Illustrated Tarock

Unraveling a game of Illustrated Tarock: Rules, Instructions & Winning Strategy


We’ve covered some tarot games before and Illustrated Tarock is another of those similar, from the same card game family of Tarot. This game, with its unique blend of strategy and chance, is a variant of the classic Tarot card game. It’s played with a 54-card deck, which includes 22 trumps (also known as tarocks), and 32 suit cards.

Quick Tip for Illustrated Tarock

Remember, the key to winning at Illustrated Tarock is to make the most of your trumps and to keep track of the cards that have been played.

Rules for playing Illustrated Tarock

The rules of Illustrated Tarock are simple enough. The game is typically played by three players, with each player aiming to score the most points by taking tricks. The player who bids the highest becomes the declarer and tries to score more points than the other two players combined. House rules can vary, but the basic principles remain the same.

The Deal for Illustrated Tarock

The dealer shuffles the deck and deals 17 cards to each player, with the remaining three cards placed in the center of the table to form the talon. The declarer then picks up these cards and discards three from their hand.

How to Play Illustrated Tarock

  1. Setup: The game begins with the dealer distributing the cards and the players bidding to become the declarer.
  2. Gameplay: The declarer leads the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible, otherwise, they can play any card. The highest card of the suit led or the highest trump wins the trick.
  3. End of the Game: The game ends when all tricks have been played. Points are then calculated based on the cards won in tricks.
  4. Scoring: Different cards carry different point values. The player with the highest total wins the game.

How to Win at Illustrated Tarock

Winning at Illustrated Tarock requires a good balance of strategy and luck. It’s important to manage your trumps wisely and to keep track of the cards that have been played. Also, bidding aggressively can give you an advantage, but be careful not to overbid and fall short of your target.

Firstly, managing your trump cards is crucial to securing a win. These are the cards that can trump or outrank other cards, making them valuable assets in the game. You need to be strategic in when and how you use these trump cards. Play them too early, and you might find yourself defenseless against later rounds. Play them too late, and you might end up not being able to use them to their full potential. You need to strike a balance and use them at the precise moment to maximize their impact.

Keeping track of the cards that have been played is equally important. You need to be aware of which cards are out of play and which ones are still in the game. This will help you anticipate your opponents’ moves and plan your own strategy accordingly. For instance, if you know that most of the high-rank cards have already been played, you can play your own high-rank cards with a higher degree of certainty.

Bidding is another critical aspect of the game. Bidding aggressively can give you an advantage as it provides you with the opportunity to influence the progression of the game. However, it’s a double-edged sword. Overbidding can lead to you falling short of your target, thereby losing points and potentially the game. Thus, while bidding can be a useful tool, it’s vital to be careful and not let ambition cloud your judgment.

In conclusion, Illustrated Tarock is a game of balance. It’s about strategizing your moves, managing your resources, and taking calculated risks. While luck plays a part, it’s your understanding of the game, your ability to anticipate and adapt, and your decision-making skills that ultimately determine your success.

Best Strategies for playing Illustrated Tarock game

One of the best strategies in Illustrated Tarock is to try and control the game by winning the bid and becoming the declarer. This allows you to lead the first trick and dictate the pace of the game. Also, remember to keep track of the cards that have been played, especially the high-value ones.

1. Learn the Basics: Begin by learning the rules and objectives of the game. Illustrated Tarock is a challenging game and requires a good understanding of its basics. Familiarize yourself with the deck, which consists of 78 cards: 21 trumps, a special card known as the Fool, and 4 suits of 14 cards each.

2. Understand the Scoring System: The scoring system in Illustrated Tarock is based on the number of points each player accumulates during the game, with certain cards having specific point values.

3. Plan Your Strategy: Since Illustrated Tarock is a partnership game, it is essential to plan your strategy with your partner. You should know when to lead with a high card or follow suit, and when to play a trump card.

4. Know When to Bid: Bidding is an essential part of Illustrated Tarock. Knowing when to bid and how high to bid can greatly influence the outcome of the game. Bidding high can give you control of the game, but it also increases the risk of losing.

5. Memorize the Cards: As with any card game, memorizing the cards that have been played can give you a significant advantage. This allows you to predict which cards your opponents might have left.

6. Observe Your Opponents: Paying attention to how your opponents play can provide valuable clues about their strategy and the cards they hold. This information can be used to adjust your own strategy.

7. Practice Regularly: The best strategy for improving at Illustrated Tarock is regular practice. This will help you become more comfortable with the game’s unique deck and complex scoring system.

8. Use the King Ultimo: Playing the King Ultimo (playing the King of a suit as the last card of a suit) is a risky but potentially rewarding strategy. It can net you a significant number of points if successful.

9. Use the Pagat Ultimo: Similar to the King Ultimo, the Pagat Ultimo (playing the smallest Trump, the Pagat, as the last card) can also give you a large number of points. However, it requires careful planning and a bit of luck.

10. Communicate with Your Partner: Communication with your partner is key in Illustrated Tarock. Try to give subtle hints about your hand and strategy through your play, without revealing too much to your opponents.

Game Variations of Illustrated Tarock

There are several variations of Illustrated Tarock, including the four-player version where two teams of two players compete against each other. In this version, the rules and gameplay remain largely the same, but the dynamics of team play add an extra layer of strategy and excitement.

Scenarios for Illustrated Tarock

There are many scenarios that can arise in Illustrated Tarock. For instance, you might find yourself with a hand full of trumps, which can be a great advantage. On the other hand, if you’re left with low-value cards, you’ll need to play smart and use your cards strategically to try and win tricks.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Illustrated Tarock game

  1. How many players can play Illustrated Tarock? The game is typically played by three players, but there are variations for four players as well.
  2. What is the objective of the game? The objective is to score the most points by taking tricks.
  3. How are points calculated? Different cards carry different point values. The player with the highest total wins the game.
  4. What is the role of the declarer? The declarer is the player who bids the highest and leads the first trick.
  5. What happens if I can’t follow suit? If you can’t follow suit, you can play any card.

For some further reading on the history and extent of Tarot games, I do recommend the (free online pdf) of A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack by Michael Dummett and John Mcleod