How to Play Napoleon

Napoleon Bidding Options
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

The emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was neither the inventor nor the popularizer of this namesake game (also known as "Nap"), but his name is used for one of the bids. Two of his enemies, Wellington and Blucher, are also bids. Here's how to play:

Number of players: Two to six


Object: To outbid the other player and then to win the number of tricks you've bid for.

The cards: A regular 52-card deck is used. Aces are high.

To play: Dealer deals five cards each in groups of three and then two, or two then three. Starting at dealer's left, each player may make one bid, naming a number of tricks to be won, or pass. The bid does not name desired trump suit, only the number of tricks.

A Misère bid outranks a bid of 3. Napoleon, Wellington, and Blucher are all bids to take all five tricks, but each scores differently. This means that a player who bids Napoleon for five tricks can be outbid by another player bidding Wellington or Blucher (see table below for bidding ranks).

If all pass, throw the hand in. The highest bidder becomes the maker. Maker's opponents work together to try to make the bid fail.

Maker begins by leading a card to the first trick. This card's suit becomes trump, except, of course, if the bid is Misère, which is no trump. You must follow suit when you are able to; otherwise you may trump or discard. A trick is won by the highest trump in it or, if it contains no trump, by the highest card in the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

Scoring: Maker wins or loses points to each opponent. Enter the plus or minus scores after every deal. Be sure the scores always add up to zero.

If as maker you win the number of tricks you bid, score the number of points you bid. Nothing extra is scored for overtricks. If you bid and make Napoleon, Wellington, or Blucher, score 10 points.

The opponents score for defeating maker's bid. If maker doesn't take the number of tricks bid, opponent scores that number. Opponents score 5 for defeating Napoleon, 10 for defeating Wellington, and 20 for defeating Blucher. It's the risk of greater loss that separates the three different bids for all five tricks.

Nap is a fast game to play. The first to reach 30 points is the winner.

©Publications International, Ltd.