@booogerbrain Cribbage is my favorite card game, but given the parameters of the question, I am not sure I could play it. I might be able to manage without a pegboard, but without at least a pen and paper, I am not sure I could keep up with score.
There’s a great card game I recommend for two players, but is complicated to learn.
If stuck with only two people wanting to play cards, and being over the age of enjoying “War”, you have few choices.
One is two-handed Spades, which is not too bad a game.
Cribbage was mentioned above.
Another one, which I highly recommend, is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaberjass, which a college roommate and I lifted directly from a Hoyle’s rule book. We played it with the “schmeiss” option, which adds additional strategy to the game.
Warning, this game is complicated to learn, including the three different hierarchies of the cards, but plays incredibly fast for each deal. A full game can take as little as 20 minutes to a half hour (depending on what point total you set as goal – I think we used to do 200 or 250). It offers a chance to use a lot of strategy and a lot of “card sense”. If you pay attention, you will know a lot about which cards are in actual play each hand, though the tricks are made up of only 18 of the 32 possible cards (7 through ace in each suit). Plus you have seen the other two over-turned cards. Luck of the shuffle and deal does play a part, but players with good strategy and understanding of the game can consistently win against a lesser opponent.
(Another wrinkle is that all the important terms are German words. Well, the game is of German origin…)
The Wiki article explains it pretty well for the most part. To clarify the rules we went by, dealer (A) shuffles and other player (B) has option to cut the deck. A then deals three cards to B, three to himself, then repeats this. Then A turns face up the next card (the 13th). B has the option of choosing the suit of the 13th as the trump suit and he has to “make” the deal (i.e., take more points than his opponent). If B does not so choose, he “passes”; then A gets that same option to be maker with that trump or to pass. If both pass, then B has the option to be maker and choose trump suit (another or the same as the original suit – he might do the original if he was just “feeling out” his opponent to see if he had strength in that suit and might possibly get set on making the points needed, which can be disastrous to one’s score). If B passes here, then A gets the option for naming the trump suit and being maker. If both pass, the cards are thrown in and same dealer reshuffles and it all happens again. This “bidding” process usually takes just a few seconds with experienced players.
What has been happening in all this is that both players have been sizing up their own hand and their opponent’s possible hand, especially keeping the trump in mind. Again, making your hand with enough points is good, but getting set is not just bad but very bad, point-wise. So you don’t want your opponent to pick trump and make it, but you REALLY don’t want to be maker and get set.
If a maker and trump suit has been settled (not both players passing twice), then the dealer deals three more cards to B, then three more to himself, so each will now have nine to play on tricks (and there will be nine tricks). At this point, they will give each other enough information to determine if anyone gets “meld” points, but the minimum possible information to establish that, B first. (See Wikipedia on meld.) After that is established, B would lead for first trick. Winner of each trick leads to next. Be sure to understand that player following lead must follow suit and MUST play to take the trick if he can, trumping if unable to follow non-trump suit, over-trumping if following a trump lead.
Good time to discuss the “schmeiss” option , if allowed. (Best to ignore it when both players are first learning the game.) It is maybe a strategic choice, maybe a plain old bluff. Either player can call it when it’s one of their turns to settle trump & be maker. It is an offer to abandon the hand. if accepted by the other player, the hand is thrown in, and the dealer changes.(Dealer does NOT change on a round of all passing. And non-dealer has an advantage in having first choice of being maker.) If the schmeiss is refused, the person offering it MUST be maker in the suit of the 13th card. The call of “schmeiss” works best for a person who has middling strength in the potential trump, when the opponent is weak in that suit but might be strong in another suit that they could call and wrack up lots of points.
One final note. The marriage or “bela” must be declared on play to be counted. If the maker realizes that they will probably be set, it is best to not call it, lest the opponent get the additional 20 points.
Anyone interested enough to try this game out, and having questions on the rules or strategy, can post a reply here and I will do my best to answer. But, I have not played this game in maybe fifteen or twenty years (or much of any other card games, for that matter), so I might show my rustiness.
@phendrick [I tried to edit, but missed my window.]
After players have been dealt the total of 18 cards, and before meld declaration or trick play, the dealer turns face-up another card from the deck, the twentieth. So of the 32 cards in the playable deck, only 12 are unknown to either player (possibly 3 in each suit). Because of the rule of having to win each trick if possible, players can form strong likelihoods of what cards are among the 12 and hence which cards the other guy has.
@phendrick We played something that sounds similar, back in college, called Back Alley Bridge. There was a set point total as a goal, trump suites, bidding etc. It could be played 2 handed, but if played 3 or 4 handed it required a second deck of cards. Haven’t played it in mumble mumble years, so mostly all I remember we played it for hours at a time.
That game doesn’t sound familiar. Also, in my experience, Klaberjass was always a two-person game. Of course, every game seems to have an infinite # of variations.
I could have saved myself a lot of typing in my long exposition above, if I had googled first. Since then, I found THIS which is a very good video introduction to the game. It mostly matches my description with a few exceptions (notably, game to 500 [which I guess is what we actually did now that I saw some of the sample scoring] and not being able to pick the original suit for trump in the second round of bidding [which rule we did not have, but it does make more sense, else the first bidder could just be trying to set up the dealer for a fail]. The video also does a very good job in explaining the scoring – part of the learning curve is that points can be accumulated pre-tricks through the meld, mid-tricks by bella, end of tricks by taking last trick, and post-tricks by counting points in tricks taken. Also the fact that there are 3 hierarchies of card sequence: normal “poker order” for meld, ten the second highest card in non-trump suit, jack and nine above ace and ten in trump suit.
It’s still a recommendation from me for anyone liking two-handed card games. (Also, in “friendly” games, I’ve seen semi-serious players play for a penny a point for differences in the final scores of each player, to “make it interesting”, as an alternative to nickle-dime poker.)
skip-bo would be my first choice for a card game, but it seems we only have standard playing cards. so i picked gin rummy because i used to love playing that with my grampa when i was a kid. but i don’t remember how anymore, don’t even have the first clue really, so we’d have to learn how to play again first. and if we’re going to be re-learning card games, i also loved playing SPIT! with my friends so, i might pick that instead. a bit more fast paced. we’ve got options, anyhow.
Cribbage if i have any say. i have probably 4-5 boards, but my family won’t play with me… it was the game i grew up playing during stays at our cabin in the Yukon Territory. 50 miles from nearest town, 30 miles from nearest truck stop, no electricity (or running water until about 6 years in) - in the land of the Midnight Sun, we’d play most of the night during the summers.
@inanna@davea510@DrWorm@phendrick@Goofmont I grew up playing cribbage at my maternal grandparents house. Grew up-ish, joined the Navy, volunteered for Submarine duty and what do you know! Cribbage is almost required for Submarine Qualifications. I found a small “29” board that was pocket sized and passed it on when I left the boat. As an adult at family gatherings I realized we could do away with the score sheet for long periods of time as the participants were not really interested in the score, we were interested in the fun, the conversation, the community etc. What we would do was swap people in and out as the players wanted and everyone had a great time. Everyone but my very competitive step-dad. He was miserable because he couldn’t win or beat another player or team. We all just told him to get over it or stop playing. Anyway, long-winded stories about my cribbage background.
@booogerbrain@davea510@DrWorm@Goofmont@inanna Pre-teen and later, whenever we would visit my mother’s family in the NEast, I played cards with a bachelor uncle who was a WW2 disabled vet. He had been wounded aboard ship by an enemy bombing run. It left him with a metal plate in his head. Most of the time he was one of the nicest, gentlest, and smartest guys you could meet. He could also be very quirky with some of the friends he had. But sometimes he would be very moody. He might go into unpredictable, cursing rages. He could be set off without warning. He taught me card games, mainly Cribbage and Casino. Most of the time he won. But I liked to win and he hated to lose, so I had to be wary of playing too well, or things might end badly. Mostly the matches were enjoyable, but not always.
I did like both games, but haven’t played either in probably 30 years or more.