Skat is a captivating German trick-taking game that combines skill, strategy, and the tiniest bit of luck. It is traditionally designed for three players, involving both declarer and defenders. The objective of Skat is to earn the most points by successfully fulfilling the declared contract or by preventing the declarer from achieving their goal.
The game is played with a standard deck of 32 cards, consisting of ranks from 7 to Ace in four suits: Acorns, Leaves, Hearts, and Bells in German suits or Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds in French suits. As is common with German trick-taking games, the 10 holds a special rank between the Ace and the King.
To commence a Skat game, determine a dealer that shuffles the deck and deals each ten cards, leaving two cards face down in the center as the Skat.
After examining their hand, the players bid in an auction to determine the declarer. During the auction process, players can increase the game’s value which implies choosing the trump suit and game type, or pass if they don’t wish to compete for the role of declarer.
The auction’s winner becomes the declarer and takes the two Skat cards into their hand. In return, the declarer must discard an equal number of cards, which remain unknown to the other players. The discarded cards can be vital in achieving the declared contract!
The declarer’s primary objective is to fulfill their announced contract. There are various types of contracts in Skat, each with its own level of difficulty and point values. Common contracts include:
- Null: The declarer aims to take no tricks and avoid winning any card points.
- Grand: The declarer seeks to win all tricks, beating every other player.
- Suit: The declarer chooses one of the four suits as the trump and aims to win the majority of card points.
Throughout the game, the two defenders play as a team, attempting to stop the declarer from fulfilling their contract.
If the declarer succeeds, they earn points based on the contract’s value. If the declarer fails, the defenders receive points instead.
Skat’s unique bidding and gameplay mechanics offer a perfect balance of skill, strategy, and psychological warfare. With its roots dating back to the early 19th century, Skat has been captivating card game enthusiasts for generations, making it a true gem of German card gaming. If you can read German, have a look at our Skat School featuring the Skat Manual, Lessons, and more!
If you’re interested in experiencing the thrill of Skat, join us at Skat Palace (Website in German but game available in English), where you can enjoy this fascinating game with friends or challenge players from around the world!