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07 Jan 2014

Preferans game review

Preferans is a highly intellectual trick taking card game.

While there are many known variations of Preferans our application supports three most popular flavours. The game is played by 3 players with 32-card traditional deck from sevens to aces. Player scores are kept on a score board called the pool. The game purpose is to maximize your own score leaving the other 2 player scores as low as possible.

A number of sets played during one game depend on the game flavour and the pool limit. At the beginning of a set, players are dealt 10 cards each by the dealer, who changes clockwise in the next set.

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Preferans screenshots

Remaining 2 cards called the talon are put aside face down. The player sitting next to the dealer and called the first hand starts bidding by choosing one of 3 options: play, misere or pass. His choice is based on the cards in his hand.

Choosing pass excludes the player from further bidding rounds. If all 3 players chose pass a dedicated all-pass game is played where the purpose is to take as few tricks as possible. Choosing play means the commitment to take at least 6 tricks with given trump suit out of 10 possible tricks.

The bid can usually be raised by the next bidding player. Choosing misere implies that the bidding player commits to taking no tricks at all. Misere can be declared only in the first bidding round and outbid by other player committing to take at least 9 tricks.

In both cases the player with the highest bid receives talon cards face up, which makes them visible to the other players. After that he drops 2 arbitrary cards from his hand. Then in case of play the player declares how many tricks he is going to take and the trump suit.

The contract must be equal or higher than the winning bid. The defending players' objective is to prevent the declarer from fulfilling the contract. They are given such an opportunity by choosing whist after the contract is declared.

Alternatively, if they choose pass the contract is automatically considered fulfilled. Choosing misere when bidding does not require the consequent declaration and the defending players must try to prevent the declarer from taking 0 tricks.

Trick taking rules are similar to play, misere and all-pass set types. First round is started by the first hand, in each next round the first card is played by the player who has won the trick in the previous round.

The second and third players must put a card with the same suit, trump suit or any other card. Each next option means the player does not have appropriate cards for the previous one. When the first round of play is on, the defending players may decide they want to open cards in their hands.

In all-pass and misere sets there is no trump suit. Also in all-pass game the first two rounds are started by opening the talon card which sets the trick suit. In both these rounds the first hand moves first and puts a card according to the trick suit.

The third round is also started by the first hand with an arbitrary card no matter who won the trick. The score board is updated after each set. The pool limit is shown in the center. For each player the score consists of 3 areas: pool, mountain and whists.

The pool contains points received for fulfilling contracts or taking no tricks in all-pass sets. The mountain is used for penalties on failing contracts, tricks taken in all-pass games and bad defence. Whists are scored on successful defence.

Each player keeps whist records on each of his opponents. After each set the changes in player scores are highlighted in blue. Total estimates are available at any time through the game and are shown above the mountains.

Final scores are calculated when the game ends. Differences between the game flavours come from different locations the game was originally played in and expressed mostly in a slightly different scoring. "Rostov" game flavour additionally forbids opening talon cards in all-pass set.

Preferans proliferation has created many additional small rules, which usually require an agreement between players before starting a game. Therefore, we employ the powerful preference system allowing fine tuning of most of the game conventions ever known.

The application supports player profiles. Each profile may define its own game flavour and conventions. User scores are sent to a server and there is a leader board showing the top 10 best scores in each game configuration.

Game UI is designed to be as simple and as intuitive as possible. To play a card one just needs to drag it towards the centre of the table. To drop 2 cards after winning the bidding rounds just touch them and press the "Drop" button.

There is a possibility to end game set early by offering the expected outcome as well as the option to automatically make obvious moves or even to completely skip sets in which the human player passes.

Tens of thousands of people have enjoyed this game so far. It keeps receiving wonderful reviews on Google Play. It is free and definitely worth trying. We believe that once you get the rules, the game definitely becomes more addictive than poker and hope you will enjoy playing it!

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Download Preferans from Android market