Guest Post: Evaluating the specials

Editor’s note: Due to an irregularity with the leaderboard, another player was temporarily ranked #1 so shall be featured in this guest post. Hopefully the regularly scheduled programming will resume shortly.

In a previous post (https://wodka-strategy.uk.to/index.php/2020/06/17/passing-cards-part-1-banned-cards/) the former #1 posits that all the special cards hold a certain amount of power and one should avoid passing them to your opponents. But exactly how much power do the specials hold, and when can they be passed to your opponents?

In this short guest post, I want to go through the red specials and evaluate them briefly.

Two

Can be a 2 or a 3

The special two is a very flexible card, and usually helps a player get rid of other low cards. With the special two, you are “protected” against being passed a single 2 or 3, as you’ll be able to play them together. It can help you create bombs, but wary opponents are unlikely to pass you the cards you need.

This should never be passed to an opponent.

Three

Give a card to another player

The special three is similar in power level to an Ace. It lets you get rid of another low card you don’t want, and you can try and screw over an opponent’s Wodka with it. It is one of the strongest cards in the game.

This should never be passed to an opponent.

Four

Skip the next player’s turn

This four is strong, especially in combination with a “combo” trick (like a long straight) as one of the two opponents doesn’t get the chance to beat it. It’s often helpful for aiding your partner in going out. In the endgame, it is a guaranteed trick-winner.

This can be passed to an opponent if absolutely necessary. If you do, however, it’s important to take any Grand Wodkas into account. If I’ve Grand Wodka’d, I’d pass it left. If my partner has, I’d pass it right. This way, the Grand Wodka’d player always gets the opportunity to play.

Five

Can be a 5 or a 5 and a 6

The special five increases the chance of a straight flush bomb considerably.

This can be passed to an opponent if you do your due diligence. For example, when holding other low red cards, then it is fairly safe to pass. For example, if I am holding the red four and the red 8, I know a red straight flush bomb with the red 5 is not possible and I can pass it away safely.

Six

The next trick must be of lower value

The special six is a very interesting card, especially during the end game.

This can be passed to the right opponent so long as you remember to keep a low single or pair to play on top of it.

Seven

You go first. Counts as all suits.

The seven is strong for two reasons:

• It lets you go first
• It provides protection against the wishing eight

This should never be passed to an opponent.

Eight

Wish for a suit from another player. They must give you a matching card if able.

The wishing eight is a very skill-testing card. To an experienced player, it can be brutal for they will often be able to wish for a critical card.

This should certainly never be passed to an experienced opponent, and extreme caution should accompany its passing to opponents of all levels.

Nine

If you placed a Grand Wodka/Wodka, counts as a Queen/King

The special 9 is an interesting card. Passing it to an opponent is a psychological gambit which can goad a player into making a Wodka.

This can be passed to an opponent if you think they are likely to make a Wodka they can’t fulfil. Make sure to think of that player’s track record before passing it.

Ten

Take a card from the previous trick for you or your partner

The special 10 can allow a player to fill in gaps in their hand, or even create bombs. However, one should not fall into the trap of waiting too long to snap up the perfect card. The 10-bomb is probably the strongest bomb in the game because of this card.

This should never be passed to an opponent.

Jack

Counts as a pair of Jacks

The special Jack is part of the most common bomb in the game. Although it can technical be a disadvantage (as it can’t be played alone or in straights), it’s almost always better than a regular Jack.

This should never be passed to an opponent.

Queen

Subtract 1 from the value of the highest card in your hand

The special Queen, when played well, can improve a hand. It can create bombs or pairs, and sometimes it can nullify the downside of the special Ace.

This should never be passed to an opponent.

King

Add 1 to the value of the highest card in the next player’s hand

The special King is a dangerous card to play.

Unusually for such a high card, I think it is sometimes acceptable to pass to an opponent. It can be useful to pass it left, if you also pass a King to your partner. You can also pass it right, so long as you remember to take it into consideration. If playing it creates a Tsar, that can leave your opponents in a very tricky spot.

Ace

Draw a card from the deck

The special Ace is an unusual card. You’ll usually want to play it as early as you can so you can factor the extra card into your hand and so you can use the information it gives you. Although it’s weaker than an Ace, it still lets you lead a trick. It can be rated similarly in power level to the special 7.

This should never be passed to an opponent.

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