7 Trick Avoidance Games

Invented by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com

Here are seven quick, easy card games for groups of three to six players. They're perfect when you have an unfamiliar group and need a game every one can learn and play together. We'll describe them together due to their many similarities.

In the final game, called Compendium, you play a single hand of each the other games we describe here, and one player emerges as the grand winner.

Four Bad Queens

Overview: This trick avoidance game is easy to play and hands are quick: if you receive a bad deal, it's only minutes before the next. This is the our own unique version of the game known as Polignac.

Players and Equipment: 3 to 6 players, 3 or 4 work best. Use a 32-card French deck. (Create one simply by removing all cards below 7's from a standard 52-card pack, including any Jokers.) If 3, 5, or 6 play, even the pack at 30 cards by removing the two black 7's. Cards rank A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7 in each suit.

Objective: Avoid taking the four queens, especially the Queen of Spades, in tricks.

Play: Deal out all cards. The player to dealer's right leads the first trick. Others must follow the suit led if possible; otherwise, they may play any card. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick and the winner leads the next trick. (There is no "trump" suit.)

Passing: Before playing to the first trick, each player passes three cards face down to the player to his right. The recipient cannot view those cards until he has set face down those he is passing to the player on his right. In the second deal, pass three cards to the player at left.

If three play, hold cards and do not pass in the third deal. If four play, in the third deal pass cards to the player opposite, and in the fourth deal, hold all cards (no passing).

Pass only two cards if 5 or 6 play.

Scoring: The lowest score wins the hand. The Queen of Spades scores 2 points for whoever wins it in a trick. The three other Queens count 1 point each for whoever wins them.

Winning Across Hands: Lowest total score across a series of hands wins the Game. Rotate the dealership (and lead player) clockwise every hand. Play a number of hands evenly divisible by the number of players. Thus for four players, before starting play you might agree that either four, eight, or twelve deals comprise a Game.

Optional Rule -- Shooting the Moon: After the deal -- but before play to the first trick -- any player may announce his intention to win all four queens. This is called "Shooting the Moon". If a player bids to shoot the moon and wins the four queens, he scores zero and his opponents each score 5. If the bidder loses his bid, he scores 5 and his opponents each score according to the queens they won in tricks.


Four Mad Queens

Scoring: This the same game as the Four Bad Queens -- except that players score 2 points for each red-suit Queen they win in tricks, 1 point for each black-suit Queen, and 2 points for winning the last trick. Thus a total of 8 points will be scored in the deal.

A declaration of "Shooting the Moon" is not permitted.

Slippery Paws

Scoring: This the same game as the Four Bad Queens, except that the objective is to avoid winning the first trick, the last trick, and the Queen of Spades. Each scores 1 point for whomever takes it. If a player takes all three penalties, he scores 4 points (instead of 3). Passing is optional in Slippery Paws. A declaration of "Shooting the Moon" is not permitted.


Overview: "Finis" refers to your last day on earth. Tradition says that he who wins at Finis shall enjoy a peaceful passing to the next world -- after a long, eventful life. Play your cards carefully, and may you find bonus fortuna. Warning: fairy tales admonish that a raven carries off the loser.

Rules: The rules of Finis may be simple, but you'll find it a surprisingly difficult game to win. The rules are the same as the Four Bad Queens, except that the sole objective is to lose the last trick. (None of the other tricks that are played count.) Passing is optional. A declaration of "Shooting the Moon" is not permitted.

Scoring: The player who wins the last trick scores 1 point, while all his opponents score no points. The lowest score across a predetermined number of hands wins Game.

Cruel Fate

Scoring: This is the same game as Finis, except that the player who wins the final trick wins the hand. He scores 0 points for that hand, while all opponents each score 1 point. The lowest total score across hands wins Game.

Acorn Hearts

Overview: This is a quick, easy version of Hearts, amongst the most popular of card games. This is our own version.

Objective: Avoid taking the any heart-suit cards, and the Queen of Spades, in tricks. Alternatively, win ALL the heart-suit cards in tricks, plus the Queen of Spades, by "Shooting the Moon".

Rules: Players do not announce if they are trying to shoot the moon. Part of the fun of the game is that this only becomes apparent to others during the course of play.

Passing is a normal, assumed part of the game.

Scoring: If a player wins all the hearts and the Queen of Spades, he scores 0 points, whilst his opponents each score 12 points. Otherwise, Hearts score 1 point each for players who capture them in tricks, and the Queen of Spades scores 4 points. The player with the least total points wins the hand.



Overview: Compendium consists of playing one deal of each of the above games. The player with the lowest cumulative point total across all 6 Hands wins Game.

Thus Compendium consists of 6 hands, each played consecutively. This chart summarises:

Hand:Rules:For Winning:Points
 1Four Bad QueensEach non-Spade Queen 1
The Spade Queen 2
All four Queens
(Shooting the Moon)
0 for bidder,
5 for each opponent
Failure at Shooting the Moon 5 for bidder,
Others score Queens won
 2Four Mad QueensEach red-suit Queen 2
Each black-suit Queen 1
The last trick 2
 3Slippery PawsThe First trick 1
The Spade Queen 1
The Last Trick 1
All 3 of above 4
 4FinisThe last trick1 for trick winner,
0 for each opponent
 5Cruel FateThe last trick0 for trick winner,
1 for each opponent
 6Acorn HeartsEach Heart 1/2
The Queen of Spades 2
All Hearts and the Queen of Spades
(Shooting the Moon)
0 for winner
6 for each opponent

Note: Points scored in Acorn Hearts are reduced by half in this chart versus the game's description. This keeps that hand's importance in proper relation to the other hands played in Compendium.


Differences from Traditional Games: There are several traditional games related to the Four Bad Queens, among them Polignac, The Four Jacks, and Quatre-Valets. Cards rank differently according to the authority one cites, as does whether one tries to avoid the third highest or fourth highest card in the ranking. Avoiding the third highest card renders the game the most skilful and challenging. In the original French version, cards rank K-Q-J-A-10-9-8-7 and players try to avoid taking any Jacks. A bid of "shooting the moon" is referred to as "capot". A game ends when one player scores a total of 10 points across hands. Whoever has the lowest score at that point wins Game. Scoring varies by the authority one cites.

The game is traditionally played without the passing of cards, which we've adapted from the game of Hearts. We enjoy the interactive psychological element passing adds.

Slippery Paws is related to the game called Slobberhannes, though it, too, exhibits differences. Acorn Hearts is simply an adaption of basic Hearts to a 32-card deck.

License: Feel free to print, copy, and distribute these rules, so long as you retain this paragraph. All games were invented by Howard Fosdick © 2023, distributed under Creative Commons License BY-ND.      HOME