trump. You must follow suit if you can, but may play any card if your can't. A trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led, and the winner of each trick leads to the next. If any cards were left undealt, they are added to the last trick, and go to the player who won it.
You each count 10 points for each trick you won, and divide this total by the number of bugs they contain, ignoring fractions. For example, if you took four tricks but only one card of your bug suit, you score 40. Four tricks containing two bugs score 20, three bugs 13, and so on.
If you take only clean tricks, do not attempt to divide by nought, or you will drive yourself mad. Instead, each trick counts double, i.e. 20 points. For taking four clean tricks, therefore, you score 80.
There are special scores for winning every trick or no tricks, as follows:
  • If you win every trick, you score 100, regardless of bugs. Everybody else then scores nothing, unless they bid misère.
  • If you don't take any tricks at all, you score 30, unless you bid misère.
  • If you bid misère, you score 100 if successful, otherwise nothing.
Play up to any agreed target, such as 250 points.
Optional Joker(s)
You can spice the game up by adding one or more Jokers to the pack. These count as bugs when taken in tricks. Any cards left undealt are set face down and go to the winner of the last trick. You may only discard a Joker when you can't follow suit. If you lead one, it wins the trick, and opponents may discard as they please.

"Shotgun Wedding" variant

Here's a nasty one! If two or more players bid the same suit they automatically become partners. Their tricks are kept together, and each member individually scores the score made by the whole partnership. (But this doesn't apply to misère bidders. They continue to play and score as individuals.)