Hearts is a trick taking game where the objective is to score the least number of points. It’s normally played with four players, but we’ve included both a three and five player variant. Game play is broken into a series of rounds, each round consisting of a passing stage and a play of hand stage. At the end of reach round points are tallied and if the game’s victory condition has been met, the game ends and the player with the lowest number of points wins.
Players each select three cards and then pass those cards to a specified player. In four player hearts, passing starts to the player on your left. In the second round, passing is to the right and in the third round passing is across the table. There is no passing in the fourth round. After the fourth round, passing starts again to the player to one’s left. This cycle repeats itself through the rest of the game.
Play of Hand stage
The play of hand stage proceeds with each player placing a card into the current trick. The first trick after the deal must be lead by the 2 of clubs. Following in a clockwise direction, each player adds a card to the trick until every player has placed a single card into the trick. When each player has placed one card into the trick, the trick is then won by the player with the highest valued card of the same suit as the card that lead the trick. The winning player then leads the next trick. This cycle is repeated until all players run out of cards.
There are some additional rules to follow when playing a card:
1. If possible, you must match the suit of the card that lead the trick.
2. You may not play a heart card or the queen of spades on the first trick
3. Before a heart or queen of spades can lead a trick, either a heart or queen of spades must previously have been played.
When all players have played all cards, scoring commences. For every heart a player has, they gain one point. The player who has the queen of spades gains an additional 13 points.
Shooting the Moon
If one player happens to gain 26 points in a given round, collecting all points cards, instead of that player gaining 26 points, that player gains 0 points and every other player gains 26 points.
Differences in 3 and 5 Player Hearts
1. In three player hearts, there is no passing across the table.
2. In five player hearts when passing across the table, instead of passing three cards to a single player, two cards are instead handed to each of the players not immediately to one’s right or left.
3. Instead of leading with the two of clubs on the first trick, instead the player with the three of clubs leads.