Tromplemond is a fun card game of bluff, charisma, mathematics and intense skill – for all the family. It is vaguely derived from a not so famous daytime television program. The game is for four players and the aim is to score as many points as possible in 8 rounds of play.
The deck is made by discarding the 5,6,7,8,9s of all suits and the K,Q,10,4,3,2s of ♣, thereby creating a deck of 26 cards.(At some stage, official tromplemond cards will be made so normal playing cards are not worn out!) A scorecard is needed with each players name at the top and the eight rounds to play written on the left margin. Each player receives three voting slips, with each of their opponent’s names written on them.
The Js and Aces are set aside and the remaining cards are shuffled by the dealer. Six cards are discarded, and the Js and Aces are integrated back into the deck. These 20 cards are therefore used for this round. Five cards are dealt to each player, the first three face down (the “secret” cards or “back row”) and the last two face up (the “public” cards).
The players take it in turn to say what their secret cards are – the dealer always going first. Their aim is to convince the others that they hold the best possible hand in the round to avoid being voted off in section 2. Each player’s action can depend on the public cards shown – weak public cards draw more suspicion to a player than strong public cards. The points system should be visible to all players to help them with their decisions:
A: 10pts, K: 8pts, Q: 6pts, 10: 4pts, 4,3,2: 2pts
Jack: 0 pts (-20pts)
Players who are not voted off gain the full points of their own hand, and half of their opponent’s points. The four jacks are the most important cards in the game, to the holder they are worth no points – but to other players they are worth -20pts. So it is in everyone’s best interests to vote off the player with the most jacks.
After players say what secret cards they hold, they have a few moments to interrogate each other. This can last as long as five minutes, during which players can ask each other about various disputed cards. Players can be asked to repeat their cards no more than twice more in a round. Some players may be able to work out what cards can be left in open play and lie accordingly. The six discarded cards in the “setup” mean that some people will be able to bluff cards not held by others – others may not be so lucky. After the interrogation, players vote off who they think has the worst hand. This unlucky soul receives zero points for the round and their hand is thrown away. The vote should always remain anonymous, voting slips should be dropped in the centre of the table simultaneously or folded up. It should be mentioned that on occasion it is in fact a very good policy to try and get voted off, if you hold no jacks and your points cards are particularly poor. See the “tactics” section for more information.
If there is a draw in the vote between two players, the other two must decide privately who they should vote off. If there is a four way tie, players must vote again until a decision is made. At no time can any player reveal their secret cards before the vote has been confirmed. See the “other rules” section for more information on illegal actions.
After the vote has finished, players reveal their secret cards and find out the truth. They receive full points for their own hand and half points for the other two hands. Jacks held by other players are still worth the full -20 points.
The most competent person does the scoring and once everyone is happy that their totals are right, the player to the left of the dealer deals next. The player voted out also rejoins play without penalty. Play continues until all 8 rounds are complete, or a player reaches 200 points.
A new game starts and Rob is the dealer. After correctly setting up the deck of 26, he separates the Js and Aces, shuffles, discards 6 cards, integrates the Js and Aces, shuffles and deals.
The game board then looks like this:
Rob: K♥ 10♠ S S S
Sam: A♣ 2♦ S S S
Nick: J♥ A♦ S S S
Emily: 2♠ 3♥ S S S
The players say what cards they have, keeping in mind what is laid out on the table.
Rob claims the Q♥ Q♦ K♠
Sam claims the 10♦ 4♠ K♦
Nick claims the A♥ A♠ 10♦
Emily claims the K♥ A♥ 4♦
During the interrogation round, Nick immediately says that Emily must be lying about her king, as it is already on public display! This raises suspicions of her having Nick’s Ace, which they both claim. Rob tends to think Emily is lying also, and asks her to come clean about the card she lied about. Sam rallies around her and says that Nick already has one jack on show and is more likely to have another one which he is lying about. Emily breaks down and cries that Nick is bullying her over the disputed Ace. She comes clean about having the jack of clubs, but on the basis that she has the ace and Nick must therefore have two jacks. Rob wonders out loud where the fourth jack must be…
The players then vote anonymously and the results are clear: 2 votes for Emily, one vote for Nick and one vote for Sam. Emily reveals her cards and smugly points out that even though she had one jack, she had the disputed ace all along which meant Nick was a liar. Rob and Sam smack their heads with disbelief and annoyance. The remaining three then reveal their true hands…
Rob: K♥ 10♠ Q♥ J♦ K♠
Sam: A♣ 2♦ 10♦ 4♠ K♦
Nick: J♥ A♦ J♠ A♠ 10♦
Rob lied about his queen and had a jack all along – attention had been on Nick and Emily leaving him in a strong position. Sam was telling the truth. Nick was a dirty liar!
The points are then totted up as follows:
Rob gets (8+4+6+0+8) + half of Sam and Nick’s scores (5+1+2+1+4) + (5+5+2) minus Nick’s jacks (-40) = 26+13+12-40 = 11pts
Sam gets (10+2+4+2+8) + (5+5+2) + (4+2+3+4) – (60)= 26+12+13-60 = -9pts
Nick gets (10+10+4) + (5+1+2+1+4) + (4+2+3+4) – 20 = 24+13+13-20 = 30 pts
Emily gets 0 pts.
Nick wins round, and Emily didn’t too badly getting voted off as Sam is behind her on minus points.
The deal then goes to Sam and the game continues for 8 rounds or until a player scores 200 points.
The cardinal sin of tromplemond is revealing your cards before a vote has taken place, or before a tied vote has been decided. The penalty for such an action depends on the outcome of what would have happened. If a vote has not taken place yet, the offending player automatically scores zero for the round and all the other players score points normally without penalty. If a player is found to have shown their cards on purpose, say their hand is extremely poor they would be playing against the spirit of the game and banned for eternity. If a player shows their hand by accident, and it would have led to a player being voted off with three or more jacks who would have not been voted off otherwise, the game is null and void.
If players cannot decide on who should be voted off (ie, a 4 way tie) a card cut, with Ace being high should take place to decide. A 2 way tie is decided by the two others privately choosing the player to be voted off. They must not reveal their cards, but can decide to tell the truth or lie some more about their own cards.
If two or more players have the same score at the end of 8 rounds, an extra round is then played. It is interesting to note that a player in last place could then go on to win in this extra round. If in the unlikely event that a tie still takes place, or if time is an issue, a simple card cut should suffice.
If the dealer makes an error before completing the deal, he forfeits the round (unless no public cards have been handed out yet). Beginners can be let off and asked to deal again, or correct their error if it does not change play too much.
Although Tromplemond is not really a betting game, money can exchange hands. At the start of play, players agree a “joining fee” which is then placed in the centre of the table. The winner would receive ¾ of the pot and the runner up ¼. (These ratios can be changed according to players’ whims.)
TROMP!Betting is a slightly more exciting variant on the game, best reserved for players who know the lingo reasonably well. The “joining fee” is paid as usual, but before each round a separate pot of smaller amounts is created and grown through each round of play. A player wins a certain amount of this “TROMP!” pot depending on his winning hand in that round (he must not be voted off). He must also shout out the correct phrase to win!
Petit Tromplemond!: Any jack in your hand. Wins absolutely no money.
Moyenne Tromplemond!: Jack on the back row, one on show. Wins a quarter of the TROMP! Pot for that round, i.e their money back.
Tromplemond!: Two jacks on the back row, none on show. Wins half the TROMP! Pot for that round.
Grand Tromplemond!: Two jacks on back row, one on show. Wins the whole TROMP! Pot for that round.
Super Tromplemond!: Three jacks on back row, none on show. Wins the whole TROMP! Pot for that round, and a quarter of the remaining TROMP! Pot at the end of the game.
Ultimate Tromplemond!: Three jacks on back row, one on show. Wins the whole TROMP! Pot for that round, and the remaining Tromp! pot at the end of the game. Players may choose to give this guy a drink as he has beaten them very badly.
Kickself Tromplemond!: Any player who goes through with two jacks on front row. Wins half of the TROMP! Pot for that round – and a pat on the back from every player.
Extreme Tromplemond!: Two jacks on back row, two on show. The player wins the entire TROMP! Pot for the rest of the game, and the whole “joining fee” regardless of result – mainly down to the stupidity of the other players.
Any TROMP! Pot money remaining at the end of the game is given to the player with the best individual score for a round.
ADVANCED TROMPLEMOND TACTICS
The simple premise of Tromplemond is to gain more points than anyone else over the course of 8 rounds, and to avoid being voted off if holding jacks. However, there are many tactics to utilize during the game – some of which are not entirely obvious at first but vital if one is to become a successful Tromplemond player.
Know your Enemy
As you pick up your “secret” cards, try and watch other people’s reactions when they see theirs. Look for patterns when people pick up their cards, do they put them back down instantly or continue to stare at one in particular as it comes to their turn to speak? If a player stumbles over what cards they say they have, it does not always mean they are lying. Generally, people who stumble over a suit, rather than a face card are probably lying. If a player is looking at the public cards too much prior to speaking, are they trying to work out which cards have already been shown, as to lie better?
The Mackle Bluff
“Pretending to have jacks in order to be voted off and thus avoid someone with lots of jacks penalizing you”
The Mackle bluff is something to be on the look out for always, and is what makes the game completely mind boggling most of the time. As stated previously, getting voted off can be the most prudent course of action in some cases. For example, if a player holds no jacks and has none on show, he has no chance of subtracting points off other players’ scores and is giving them lots of his own. Further to that, the player with no jacks is likely to be docked lots of points by other players’ jacks still in play. Say one had a queen and a ten on show, and only numbered cards on the back row. In many cases, two jacks will remain in play after voting, which is a whopping -40pts to be deducted from a 16pt hand. Even with half of other players points, this player is probably onto a loser. Therefore, his best course of action would be to admit to a jack, and possibly stumble over another card. This causes doubt in others, and anyone with jacks will vote you off (to keep them in). If done correctly, a Mackle bluff, although landing you with no points, can mean everyone else takes a minus score through to the next round.
An offshoot of the Mackle Bluff, the reversal only works with no jacks on show, and more than one in the secret cards. The player readily admits to having two jacks and stumbles over his words. Others may believe that he is trying the “Mackle Bluff” and is trying to get voted off. Of course, the player is in fact “reversing” attention away from himself and onto others.
“A bluff which appears to serve no purpose but to confuse the opponents”
This is a far trickier bluff to pull off than meets the eye. When a player is one of the last people to say their secret cards, they on purposely say cards which other people have claimed, or are already on show. This confuses your opponents as they have no idea what cards you hold, and raises doubts on other players’ hands. It is a dangerous tactic as you are more liable to be voted off if you have a jack on the front row and are lying about all your secret cards. However, if you are accused of a Mackle bluff instead opponents are confused further – keep you in and get your points, or keep you in and actually lose out on the three jacks you weren’t actually lying about all along. Phew!!!
Jack a BOO!
Pretty sure your opponents are filthy liars? The “Jack a Boo” tactic is a way of outing jacks in other people’s hands, especially if there are already two jacks on show around the table. The idea is this, you declare two cards truthfully but lie about having a missing jack of a certain suit. Whoever actually has the jack may give away telltale signs like looking especially confused (why have you claimed MY jack?!) or even accidentally spilling out “you can’t have that jack, I do! Oh, damn!” Players who are quick to put the knife in are likely to have your “jack”. Inform other players of your trick and they will gladly vote off the jack assassin. Of course, you could have the jack all along and use this as an excuse…
In general, three players are usually in contention for a win at the end of a game of Tromplemond (although experienced players tend to have very close, low scoring games). The important thing to remember in the final round is that if you are behind, you need to have jacks to take points off the leader and win. If you have no jacks, you need to be voted off yourself and hope the others take him out. Endgame play is a headache.
THE IMPOSSIBLE HAND?
Almost all hands in Tromplemond are playable, with the exception of one. Having two jacks dealt publically is not only very unlucky, but almost certain to get you voted off. The only way of convincing others to foolishly let you stay is to show someone else also has two jacks, and worse scoring cards. Most of the time this is impossible and you will be instantly voted off. However, if another player also has one jack on show you have a chance. It helps to actually have a good back row, with aces usually. If the player you are against actually has two jacks, the other players will know it (having none themselves) or accuse you of having a third. Stand your ground, and argue that your cards – though penalizing them 40 points, can bring some points back. If you have another jack, all the better. It is probably impossible to stay in if no other jacks are on show, regardless of what you say. Unless you offer “bribes”, which of course is illegal and would have you banned for eternity.
If you want to play and need to know more email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for the history of Tromplemond! And its future!
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Thank you! Give this game a try… it will change your life… or be the death of you!
All rules, the name TROMPLEMOND! And the tactic names are copyright of Robert C Mackle. One day trademarked, who knows.
© 2008 Robert C Mackle