a trick-taking curio for 3-4 players
Nonesuch is a trick-taking game distinguished by two central mechanics: At the beginning of the hand, the player dealt the Excuse gets some control over trump. At the beginning of each trick, the player leading it names a specific suit which other players must follow.
Randomly decide who will deal the first hand. Subsequent hands are dealt by the player on the old dealer's left.
The dealer shuffles the basic deck plus the Excuse and deals cards out as evenly as possible to all players: 12 each with three players; 9 each with four players. This will leave one card left over; it's dealt face up in the middle of the table.
If the up card is an Ace or Crown, then its suit will be the trump for this hand. If the up card is a number rank, then one of its suits will be trump; the player holding the Excuse will decide after bidding is complete. If the up card is the Excuse itself, then there will be no trump suit.
After looking at cards but before play begins, players each make a bid. The player on the dealer's left bids first, then each player clockwise around the table bids. There are three possible bids.
A bid of Some means that the player expects to take at least one trick. The player scores one point at the end of the hand for each trick they've taken.
A bid of Most means that the player expects to take at least half the tricks. If the player does, they score two points for each trick they've won. If not, then they lose one point for each trick less than half that they've taken.
A bid of None means that the player hopes to take exactly zero tricks. If they do, they score a number of points equal to the number of tricks in the hand; 12 in a three-player game, for example. If not, they lose one point for each trick they've taken.
Once every player has bid, the player who has the Excuse reveals it and discards it. If the up card is a number rank card, then that player decides which of its suits will be trump. In any case, they take the up card into their hand to replace the Excuse.
The player on the dealer's left leads the first trick.
You may not lead a card with the trump suit until a trump card has been played in the hand, unless you have nothing but trumps in your hand.
When a card is led, the player who led it must select and announce one of the suits on the card. If the lead is an Ace or Crown, there is no choice; just say what the suit is. For number cards, you need to select which suit other players will be required to follow.
Clockwise around the table, each player plays a card that has the named suit. Players who have no cards of the named suit may play any card from their hand.
If no trump was played, then the highest card of the named suit wins the trick. If any trumps were played, then the highest trump wins the trick. Aces lose to 2s, and Crowns beat 9s.
For the purpose of following suit, all that matters is the named suit. But a card counts as trump if it has the trump suit, even if trump is different from the named suit.
The winner of the trick leads the next trick. Once someone has played a trump, it is permissible to lead with a trump card.
Example: s are trump.
Tarrant plays 8 and calls Suns (). Each subsequent player must play a card if they have one. Raphael plays 2 which both follows suit () and is a trump card (). Unless someone else plays a higher trump, Raphael will win the trick.
After the last trick, calculate scores based on players' bids and the number of tricks they've won. The player on the dealer's left deals the next hand.
For the sake of having an official number, I recommend playing until some player reaches a cumulative score of 31 points or more. The player with the highest cumulative score is then the winner.
Nonesuch is a game by P.D. Magnus. It appeared originally in the Decktet Book.