Ambition

Ambition. A game by Michael O. Church (https://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S7lsZKzHuuhoTb2Wj_L3zrhHZh5IEKBDf56ExgErv4o/edit

 

2. How to start

Ambition requires 4 players, a single deck of playing cards, pen and paper to keep score, and poker chips sufficient to count 121 points (one way to do this is to have 16 white chips representing 1 point each, 5 red chips representing 5 points each, and 8 blue chips representing 10).

A game of Ambition takes about 75 minutes.

3. The deck

The ace, king, queen, and jack of each suit are called honors while the numbered cards are called spots. The rank order is 2(high)-A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2(low), with the 2 being high in a trick to which an honor in the led suit is played, and low otherwise.

Ambition does not have a trump suit, so each trick is won by the highest card in the suit led.

4. Game structure

Like most trick-taking games, Ambition is played as a succession of rounds, with scores accumulating as rounds are completed. Each round has the following structure:

  1. Dealing: each player is dealt a hand of 13 cards.
  2. Passing: players exchange 3 cards with one another.
  3. Tricks: tricks are played until all hands are exhausted (13 tricks).
  4. Scoring: player’s scores are assessed for the round.

5. Dealing and passing.

The deck is shuffled and each player is dealt 13 cards. A 3-card pass occurs among the players, with the passing structure dictated by a “round type” rotation that repeats every 4 rounds: Left, Right, Across, Scatter. In a “Left” round, each player passes 3 cards to the player on the left (and receive 3 from the right). In a “Right” round, they pass to the right. In an “Across” round, they pass to the opponent opposite them. In a “Scatter” round, each player passes 1 card to each of the three others. No player may look at the cards passed to her until she has completed her pass.

6. Tricks

Ambition follows these typical trick-taking game conventions:

  • the winner of each trick will lead (play first) to the next.

  • tricks are played in a consistent (usually clockwise) order.

  • each player plays exactly one card to the trick.

  • players able to follow suit (that is, play a card in the led suit) must do so. Failure to do so (revoke) when able invalidates the round. A player unable to follow suit may play out of suit.

However, there are some rules specific to Ambition.  

  • Ambition has no trump suit. (Thus, the winning card is always the highest card in the suit led.)

  • In the led suit, the Two (2) wins any trick to which an honor in the led suit is played (but is low otherwise).

Each card has a point value (see below) and when a player wins a trick, she totals up the point value of it (see below) and announces it. She then moves that number of poker chips from the center into a space that signifies her taking the points.

The person holding the 3♦ leads to the first trick and must lead in diamonds, but is not required to lead that card.

7. The point values

The values of the cards are as follows:

  • 18 points for the K and 0 points for other clubs.

  • 6 points for honor spades, and 2 points for spot spades.

  • 10 points for the 2, 3 points for honor hearts, and 1 point for other spot hearts.

  • 3 points for honor diamonds, and 1 point for spot diamonds.

  • 10 points associated with the first trick, in addition to the points on the cards.

The total number of points in a given round is 121.

8. Scoring and objectives

At the end of each round, the points taken (in tricks) are totaled up and compared, and converted into points scored (good) and strikes (bad).

  • Players taking0 points get Nil. Nil scores 30 points, but only 15 if two players achieve it in that round. (See section 10 for an optional “Blind Nil” rule.)

    • However, Nil scores 0 points and a strike if there is a Slam and no understrike (see below) or if there are 3 Nils (e.g. Grand Slam).

  • A player taking 1 to 15 points scores points taken and 1 strike (“understrike”).

  • Players with 16 points or more, but not the most of the 4 players, score points taken.

  • A player taking the most, but less than 75, points scores 0 points and a strike (“overstrike”).

  • A player with 75 points or more achieves Slam, which is worth at least 50 points.

Slam scoring: Slam is scored as follows.

Pts. taken

Name

Pts. scored

Pts. scored range

75 to 104

Slam

50, plus 1 for each pt. taken over 75.

50 to 79

105 to 120

Major Slam

80, plus 2 for each pt. taken over 105.

80 to 110

121

Grand Slam

121

121

Rare corner case: if all four players strike in a round (e.g. 39-39-39-4) then the person who took the last trick gets 16 points, and the others get 0 points and a strike.

Pardon: A player achieving Slam may, if not in the lead for points scored after the Slam, elect to “pardon” players assessed strikes, in which case no strikes are given. She must pardon all or no eligible players.

9. Game-ending condition

At the end of a round, if any player has 4 strikes, the game is over. The winner is the player, among those who do not have 4 strikes, with the largest number of points.

Note: The game-ending condition explains why a Slamming player might wish to use the “pardon” rule: strikes speed up the “game clock” and this rule prevents the situation where a player, substantially out of the lead, achieves Slam and thereby assigns a game-ending strike to another player, losing the game. Slam is the best possible round outcome, so no one should ever lose on account of achieving it.

10. Advanced, Experimental: Blind Nil

Blind Nil is an optional rule that should only be used when players are familiar with the basic game.

This rule allows a Nil hand to be played with more risk: 50 points can be earned for a bid Nil. (When Blind Nil is used, regular un-bid Nil should only receive 25 points, instead of 30.)

Blind Nil is a bid (or “contract”) to take no points while playing “blind”. When there is a blind player, the player leading to a trick announces the suit that will be led, but does not play the first card, until the blind player chooses (and sets aside, face down) a card to play to the trick. (In other words, he must choose before knowing what others will play.)

Blind Nil can only be bid between the first and second tricks, and only by the person who played the lowest diamond to the first. This player will continue to play blind unless he takes points, in which case the bid is failed and he no longer plays blind. A player may also choose, at any time, to “unblind” and stop playing blind, but doing so automatically fails the bid.

A player who bids Blind Nil and achieves it, if there is no Slam, gets 25 additional points (for a total of 50, or 40 in the infamous “double Nil” situation).

However, a player who bids Blind Nil and fails it can score only one-half, rounded down, of points taken. (Exception: if this player Slams, scores are unaffected.) If the final (i.e. halved) score is below 15 points, then an understrike is also assessed. Finally, a player who voluntarily fails Blind Nil and takes 0 points is not considered to have achieved Nil, but gets an understrike and 0 points.

  • Example 1: Tom fails Blind Nil, taking 19 points. He scores 9 and understrikes.
  • Example 2: Mary fails Blind Nil, but takes 34 points and does not overstrike. She scores 17 and no strike.
  • Example 3: Sam fails Blind Nil, takes 40 points and the most of all four players. He scores 0 and an overstrike (his outcome is not affected by the failed Blind Nil.)
  • Example 4: Mary failed Blind Nil by voluntarily “unblinding”. She took 0 points. However, she scores 0 and an understrike.

A player who fails Blind Nil twice in a game can no longer make that bid.

Ambition Cheat Sheet

I. Point Values.

 

A

K

Q

J

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

3

3

3

3

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

6

6

6

6

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

3

3

3

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

10

0

18

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

10 points are added to the first trick, making a total of 121 in a round.

II. Resolving tricks.You must always follow suit if able.

There is no trump, so the highest in the led suit wins, and the Two (2) becomes high (and wins) if there’s an honor (A, K, Q, J) of the led suit in the trick.

 

Trick #

Lead

Follow

Winner

Points

Explanation

1

8♦

Q♦ 5♦ A♦

A♦

18

1 + 3 + 1 + 3 + 10 (first trick).

2

7♣

2♣ 10♣ 5♣

10♣

0

2 low by default.

3

3♥

8♥ 2♥ J♥

2♥

15

2 high in presence of honor (J♥).

4

9♠

K♣ 2♠ A♥

9♠

25

off-suit honors don’t trigger 2.

 

III. Scoring. 3 ways to do well: take 0 points (Nil), take a lot (Slam) be in the middle (Default).

  • 0 points: Nil. Score 30 points if singular, 15 each if two players get Nil (but see Slam).
  • 1 to 14 points: Understrike. Score points taken plus 1 strike.
  • 15 to 60 points, not most: Default. Score points taken.
  • 31 to 74 points, most of all 4 players: Overstrike. Score 0 points and 1 strike.
  • 75 to 121 (all) points: Slam. Score 50+ points.

If Slam occurs and there is no Understrike, then all Nil players in that round understrike (0/X).