Bird Dog

Bird Dog is a thoughtful card game for three players with novel gameplay. It accelerates features from established games within the canon of Spades, Hearts, and Euchre.  The game is played by acquiring pairs of face cards throughout each hand. Bird Dog was created in collaboration in 2017.

Take a walk through of an open hand:

General Overview

Number of Players

Three players

The Deck

Euchre deck: 9 through Ace

Objective of the Game

Be the first player to earn 11 points
How to earn points
Points are earned by winning pairs of face cards (Jack with Jack, Queen with Queen, King with King)
– Each face card can only be used once; i.e. three Jacks creates one pair, four Jacks creates two pairs.

Setting up the Hand

The Deal

Seven cards are dealt to each player clockwise around the table, leaving three cards un-dealt.  The top card of the remaining three is flipped face up.

Determining trump and the Bird Dog

The suit shown of the card face up is the potential trump for the hand. The same color and the same value of the card face up is the potential highest card in the hand, henceforth referred to as the Bird Dog.
– For example: If the 10 of Diamonds is face up as the potential trump determining card, the 10 of Hearts is the potential Bird Dog.
The player left of the dealer has the first option to declare, establishing the trump and beginning the hand. If they do not declare, they may pass and the option to declare goes clockwise around the table. If all three players pass, the face up card is flipped face down, the next card is flipped face up, and again the player left of the dealer has the first option to declare and establish trump as the suit of the face up card. If all three players again pass, the face up card is flipped face down, the last card of the pile of three is flipped face up and establishes the trump suit and the Bird Dog.
– Cards that were not flipped (or were flipped face-down) remain face-down for the hand.  The card determining the trump suit remains visible throughout the hand.
– The Bird Dog is the highest card in the hand and retains its own suit.

Gameplay

Objective: Acquire Pairs of Face Cards

When a player wins a trick they acquire all of the cards within that trick. If a face card (Jack, Queen, King only; Ace has no face) is acquired it is placed face-up in front of the player for the rest of the hand as reference (non-face cards are removed from view).  If a player acquires two of the same value face cards they are stacked with both visible to indicate a pair.
– Those two cards may not be used in the creation of another pair, i.e. if a third face card of the same value is acquired, it is placed face-up separate of the existing pair.

The Lead

The player to the left of the dealer begins the hand.  They play a single card and may play whichever card they would like, including trump. Play proceeds around the table clockwise.  Each subsequent trick is led by the player who won the previous trick.

Follow Suit

A player must follow the suit led at the start of the trick.  If a player does not have any cards of the lead suit, they may play whichever card they would like.
– The Bird Dog retains its suit and is played as such.

The Trick is taken

The trick is taken by the player who plays either: the highest card of the lead suit, or if a trump card was played the highest trump card, or if the Bird Dog was played, the Bird Dog.  That player acquires all three cards that were in the trick, placing any face cards acquired face-up in front of them.  That player then leads for the next trick.

Completion of a Hand

A hand concludes once all of the cards held are played as part of a trick; seven tricks in all.

Scoring

Each pair earned throughout the hand is worth one point.

Winning a Hand and Earning the Bonus Point

The winner of the hand is the player who acquired the most number of pairs of face cards (Jack, Queen, King) throughout the hand. If that player did not declare and establish the trump prior to the hand, they earn a bonus point. If they did declare the trump or there is a tie, no bonus point is awarded.

Going Nil

Each player after the trump is established and prior to the first card being played has the opportunity to go Nil. The player left of the dealer has the first option, the option then continues clockwise around the table. If a player goes Nil, they are placing a three point bet that they will win no tricks throughout the hand. If the Nil is successful, the player going nil earns three points. If the Nil is broken, that player loses three points. Regular scoring continues with one point awarded for each pair acquired throughout the hand.

Winning the Game

The first player to earn 11 points wins the game. If two players reach 11 on the same hand, another hand is played including all three players. The player with the highest score after the hand is the winner.

References

Bird Dog has been recognized by Pagat as an Invented Game.

Check out another novel game Alamo.  It is a combination of War and Texas Hold ’em

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