This Trick-Taking Life: The Suits
“I never understood the appeal of trick-taking. Isn’t it just, we all put a card down and someone gets all the cards?”
Thus spake someone on social media this past week. I’m keeping their identity anonymous. Not so much because it’s a wrong opinion. Because it’s an opinion I shared not all that long ago. Growing up in a family where playing cards were an endowment from the devil, there wasn’t much room for anything more complicated than UNO. When I married into a trick-taking family, the appeal was lost on me. The processes seemed random. Yet the same people won no matter how poor their hand. Maybe, just maybe, there was something more to these games than first met the eye.
This series is written for my past self. One layer at a time, I want to talk about what makes trick-taking special. Today, we’re starting with the barest of basics: the suits.
At this level of saturation, I can’t help but wonder if trick-taking games aren’t a little bit like pursuing a graduate degree — to prove your bona fides, you’ve got to make an original contribution to the field. It’s a good thing, then, that the genre sources from an inexhaustible wellspring of creativity. I’ve played well over twenty new trick-takers over the past few months, all of them visibly kin, and it’s a sublime joy to sit down for a session, the basics already sketched out in your mind thanks to a hundred previous titles, and still have no idea what a treat you’re in for.
That’s certainly the case with Tall Tales, an unassuming little trick-taker that joins a long tradition of upending the status quo in exactly the right ways.