Swiss Troccas

This program will let you play the four-person version of Swiss Troccas. There's a bug in the scoring; if any good javascripter can help I'd be most grateful.

Swiss Troccas

The Tarot deck was designed for games, and when supernatural powers are attributed to them by a card reader, they are merely being used as props for lay counselling.

Troccas is a popular card game in some parts of southern Switzerland. Click here for the rules.

You deal the first hand. Who deals rotates counterclockwise. The dealer receives 21 cards, everyone else 19 cards. Here there is no discussion phase. The dealer places two cards into the kitty. These count toward the dealer's score. The Magician, the Fool, the World, and Kings may not be put in the kitty.

In the play for tricks, the player counter-clockwise from the dealer plays first. The "Major Arcana" are always trumps. Play goes counter-clockwise. Players must follow the suit led if you can, and if a player cannot, a trump must be played if possible. The trick is taken by the player of the highest-numbered trump, or if no trumps are played, by the highest card of the suit led. Top to bottom, staves and swords rank KQNPX98765432A, cups and coins KQNPA12345678X. Winner of the trick leads to the next. However, if you have The Fool you may play it instead of following suit or trumping. If you lead the Fool at the beginning of a trick, the next player can play any card. The second card played to that trick defines the "suit led" for the trick. The Fool remains your property for scoring except as noted below.

If the first trick with a particular suit led is won by a king and the page is not played to the trick, the winner can call "Bob" and takes the page away from the owner, replacing it with a small card from the trick. Here the call is automatic. If the player with the page played the knight or queen, the position of the page is simply revealed. If the winner also has the page, it is replaced in the winner's hand by the highest spot card.

In scoring cards taken in tricks, I followed the usual way counting card points in tarot games. Count 1 point for each trick taken (group of three in the extra cards). Add 4 for each of I, XXI, Kings, and the Fool, 3 for each queen, 2 for each knight, and 1 for each page. At the end, you and your partner add your scores and subtract 36; this is what you win or lose for the hand of this zero-sum game.

Easier                         Harder.
Machine players will not look at other hands.

Check this box to see the card names on mouseover.
Check this box to require playing the Fool if you would need to play a trump but have no other trump.
"Chicks rule" -- queens beat kings and take the pages; decide before first discard to first hand. Queens, not kings, are tarot trumps; queens are worth +4, kings +3. The KQNP sequence stays the same.

More about the cards:

While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
  Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin,
  And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed;
  I was not heard. I saw them not.

        -- Shelley

It seems most reasonable to me to think that the Tarot began as playing cards, for entertainment and games, when sufficiently sturdy paper / pasteboard was invented. The suit cards are like our own playing cards.

The trumps present common interfaith symbols that people from many traditions have found helpful in reflection and meditation.

My own experience has been that this can perhaps improve your life if (and only if) your intention is to stop focusing on life's "small stuff" and prepare you to be kind to those around you.

If there are really any intricate cosmic secrets here, I have been unable to understand them. Call me dumb or unspiritual if you like. When I have actually seen the cards used for divination by practitioners, they were obviously being used as mere props for lay-counselling.

The "Latin" suits may represent the military and government (swords), the clergy (cups), the business folks (coins), and the laborers (staves).

Kings would rank highest, then queens. Chivalric knights were sworn to serve queens, and pages were squires to knights.

In the trump suit, notice how often a card seems naturally to take precedence over the one just below it. No reasonable person would deny that the cards are beautiful and meaningful, or claim that this is just a more complex version of "scissors, paper, stone".

The Magician ("juggler", "mountebank" or "sleight of hand artist") may have been introduced first, as a wild card like our joker for some card games.
The High Priestess was a female pope ("la Papesse"). When it was decided to introduce a second wild card, a female trickster might have been chosen as the magician's counterpart. The legend of "Pope Joan" may have attached itself to the card.

The next three cards may have been introduced together. The Empress would have precedence over the previous two cards, and the four Kings.
The Emperor, of course, is lord over the Empress. The Holy Roman Empire was in existence when the cards were developed.

The Hierophant is probably the Pope, to whom the Emperor owed obedience, at least in theory.
Romantic love has power over every human being. Waite called the first five cards "the captives of Cupid."

War interrupts the lives of Lovers and can take love even out of the human heart. I've been told that the bonds between comrades-in-arms are stronger than between Lovers.
Strength ("fortitude") gives victory over the enemy Chariots. Socrates's four temporal virtues (fortitude, justice, temperance, and perhaps wisdom / judgement) may all be represented in the images.

The Hermit may originally have been Father Time, who wears down all Strength.
The Wheel of Fortune, or the cycle of Luck, operates through all Time and over the years.

Justice, rather than Luck, should determine what happens to a person.
The Hanged Man is a mystery. Perhaps this is an extrajudicial lynching. Perhaps this is a cryptic representation of the One Who fulfilled the demands of the law's Justice by His death.

Everything represented up to now is subject to human mortality.
Temperance, living a wholesome life, gives the best chance of staying healthy and avoiding premature Death.

The devil tempts us to live in ways that are not temperate or otherwise wholesome.
At the destruction of the Tower of Babel, the devil's agents were dramatically defeated. *

The Star shines high above all Towers.
The Moon outshines the Stars.

The Sun outshines the Moon.
At the Last Judgement, the Sun and all rest of creation will disappear.

A card representing a Fool (simpleton) was probably introduced to be playable at any time.
The World contains all the things that can possibly be, and so it is the highest of all cards. Perhaps this is the new World that will follow the Last Judgement.

* If, as in the old decks, the tower is the "House of God", then the Church defeats the devil, and nothing below the heavens can take precedence over the Church.

As a kid, I spent quite a bit of time with Waite's book and the tarot pack. I wondered about his hints that he possessed great secret knowledge. (Re-read his description of the "Hanged Man", look closely at the Ace of Cups, recall that in his own life he professed the Christian faith, and then draw your own conclusions.) Today I appreciate him most as the first person to write systematically about the western occult tradition. At least some of his Golden Dawn fellow-seekers of "secret knowledge" eventually found the Ignatian "Spiritual Exercises" more helpful.

Tarot Game Rules -- links to more complicated games with bidding
Tarot History
Various Tarot Decks
Tarocchino -- downloadable book of tarot games. No-nonsense account of the history of the gaming cards and the bunko artists who made it an "occult mystery." Thanks!
The Castle of Crossed Destinies -- "semiotic fantasy novel"

Francis of Assisi
Christian Tarot Decks
Tarot and Evangelism -- prof at U. of Aberdeen divinity school. Like any evangelist, meeting "New Agers" where they already are.
Tarot of the Saints -- Biblical and historical images, some gnosticizing
Tarot of the Saints -- Amazon
Tarot of the Saints -- Margaret of Rome resists the devil, etc.

VI. The Lovers

Waite's Tarocky
Danish Tarot
French Tarot for Three
French Tarot for Four
German Cego
Hungarian Tarot
Konigrufen -- complicated, casual tarot game
Swiss Troccas
Scarto -- primitive tarot game
Bid Tarot -- primitive tarot game with bidding

Meet Ed