How To Play:
synSpades works like most
Arcadian toys in that you first must find or
create a server which is hosting the game. (Or
play in solo mode, of course).
Once there, you
will see a table in the foreground, a table
selector in the upper right, and a score panel in
the upper left.
- Click on a
table on the table selector to bring that
table into view.
- Click on a
face on the current table, to bring that
'seat' to the front.
- If the seat
is occupied by a bot, and no game is in
progress on that table, a panel will
appear which invites you to take that
- The first
person to sit at a table is the 'dealer'
for that table, and the game starts once
the dealer pushed the deal button.
- The person
whose turn it is will spout flames from
their head, for no other reason than I
felt like making a flame animation. You
can pretend their head is hot from all
- You can
right-click on a face to get a little
menu of goodies.
you're playing the card game "Spades"
whose rules are recapped here. There are some
rule variations allowed, and you can review them
by pressing the "Toy Options" button on
the Arcadia tool bar.
The Rules of Spades
actually a very simple game, and easy to play. Of
course, you won't believe this after having read
my convoluted attempt at describing the rules
here. Also, there are many variations allowed in
the game (many of which are supported in this
program as options selected by the host of the
First, however, let's try to describe the basic
game without making too many errors. Try not to
Spades is played
with four players and a deck of 52 cards. Players
earn points according to a horribly complicated
scheme. The first player to reach the winning
score (usually 300 points) is the winner. Along
the way it is possible to lose points. In fact,
it is quite possible to accumulate negative
points. And, in fact, people seem to have the
most fun when they are forcing YOU to have
To get things started, the dealer deals out the
entire deck, 13 cards to each player. Players
then take turns exposing one card at a time as a
series of tricks. (Each trick is 4 cards, one
from each player). Basically, the high card
'takes' the trick. Thirteen of these tricks form
a 'round' and thereafter the next player deals
for the next round. This continues until someone
However, here is
where it starts to get interesting. Before
playing the first trick of the round, each player
looks at his or her cards and makes a 'bid' as to
how many tricks they think they can take. (For
example, if you have a lot of high cards, you
might think you can take a lot of tricks, so you
would bid higher.) The number of points you earn
at the end of the round is a function of your bid
and how many tricks you actually take in that
round. Your bid might be anywhere between zero
(This is called bidding NIL and means you think
you can take NO tricks) and 13 (which means you
are incredibly optimistic and/or naive)
The number of points you earn is computed as
following. If you meet your bid (take as many
tricks, or more, than you bid), you earn 10
points for each trick you bid, and an additional
1 point for any 'overtricks' (tricks you took in
excess of your bid). For example, if you bid 3
and took 5, you would earn 30 points for meeting
your bid, and 2 more for your two overtricks, for
a total of 32 points for that round.
BUT.. if you FAIL to meet your bid, you LOSE ten
points for each trick bidded. For example, if you
bid 5 and only took 4, then you would LOSE 50
points. So, don't bid for more tricks than you
really think you can take.
Just to make the
game REALLY tension-inducing, there is a penalty
for taking too many overtricks. You are penalized
one HUNDRED points each time you accumulate 10
overtricks. So if you take 4 overtricks in the
first round, 3 in the next, and 3 in the next,
then you will earn a whopping -100 point penalty.
This is how we make the game last a VERY long
time. So, ideally, it is important to EXACTLY
meet your bid and not to exceed it.
Well.. I can
hear you wondering, what if I bid NIL (0) and am
successful in taking no tricks. This might be
tough, is my reward zero points? NO, because you
will have done something wonderful (especially
considering that your 'friends' will have done
everything in their power to FORCE you to take a
trick), you will receive ONE HUNDRED POINTS!
Of course, spades is a game of high risk and high
reward, so if you bid NIL and then you DO take
one or more tricks.. you guessed it.. you LOSE
ONE HUNDRED POINTS. But, in an unusually fair
gesture, those 'overtricks' don't get counted
against your total overtricks.
If you're feeling VERY risky (or desperate), you
can earn TWO HUNDRED points by bidding BLIND NIL.
This is done by bidding NIL BEFORE YOU HAVE EVEN
SEEN YOUR CARDS. Needless to say, this is almost
certainly an act of desperation. But if you are
the last to bid and everyone else is bidding
really high, maybe you got all the wimpy cards.
And, of course, if you FAIL in your BLIND NIL
BID, you will, of course LOSE two hundred points.
The Lead Suit
Well, now back
to that statement: "The high card takes the
trick." Well, it isn't QUITE that simple,
but almost. Basically, as we know, a trick
consists of each player selecting a card and
placing it on the table. The FIRST card played in
the trick selects the LEAD suit. Everyone else
has to play cards in the same suit for them to
have a chance to win the trick. If hearts are
'lead', then you MUST play a heart (if you have
one) and the highest ranking heart wins the
trick. If you don't have any cards in the lead
suit, then you can play any suit you do have.
And now we get to the name of the game - Spades.
It is called Spades because the suit of Spades is
TRUMP. A spade always counts more than any other
suit. If someone leads hearts (for example), and
you have no hearts, but you DO have some spades,
you can play a low spade and still win the trick.
(if two or more players play a spade, the high
Takes the Trick?
So, for example,
let's say three players have played the Ace,
King, and Queen of diamonds. You don't have any
diamonds. But you DO have the lowly 2 of spades,
which you play. YOU win the trick.
On the other hand, if the 2, 3, and 4 of hearts
are played, and you have no hearts AND you have
no spades, and you play the King of Clubs...
well, you do NOT take the trick. (the 4 of hearts
would win in this case).
Well, I think that's about all the rules except:
When can you lead spades? Generally you cannot
put down a spade as the first (the lead) card of
a trick. However, once someone has been forced to
play a spade (because they didn't have any cards
in the lead suit, or they had nothing left but
spades), then the suit is said to be 'broken' and
thereafter anyone can lead spades as if they were
any other suit. (Until the end of this round, of
course, spades becomes illegal to lead again as
soon as the next round is dealt).
In fact, the computer is going to to keep you
honest, so don't worry about it too much. Just
obey any little edicts which appear from time to
One of the rules
which the host can change is whether you will
play as partners, or as individuals (as described
above). In Partner play, two pairs of partners
play against each other. Partners always sit
across from each other at the table. Partner play
is usually to 500 points, but the host may select
a different finish score.
In Partner mode, each partner bids separately,
seeing only his or her own cards and without any
detailed discussion with their partner.
Thereafter, however, their bids are considered
collectively and the final tricks taken by the
partnership is what matters. Hence if one partner
bids 2 and the other bids 5, it is only important
that, between them, they take a total of 7
tricks, not that the individuals meet their
Scoring is the same (only using the collective
bids and tricks taken) with a single score
maintained for each partnership. Unlike
Free-For-All, it is possible to lose in partner
mode by collecting sufficient negative points.
(one half the finish score, in fact.) So if the
finish score is 500 points, your partnership will
lose if it ever drops to (or below) -250 points.
There are two other special scoring
considerations in Partner mode. The first is a
200 point BONUS if the partners manage to take
all 13 tricks (no matter what they bid). The
second is in the handling of NIL and BLIND NIL
in Partner Play
If one (or both)
partners bid NIL (or BLIND NIL), then their
scores are handled separately for that round, and
then added together at the end of the round. For
example, if one partner bids 3 and the other bids
NIL. Then, during the round the first partner
takes 5, and the other takes none, the first
partner will earn 32 points (30 for the bid, plus
2 overtricks accrued only by that player) and the
second player will earn 100 points (for
successful NIL) and the partnership as a whole
will score 132 points for that round.
If the second player takes even a single trick,
his NIL bid fails (the trick cannot be applied to
his partner's bid in this case), and he
contributes -100 points to his partnership for
the round, which is then added to his (angry)
partner's score for the round.