Category Archives: Card Tactics

The Unforgettable Zero

One of the, if not the most important special card is the red zero.

+1 point if played as your last card

This is the only card in the game which has the ability to grant an extra point and therefore should never be forgotten.

There are a few possible usages for the zero which I will look at today.

Basic tactics

The only card the zero can be played on top of is the red six. This means most of the time when you are intending to go out with the zero, you will want to save a strong trick as the penultimate thing that you play. Of course bombs are ideal, followed by aces and then by difficult to beat tricks such as long straights or strings of consecutive pairs. This will give you the best chance of being able to win the trick allowing you to lead with the zero and scoring that extra point.

It’s almost never a good idea to pass the zero to an opponent during the passing phase. The one scenario where I would encourage this is if your opponent has placed a Grand Wodka and they are already within five points of winning. In this instance the extra point won’t help them but having the zero will make it harder for them to go out.

A mini Wodka

If you are dealt the zero in your opening thirteen cards, and your hand doesn’t look like it will be sufficiently good to place a Wodka, but you think you might be able to go out with the zero you can choose to treat it somewhat like a Wodka in terms of your passing strategy. In other words, consider keeping back an ace that you might otherwise pass to your partner if you think it will enable you to go out with the zero.

The ultimate stopper

The zero is unique in that it can almost never be played in combination with another card. If you know someone is holding the zero and you have a bomb, you can with a high amount of certainty screw them over by waiting until they have just that card left and playing your bomb.

This isn’t an unbeatable strategy as there are still a few ways they might be able to play the zero or otherwise go out. Someone may wish it from them with the eight, play the six or pass them a higher card with the three.

Patience can be key

If you’re in the scenario where your hand consists of a couple winners and the zero, consider waiting until there aren’t any possible bombs left before trying to go out with the zero.

For example, if you have a pair of aces and the zero, but you’ve been counting Jacks and haven’t seen any, it may be worth waiting until you’ve seen two jacks before playing your aces. Otherwise you fall into the trap mentioned above and be bombed out to be left with only the zero.

Of course you can’t wait too long and risk letting your opponents go out, but if you still fear a bomb consider winning a singleton trick with one ace, leading the zero and going out with the final ace. Not getting the extra point from the zero isn’t ideal, but at least it leaves you less vulnerable to getting bombed.

Stealing the extra point

Sometimes you may suspect an opponent who is close to going out is holding the zero and you may not be able to stop them. In this instance if you have the eight you can use it to attempt to steal the zero from them. If this means you can go out with it after they do then great, but even if not at least you can prevent them from getting the extra point.

Summary

In summary, although a relatively simple card, the zero in incredibly important to remember and there are a number important considerations to to keep in mind to play properly around the zero.

The Build-A-Bomb Trap

The topic today focuses on a scenario I have encountered a few times where it can be easy to mistakenly overvalue a hand due it having a bomb you can build using the red queen.

Consider the hand:

At first glance this looks like a fairly solid hand. You have the red seven so you get to lead, along with an ace and two triples, one of which has a good chance of winning. To top it off you can build a four of a kind bomb by using the queen to turn the five into a four.

From that narrative it sounds like this should be a very doable Wodka. You have only two low singletons one of which you can lead with right away thanks to the seven. With all the winners in your hand plus the bomb you might expect to go out first.

The problem with this scenario is that we can’t count on a bomb created by the red queen before it has been made unless we have a guaranteed route to be able to create it.

In this scenario there isn’t a guaranteed route to create the bomb. Suppose we lead with the green six. If we plan on taking that trick with the ace that will mean if we play the triple queen the seven will be lowered by one instead of the five that we need to create the bomb. If we lead the seven after winning the trick with the ace that will free up the five to be selected by the red queen but there is no guarantee we will ever get the opportunity to play the three queens.

An alternative play would be to lead the six and then not take the trick with the ace. If you are able to offload your seven onto a singleton led by someone else and then win with the ace you can immediately play the triple queen or create the bomb. This is probably more likely to be successful but if you have placed a Wodka by this point there is no guarantee your opponents will ever let you play on a singleton seven, especially considering you have many of the lower cards in your hand.

Comparing this hand to a hypothetical starting hand where the only difference is that the queen has already been used to change the five into a four:

You can see that this is a much stronger hand and even has some bomb resilience.

With this hand you could lead the triple two into triple queen, followed by the six, leaving us with with just an ace, seven and the bomb. While not unbeatable this is a much stronger narrative compared to the first and where the only difference was that we had to create the bomb using the queen.

Summary

In summary, when evaluating the strength of a hand where you can create a bomb using the red queen, take care to ensure that you can guarantee being able to create the bomb before placing a risky Wodka.

Wishful Thinking

An old favorite card has returned into the standard set of specials. The new special eight allows you to wish for one card from one other player by selecting a suit and they must pass you a card of that suit if they have one. This is an incredibly powerful ability in the right hands such as an experienced Wodka veteran like myself. Even in the brief time that this card has been back in the game I have seen numerous questionable plays with it so below I shall outline a number of good uses of this ability and what do if targeted by wish.

The interface while using the eight

Wish immunity

Before going to different uses of the eight, we must first consider the power of the red seven as it counts as all suits. Any wishes made against the player with the red seven can always result in you being handed the seven. Conveniently we will usually know if anyone is holding the seven in their hand as they will have been the player who went first so all we need to do is remember if they have played it or not.

If you have the red seven in your hand don’t have a specific reason to play it early, consider holding onto it so you can always pass it should a wish be attempted.

Fishing for Aces

The most obvious way to use the eight is to attempt to force an opponent to give you an ace or another high card. At the most basic level, this involves keeping track of which high cards have been played and asking for one that is still going to be in someone’s hand. Attempting to force an opponent to give you a high card is generally much more effective later in the hand while they are holding fewer cards. Attempting to do this early will likely result in them giving you an unwanted low card.

Additionally you should consider the number of cards in each suit that have been played. For example if you suspect a player may have one of two kings, wish for the one which they are less likely to have lower card of the same suit in their hand.

Counterplay

If you are holding onto a high card such as an ace, attempt to keep a low card of the same suit which you can pass instead of ace. For example if you are leading and your three remaining cards are:

You should lead the green three as if an opponent plays the red eight and wishes a black card from you, you’ll be able to pass them the two instead of the ace. If you led with the two, you would be forced to pass the ace and then likely wouldn’t be able to go out.

Completing bombs

If you are missing single low card to construct a bomb, it can be tempting to wish for it from an opponent. For example, if you have the red, green and blue five, you can choose to wish for a black card from an opponent in the hope they will pass you their black five. This is can work well against inexperienced players but to a skilled skilled opponent can it can be quite obvious this is what you are attempting to do.

Counterplay

If an opponent wishes a card from you out of the blue while you still have a large number of cards in your hand you should be suspicious that they may be hoping you pass them the “obvious” singleton low card in your hand. You should consider passing them a different card that you know won’t complete a bomb for them.

A final card

If someone has only a single card in your hand you can wish this from them, forcing them to go out. Generally you’ll want to do this to help out your partner if you are worried they might have been left with a singleton low card.

You can also do this for against an opponent if their partner has placed a Wodka. Although this will give the opponent a point for going out, your team will get the points for the Wokda failing.

Counterplay

If your partner has placed a Wodka, be sure not to leave yourself on only a single card as this makes your vulnerable to being wished out of the game.

Hoping to miss

There will be some circumstances where you don’t want a card. For example if you play a bomb of eights and have one other card in your hand, you might not want to receive a card which could potentially prevent you from going out. In this scenario recall how many of each card have been played and wish for that suit from a player with few cards left in their hand.

Counterplay

Consider keeping a low card of each suit in your hand so you are always able to pass it to an opponent should they wish something from you.

Asking for a gift from your partner

If you’re not looking for any specific cards from your opponents, you can ask your partner to give you a gift. In this case select a suit that has high cards remaining and they may choose to pass one to you.

Another variant of this to consider is if you and your partner pass each other the same value of card during the passing phase. If your partner has not yet played the card you passed them, wishing for a card of that suit from them should be an indication you want that card back.

Summary

In summary, there are a number of different ways the new eight can be used and you should be considering it even when you don’t have it in your hand. Keep appropriate fodder cards in your hand to prevent being forced to pass a card you don’t want to and when a wish is targeted against you in an unusual situation, consider what the wishing player is looking for so you don’t give them what they want unnecessarily.