A game is started by clicking on the ‘New game’ button. You can then choose many options including the desired strength of your opponents. Of course, the player can also join a game already opened by another player.
The player's own cards are spread out. As soon as you click on a card it is placed in the playing field.
Call the King is played with 4 players The play and call order can be either clockwise or counter-clockwise. The players take it in turn to be the ‘forehand’. This function is also passed after each game in the playing direction. There are 54 cards in the game:
- 22 tarock (tarock I - XXI, sküs)
- 32 suit cards (8 cards of clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds)
- Suits cards hearts/diamonds: 4,3,2,1, jack, queen, knight, king
- Suit cards clubs/spades: 7,8,9,10, jack, queen, knight, king
At the beginning of the game each player receives 12 cards. The remaining 6 are placed in 2 piles (3 cards in each) in the ‘deck’. Starting with the player who sits on the ‘forehand’, players try to bid for the highest game (see submitting bids). The player that bid the highest game (the ‘game bidder’), can/must then play it.
After the cards have been dealt, the player after the forehand begins to bid. Either he chooses a possible play from the Biding Table, or he says ‘next’. Then it’s the next player's turn and they may outbid the bid. Those who have said ‘next’ already, are no longer part of the bid submission and can no longer bid. Once three players have said ‘next’ the remaining player wins the bid and must play the game they had bid. If the first three players did not submit a bid, the forehand (the last player to go) must bid a game of their choice. However, he can also choose some special games that the other players were not allowed to bid on (see Bidding table).
If the highest game was a call game, the game bidder ‘calls’ one of the 4 kings. The player who has this king in their cards for this game becomes the winning bidder’s partner. The winning bidder reveals the 6 deck cards. They then choose one of the two 3-card decks and adds it to their cards. Then they lay any 3 cards, which creates their trick pile. The remaining 3 deck cards then form the opposing party’s trick pile.
Starting with the winning bidder all players can then make additional calls for a higher game. If three players in succession do not make a call, then the actual game starts. The forehand plays the first card (in negative games the game bidder), the others lay a card or take the trick. Whoever won the trick plays the next card. After 12 tricks, the game is over, and wins/losses are calculated. For both teams (of either 2-2 or 1-3) the successful/unsuccessful calls are evaluated and the prize is immediately split between players. In the case of a single winner/loser, they receive/pay the playing value from/to each of the other three players. With 2-2 both losers each pay the playing value.
It is more common to play the positive games with call the king. In these games, it's all about reaching as many points as possible whilst winning bonuses.
- Call Games
The winning bidder calls a king, which they do not have in their hand, and its owner will be their playing partner. Basic value of 2.
- Three Games
The successful bidder decides not to call a partner and plays alone against the other three. Three games have a basic value of 6.
Variants of positive games through treatment of the deck:
The successful bidder plays without drawing from the deck, which form the tricks of the opposition. Solo games count twice the value (Also doubles bonuses)
- Six Threes
The successful bidder takes all six cards instead of only one of the two 3-card piles. They can lay any 6 cards in to their tricks. A six threes is easier to win than a three, for that reason the base value in the case of a loss is 12. This game can only be called by the forehand if no one else has placed a bid.
Variants of positive matches are ‘black’ and ‘suit’
Normally positive games are played ‘black’, i.e. the tarock cards beat the suit cards. There are also ‘suit’ variants of the game in which the tarock only counts as a 5th suit and does not beat the suit cards.
The following combinations are allowed:
- Solo Caller
- Six Threes
- Three of Suits
Solo Three of Suits
- Solo Three
In order to upgrade a normal caller game from other bids, it can be combined with one of the following prompts (detailed description of the announcements in the relevant section):
Anyone can announce negative games with very low cards. These games are for the bidder playing alone, who either tries not to take a trick (beggar), exactly one trick (piccolo) or as few points as possible (trischaken). Beggar and piccolo are also available in the version ‘ouvert’, which means that after completion of the first trick, all of the cards are are placed face up. However, the opponents may not discuss the play. In negative games the winning bidder is to play the first card.
This Bidding Table contains all possible bids in ascending order of precedence. The bids are ranked according to their value of the game. In games of equal value the following ranking rules apply:
- Three games rank higher than caller games
- Solo games are ranked lower than other games of the same value
- Black games rank higher than the suit games the same name.
|Solo caller||2*2 4|
|Pagat caller||2+2 4|
|Uhu caller||2+4 6|
|Three of suits||6|
|Pelican caller||2+6 8|
|Quapil caller||2+8 10|
|Solo three of suits||6*2 12|
|Solo three||6*2 12|
|Special games for the forehand||Value|
The forehand may offer these games only if no other player has placed a bid.
In call games the bidder is to call his partner. This happens by naming one of the 4 kings. The player who has this king in their cards for this game becomes the game bidder’s partner.
However, no one except the callee knows at this time who the person is (not even the caller). The partnership is revealed throughout the course of calling round or the game (at the latest when the king is played). It is not allowed to call a king which you hold yourself (‘self-caller’) - instead, you would have to first have to offer a three or a negative match in the round of bidding.
If the caller has 3 kings in their cards, he can also call ‘the fourth’ without announcing its suit (to the confusion of the other two opponents).
Picking up the Deck
With ‘normal’ positive games the game bidder can reveal the cards in the deck and choose one of the two piles. They take the chosen pile in their hand and then lay 3 other cards face down which then count as a trick. The remaining 3 deck cards then become the opposing team’s trick.
Only for Callers:
If the called king is in the face-up deck, the game bidder has the opportunity in addition to give up the game immediately ("grind") and then immediately lose the game value (plus already called bonuses) to all three other players.
In solo play, however, the game bidder may not pick up the deck and the cards become one of the oppositions tricks. If it turns out at the end of the game that the called king was in the deck, the game bidder receives the half of the deck containing the king as compensation for his tricks.
With six threes the game bidder must take all six face up deck cards and then lay any 6 cards face down among his own tricks.
In principle, trull cards or kings must never discarded. With three of suits, also no suit cards at all, as long as you still do not have ‘non-trull-tarock’. For negative matches the deck is not used at all.
Calls with positive games
Before the actual game there is a call round, in which each player (starting with the game bidder) may announce additional bonuses or contras. The call round is over when all players in the round say "good".
With the call of a bonus a player declares that his team will earn this bonus. Therefore, the value of the bonus is doubled. If their team do not achieve this bonus, then they lose this doubled value. However, not just anyone can call any bonus (see table) and a bonus may only be called and collect by one team.
In addition, a player always declares at the latest with a call whether they belong to the team of the game bidder or to the counter-team. If the team affiliation is not apparent through other means, an opponent must say ‘against’ or ‘against the game’.
Either team may contra each call from the other team, and the other team the game itself.
Through this, the value of this call, or the game, is doubled. Individual contras can be further increased with a recontra and subcontra.
|Bonus||When are they possible?||Value||Who can call?|
|Pagat*||black games||1||Owner of the pagat|
|Uhu*||black games||2||Owner of the uhu|
|Pelican*||black games||3||Owner of the pelican|
|Quapil||black games||4||Owner of the quapil|
| Kind |
|Caller games||1||Owner of the called king|
|Capture the moon||black games||1||no one|
|Capture the king||Caller games||1||no one|
|Trull||black games||1||both teams|
|4 kings||Positive games||1||both teams|
|Honours||Positive games||1||both teams|
|Valat||Positive games||4||x basic value both parties|
The bonuses in detail:
Pagat (or ‘pagat ultimo’)
This bonus is only available for ‘black’ games and is achieved when the pagat (tarock I) is played in the last trick. If the pagat itself wins the trick, the team that played the pagat receives the bonus, otherwise the other party wins it (even if the partner of the player who played the pagat wins).
Uhu (or ‘uhu pre-ultimo’)
Similar to pagat, but you must play the uhu (tarot II) in the penultimate trick.
The same as pagat or uhu, but with tarot III in the third-last trick.
How pagat, uhu or pelican, but with tarot IIII in the fourth last stitch.
This bonus is available for all call games and is achieved when the called king is played in the last trick. The team that wins the trick receives the bonus (it is not necessary that the king wins the trick).
Capture the Moon
This is possible in all black games and can be achieved only by the team that does not have the moon (tarot XXI) in their cards. Capture the moon means that the tarot XXI is beaten in the course of the game (even if this is done by the partner).
Capture the King
This is possible in all call games and can only be achieved by the opposing team. Capture the king means that the other team beats the called king. This bonus also applies for the opposing team, when the called king is located in the deck but was left to the opponents.
Features in all black games and goes to the team that has all 3 Trull cards (tarot I, Tarot XXI, Sküs) in their tricks.
Features in all positive games and goes to the team that has all 4 kings in their tricks.
Featured in all positive games and goes to the team that has at least 5 of the highest value cards (kings, Trull cards) in their tricks.
Features in all positive games and goes to the party that has at least 45 1/3 points in their tricks.
Valat means that one team wins all tricks (regardless of the points). This bonus is a special feature because it makes all other bonuses and the game itself invalid (if the game would be worth more without valat, a silent valat is not calculated). If a trick is lost when valat is called, the game can be terminated immediately, because the value of continuing is fixed and can not be changed by bonuses.
The Gameplay in Negative Games
No calls are possible in negative games, except a contra of the game itself (and even then only with beggar and piccolo).
In the game, the forehand (for negative games the game bidder) plays a card and the others, in turn, also play a card to try and beat it. The player who wins the trick plays the next card. Normally, any card may be played (for exceptions see below), for the following cards to be played however, the following rules apply:
The Three Rules of Playing cards:
1. A player can not play a card of another suit as long as they can play the suit that has already been played (‘follow suit’).
2. If a player has the tarock, then they must play the tarock, unless this contradicts rule 1 (‘follow tarock’).
3. A player must in negative games, where possible, try to beat the card laid on the table, unless this contradicts rule 1 or 2 (‘follow trick’).
The card that actually wins the trick depends on the game. Generally the highest card in the first played suit wins (if a tarock is played, the highest played tarock wins). With all except the suit games (i.e. black games, negative games, trischaken) the tarock beats each suit card. Therefore in tricks with tarock, the highest tarock always wins.
The Fairytale Trick (with Black Games):
If pagat, moon and sküs are played in a trick together (no matter in which order or whether a suit card has been played) then the pagat wins the trick (and the moon is considered to be caught).
Additional Rules for a Black Games and Call Games
4a. If you have called pagat/uhu/pelican/quapil/king ultimo (you or your partner), and you have this card, you have to try to play that card in the specified trick. You MUST therefore not play it earlier and MUST play it in the appropriate trick (if this is not prevented by rules 1 and 2). If you could not play the card in the trick announced, then from then on it does not matter when you play the card. If you are forced by rules 1 and 2 to play one of the many called cards earlier, you must first play the one that would normally be played first (e.g.: Pagat, uhu. Third to last trick. Played: Tarock 10. Caller only has the two called tarocks -> uhu must be played).
Additional Rules for Suit Games
4b. You can not play any tarock cards in suit games, except for when you do not have any more suit cards.
Additional Rules for a Negative Game:
4c. In the negative games, pagat should not be played as long as you can still play another tarot (according to rules 1-3).
End of the Game Before the Last Trick:
With beggar, the game ends immediately when the game bidder takes the first trick, with piccolo, when they win the second trick. In games with valat calls, the game ends immediately if the other team takes the first trick.
Unrecognised Rules and Variants
In order to keep the rules as simple as reasonably possible, certain specialities and special rules were deliberately omitted. As many players implicitly play by some familiar rules without them being included in the above rules, for reasons of clarity, some of the more common will be mentioned here. These rules are NOT taken in to account:
- Zwiccolo, triccolo, etc.
- Bettler-Bei, Piccolo-Bei, piccolo-three quapil
- Bonuses due to the cards in hand (situation bonus)
- Forehand can win a bid by bidding the same game value.
- Taking a look at the first trick or last trick won
- Calling capture the moon
- Trischaken ‘from above’, ‘outsuiting’, etc.
- Playing deck cards in the tirschaken tricks
- Overturning the high-point rule using contra (so that a game can be won with just 35 points)
- Displaying a discarded tarock
- Prohibition of laying a tarock
Prohibition of ‘shooting late’ (calls and contras which can be made in a later round than usual)
- Contra for negative games for each individual player
- Doubling after catching the moon, trischaken
- Discussing strategy with the opponent in ouvert (‘chatting’)
- The player to the left of the forehand starts play in three of suits
‘Activate’ cards from the deck only through your own deck -
- Minimum number of suit cards necessary for a suit game
Some of the things allowed by these rules are not really useful but are still allowed (e.g. simultaneously calling pagat and king ultimo). Plays like these can be used to confuse the opponent.
To calculate points, the cards in the tricks are counted individually and have the following point values:
- Tarock I (‘pagat’) 4 1/3
- Tarock XXI (‘moon’) 4 1/3
- Sküs 4 1/3
- King 4 1/3
- Queen 3 1/3
- Knight 2 1/3
- Jack 1 1/3
- others 1/3
The basic game is won with 35 2/3 points and has the score shown in the bidding table. When less points are scored the bidder loses the basic game and has to pay the relevant score (double the score in the case of six threes). If the bidder is playing solo (threes, caller without partner), the player gets the score from all three opponents (or has to pay it to all three). Each contra/recontra/subcontra in the game doubles the score.
Additional bonuses have the value listed in the table. Called bonuses are worth twice the value (even if it is not won, in which case it must be paid to the opponent). Every contra/recontra/subcontra to this call doubles the score.
Special rules for valat:
If valat is played, values of all other premiums/calls and even the basic game are no longer counted unless a silent valat is worth less than the game without the valat (in which case the silent valat is ignored).
If solo is played, the basic game is worth twice as much (see Bidding Table). All bonuses are also doubled (even the valat).
Piccolo and beggar have a fixed values (see table) and no bonuses. Only contras/recontras/subcontras to the basic game double its value. The game bidder gets the same score from the other three players (or pays it to them).
Trischaken has a score of 2, and no calls or contras are allowed.
Each player, who has the most points among their tricks at the end, pays the score to the other three: If there is a tie for the highest score, the player sitting closest to the forehand (or the forehand, as the case may be) is considered higher.
If the loser has 32 or more points in their tricks (‘mayor’), they pay twice as much. If the forehand loses the trischaken, they pay twice as much (or even four times as much if they also end up being ‘Mayor’).