Rules for the Wizard Card Game

By Shea Laverty
A wizard is more than just a whimsical character; it's an enjoyable card game.

In 1986, Ken Fisher released a variant on the card game "Oh Hell," named Wizard. Today, the trick bidding game is internationally licensed and sold commercially in the United States, Canada, Germany and Italy.

Equipment

Wizard employs a special 60-card deck, consisting of a standard 52-card deck of playing cards and eight additional cards: four Wizard cards and four Jester cards.

Number of Players

Wizard can be played by three to six players.

Object of the Game

Players try to correctly predict the number of tricks, or scoring units, they will take during each round. Correct predictions earn points, and the player with the most points by the end wins.

Dealing

A dealer is determined by dealing one card to each player. The highest card deals, and each subsequent round, the role of dealer passes to the left, with a fresh shuffle of all 60 cards. On the first deal, each player is dealt one card. On the second, they will receive two cards, three on the third, and so on in that fashion until all cards are dealt. After dealing, the next card in the deck is turned face up to determine the trump suit, a suit in which the highest card wins the trick, even over the highest card being led. Should the card be a Jester, it is turned face down and there is no trump during that round. If the card is a Wizard, the dealer chooses one of the four suits as the trump. On the final round, there is no trump, as all cards are dealt.

Bidding Tricks

Beginning to the left of the dealer, each player declares the number of tricks they will take. In the first round, this number is zero or one. The scorekeeper records the bid on their score pad. The number of tricks bid may not equal more than the total number of tricks available. However, should the last player to bid be the highest scorer on the score pad, and not tied for the lead, they can't bid. This makes the bids "even," meaning the total tricks bid equals the total tricks available. At the end of the hand, someone must lose points after play, because more or fewer tricks have been bid than are available.

Hidden Bidding

Hidden bidding is a variation on bidding wherein all players simultaneously reveal their bid instead of in turn.

Delayed Reveal Bidding

Another variation on bidding is delayed reveal, wherein all players secretly record their bid. The bids are revealed after the hand has been played.

Game Play

Play begins to the left of the dealer. Any card may be played to start the round as the lead suit. Players continue play in a clockwise order and, if possible, must follow suit. Only two exceptions to the rule exist. At any time, a Wizard or Jester may be played, even if the player is holding a card matching the lead suit. The trick is won in three ways: by the first Wizard played, by the highest trump card played if no Wizard is played or by the highest card in the lead suit if no trump is played. The winner of the trick leads next.

Leading with Wizards

If the lead card is a Wizard, it wins the trick. The player can play any card they wish, including another Wizard.

Leading with Jesters

If the lead card is a Jester, it counts as a null card. The next card played determines the suit for that round. Jesters are always losing cards, unless only Jesters are played. In this case, the first Jester played in the round wins the trick.

Scoring

Each player scores 20 points for correctly predicting the number of tricks they take. They gain ten additional points for each trick taken. Incorrect predictions deduct ten points from the score for each card over or under the trick.