Napoleon, the Card Game
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         Like the card game Mao, Napoleon is a game named after a great and powerful leader. This game could be called "Emperor," or "Conquerer," following the naming style set by President (Asshole) and Dictator (Mao) (or perhaps President/Asshole should be called "Clinton"). Like Asshole, this game also has a sour name; Nipple (an abbreviation of Napoleon). Napoleon is named after Napoleon Bonaparte because he was a great conquerer. The object of each game is to collect an amount of royalty (face cards; tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces) to make or break the bid. The highest bidder is the Napoleon. The Napoleon then announces a card, whose bearer is the Napoleon's secret partner, his general. Napoleon and his general will try to win at least the bidded number of face cards and the others will try to prevent this. Napoleon is a game of "trust;" players will trust each other not to be the general, and the Napoleon trusts the other players to be the general when they drop royalty in a trick.
         This is not your parents' Napoleon (often called "Nap," originally from Britain). While in the same family of card games (called "Triumph" games), this game is derived from the Five-Hand Five Hundred version of Euchre. The notable difference between this new Napoleon and the older version separates it from all other trick-based games--the points associated with bids are not tricks won, they are face cards won.
         Other games in the Triumph family include the classic Napoleon (British), Éncarté (French), Spoil Five & Forty-Five (both from Ireland), and Euchre (America). Variants of Euchre include Cutthroat (Three-Hand Euchre), Railroad Euchre, Call-Ace Euchre, Hasenpfeffer (German, means "Rabbit Stew"), and Five Hundred (Invented by the United States Playing Card Company in 1904). Five Hundred and its variants are the only games in the Triumph family to use a full 52 card deck. "The idea was to provide Euchre enthusiasts with a game having greater opportunity for skill, by dealing out the full pack [of cards]. Five Hundred became popular immediately, and for twenty years it shared with Auction Bridge the lead among trick-winning games." -Hoyle's Rules of Games Second Edition by Morehead and Mott-Smith, pg 112. Download the 500 game for the computer. The new Napoleon is derived from Five Hundred.
         Deal: A standard deck is used, with no jokers. This game can be played with four or five people. Aces are high. The dealer shuffles and deals each player twelve cards (with four players) or ten cards (with five players). The remaining cards are put face-down in the middle.
         Bid: Players then view their hands, sorting by suit. A bid is an attempt to be Napoleon. You bid announcing the number of face cards (10, J, Q, K, A) you plan to win with your partner (there are twenty in a full deck), followed by the suit you want trump. For example, if you have a large amount of high clubs, you may bid "eleven clubs." Players may bid as many times as they desire, up to a bid of twenty (almost impossible). The player who wins the bidding is the Napoleon. He announces a card (such as Ace of Spades) and the holder of that card is Napoleon's secret partner, his "general." Napoleon then takes the two or four cards in the middle into his hand and then discards the same number of cards, placing them face down in a discard pile.
         Play: Once the Napoleon has discarded the extra cards, he leads, playing any card he desires. Play goes clockwise. Each player must follow suit if possible. The highest card of the lead suit wins the trick (aces high) unless a person without cards in that suit plays a card in the trump suit. The highest trump would win. The winner of each trick takes the face cards (tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces) and places them face up in front of him or herself. The rest of the cards are turned face down in the discard pile. There only needs to be one discard pile. The winner of each trick leads the next.
         Special Cards: If every player follows suit, the trick is not the first trick, there are no super-cards in the trick (see later), and a player has played the two of the suit, the two wins the trick. There are three super-cards (also called power cards), the ace of spades, the jack of trump suit, and the jack of trump color. If the ace of spades is played in a trick, the ace of spades wins. If the jack of the trump suit is played in a trick and the ace of spades is not, the trump jack wins. If the previous two cards were not played and the jack of the same color as the trump suit is played, then that jack wins. Super-cards will beat trump cards. If clubs is trump, the ace of clubs is the fourth most powerful card in the game. The queen, king, and ace of clubs would lose to the jack of clubs or spades. The jacks of the opposite color as trump (in the example this would be hearts and diamonds) are not special.
         Trust: In this game, players can say, trust. In most circles, you can only say "trust" if you have already played a card in the current trick. Saying "trust" means that you think that you are going to win the trick and that the other players should trust that you aren't the general (or that Napoleon should trust that you are). This is part of the "secret partner" aspect of the game. It makes the game more exciting and less predictable than spades or pitch.


Points (all cumulative)
Killed Target 650pts.
Made Open-faced Misere bid 650pts.
Made Closed-faced Misere bid 500pts.
Made Opponent's bid 500pts.
Slamming (won all tricks) 150pts.
Sweeping (won all face cards) 100pts.
Had no generals (for Napoleon) 100pts.
Made No Trump bid 75pts.
Beat No Trump bid 100pts.
Made Regular bid (single suit) 50pts.
Beat Regular bid 100pts.
Over-powered card 50pts.
Won all powers on same trick 50pts.
Per power card 15pts.
Joker 6pts.
Per trump card 10pts.
Per nontrump diamond 7pts.
Per nontrump heart 6pts.
Per nontrump spade 5pts.
Per nontrump club 4pts.
Per face card 3pts.


  • The Joker may be shuffled into the deck as ranking over the Ace of Spades (and of no suit--or of trump suit, as determined before the deal), adding a card to the pickup. Some circles replace the Ace of Spades with the Joker.
  • Bidding is performed without suit. The first suit led is trump.
  • Bidding is done bridge-style; clubs are lowest, then spades, hearts, diamonds, and no trump; a bid of fifteen spades is less than a bid of fifteen no trump. This is ususally incorporated with the point system.
  • A bid of twenty in a five player game allows Napoleon to name a second general after taking the pickup.
  • Picking up the general card and displaying it to the rest of the players will allow another general to be picked at a penalty of raising the bid by one point (twenty cannot be raised).
  • Misere (also called Nullo): a bid of zero. Closed-face Misere ranks as a bid of 17 (17 no trump in bridge-style). Open-faced Misere ranks as a bid of 19 (19 diamonds in bridge-style). A misere bid means that Napoleon will try to win no TRICKS. The general cannot win any points. Open-faced Misere means that the Napoleon's hand is displayed face-up to the rest of the players.
  • Target (also called Assassain): a reverse bid. Napoleon names a player (other than himself) who has not bid over fourteen and tries to make this person take all of the points. Some circles allow a general to Napoleon, others allow a general to the target (making a bigger target).
  • Powers are trump: The trump suit is ordered as follows: (Joker), Ace of spades, Jack of trump (right Bower), Jack of trump color (left Bower), Ace of trump, King of trump, Queen of trump, ten of trump, decending to two of trump. If trump is lead, players may follow suit or play a power. If a player is void in trump but has a power, the power must be played.
  • Numbers: in addition to bidding by suit, players may bid by number. The powers are the Ace of Spades, then the Jack of Diamonds, then the Jack of Spades unless Jacks is bid. If Jacks is bid, there is only one super card (unless the Joker is in the deck). The maximum number of trump is four, plus the three powers (and the Joker) for seven (or eight) trump in Powers are trump.
  • Auto-General: the ace of trump is automatically the general.
  • Tricks: the bid is not in face cards, but in tricks, making ten the maximum bid in five player games.

  •          Along with Bridge, Hearts, Mao, Bullshit, Asshole (also called Dalmuti, Corporate Shuffle (with Dilbert), President-look, its a evaluationware comuter game now!), I see Napoleon as one of the best group (4+ people) games out there. Well, okay. So Bridge, Napoleon, Spades, and Hearts (the trick-based games) aren't silly/party games but rather games of real strategy. Bullshit, Asshole, and Mao are party games that require not thought but attention. As for small group (2-4 people) games, I see Canasta, Ginn/Ginn Rummy/Rummy 500, Egyptian War/Egyptian Ratscrew/Egyptian Ratfuck (a combination of War and Slapjack), and Hearts as the best (Hearts can be played with three people by removing the three of clubs).

    © 1999 Khopesh, L+d.

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