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Wizard - card game

Wizard is a trick-taking card game for three to six players designed by Ken Fisher of Toronto, Ontario in 1984. The game was first printed commercially in June 1986.

A Wizard deck consists of 60 cards: a regular set of 52 playing cards (replaced with custom symbols and colours in some editions), 4 Wizards and 4 Jesters. The Jesters have the lowest value, then the one up to thirteen, with Wizards highest in value. The game is licensed in Canada, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan. It is derived from Oh Hell and bears some resemblance to it.


The object of the game is to bid correctly on the number of tricks that a player will take in the subsequent round of play. Points are awarded for a correct bid and subtracted for an incorrect bid. The player with most points after all rounds have been played is the winner. The game is played in a number of rounds from 10 to 20, depending on the number of players and each round consists of three stages: Dealing, Bidding, and Playing.

In the first round every player gets one card. In the subsequent rounds the number of cards is increased by one until all cards are distributed. That means that three players play 20 rounds, four players 15 rounds, five players 12 rounds and six players 10 rounds. The top card of the remaining cards is turned over to determine the trump suit. If there are no cards left or a jester is turned there is no trump suit only the wizards are trump. If a wizard is turned the dealer picks a trump suit.

After looking at their cards, starting with the player to the dealer's left, each player states how many tricks he believes he will take, from zero to the number of cards dealt. This is recorded on a score pad.

The player to the left of the dealer plays a card and then the others follow clockwise. If a card other than a wizard or jester is played the players have to follow suit, but it is possible to play a jester or wizard although the player has the desired suit. If a suit is played but then a Wizard is played, the next players must follow the card initially played if they have that suit. The Wizard beats all other cards but the first one in a trick beats all others. The jester is beaten by all others, but if all cards in a trick are jesters the first one beats the others. If a jester is played as the first card the first suit card decides which suit has to be followed. If a wizard is played as the first card every player is free to play what they want regardless of the others.

At the end of each round, each player is given a score based on his performance. For predicting the number of tricks taken correctly, a player receives 20 points plus 10 points for each trick taken. For predicting the number of tricks taken incorrectly, a player loses 10 points for each trick over or under.

Optional Rules

This rule can make the game more challenging, and by nature, forces someone to "lose" each hand, to keep the game interesting and force players to play out of their comfort zone.


Variant card sets

The German version of Wizard has a different design, with a fantasy-themed character on each card. Each character has a title such as der Krieger (the warrior) or die Priesterin (the priestess) printed at the top of the card. There are 2 male and 2 female versions of each character. The German decks contain four non-standard suits with values from 1 to 13, four Z cards labelled either der Zauberer (the sorcerer) or die Zauberin (the sorceress), and four N cards labelled der Narr or die Närrin (the fool). The German deck is distributed in the United States as "Fantasy Wizard", with an English box and rules. The cards are identical to the German ones, including the German abbreviations for Zauberer/Zauberin and Narr/Närrin.

The Medieval deck of cards has a themed character on each card. The characters are: (2) Hermit, (3) Peasant, (4) Farmer, (5) Archer, (6) Blacksmith, (7) Merchant, (8) Bard, (9) Scholar, (10) Bishop, Knight, Queen, King, (Ace) Dragon. The cards are also color-coded: Hearts(Red), Spades (Black), Clubs (Green), Diamonds (Purple), Jesters Brown), Wizards (Blue).

Tournament play

Regular tournaments are held online. World Championships began in 2010. Each nation is invited to send a maximum of 2 representatives to the annual event. The World Championship locations to date are: 2010: Frankfurt, Germany, 2011: Budapest, Hungary, 2012: Vienna, Austria, 2013: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2014: Athens, Greece.

First hand probabilities

Since there are no options for which card to play when a player is only holding one card, there is a statistically correct bid for any given card. This only truly applies if a player has the lead, and thus no information from other bids. Since a correct bid of 1 yields 30 points, and a correct bid of 0 only yields 20, a bid of 1 over time yields more points as long as the player has at least a 42.86% chance of winning the trick.

The known cards are only a player's own card and the turn up, so with 58 unknowns, the odds that a hand will win in a three player game are calculated by the odds that both of the other hands lose to that player. That is, (x/58)*((x-1)/57), x=# of cards the player can beat. The calculation is similar for more players. Solving for x to yield 0.4286 or greater gives the minimum number of cards a player needs to be ahead of to justify a bid of 1.

With the lead: