OBJECTIVE OF BAUER: Be the first team to reduce your score from 8 points to zero points
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 players, teams of two
NUMBER OF CARDS: 32 card pack, 7 – Ace
RANK OF CARDS: 7 (low) – A (high), Trump suit 7 (low) – Jack (high)
TYPE OF GAME: Team based trick taking
INTRODUCTION OF BAUER
Little is noted online about the game of Bauer, but it is known to be played in Saarland, Germany, and it is an alternative to the card game Juckerspiel. This places it in the same family of games as Euchre.
Playing similarly to Euchre, Bauer is a team based trick taking game that is played with a thirty two card deck. A trump suit is determined, and players are trying to take the most tricks each hand. What makes Bauer unique is the scoring system.
Rather than trying to earn points each hand, teams will start with 8 points and take a point away for winning the most tricks. The first team to reach zero wins.
THE CARDS & THE DEAL
Bauer uses a thirty two card deck ranging from 7 (low) up through ace (high). Players will form teams of two with teammates sitting across from each other at the table.
The dealer shuffles up the deck and deals one card at a time to each player. Players will have eight cards in hand at the end of the deal.
Now that the cards have been dealt, it is time to determine trump.
After the cards have been dealt the trump phase can begin. Beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, each player will get a chance to determine the trump suit. A player may look at their cards and choose a trump suit or say pass. Once a player determines trump, the trump phase immediately ends and the game begins. The team that determines trump must take the most amount of tricks in order to win the hand.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE TRUMP SUIT
Whichever suit is chosen will become the highest ranking set of cards for the hand. For example, if hearts become trump, the 2 of hearts is higher than the ace of any other suit.
In Bauer, the cards normally rank 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A. However, if a suit becomes trump, the order changes just a bit. The trump suit cards rank 7, 8, 9, 10, Q, K, A, J (same colored), J (trump suited).
For example, if hearts becomes trump, the jack of hearts becomes the highest ranked card in the hand. The jack of diamonds counts as a heart and becomes the second highest ranking card for the hand.
The German word bauer translates to farmer, and many games developed during the same time period of Bauer and Juckerspiel carried the theme of the farmer becoming more powerful than the royal elites. That is why the jacks are commonly referred to as the left and right bauer in Euchre.
If nobody calls trump, then the game is played with no trump suit. Aces remain high.
Once trump is determined, the game may begin. The player who determined the trump suit goes first. If no trump suit is determined, the dealer goes first.
Each hand, the player who goes first begins the hand by placing one card into the center of the playing space. All other players take turns doing the same and follow suit if able. If a player is unable to follow suit, they may play any card they wish. The cards that have been placed in the center are called a trick. The player who played the highest card in the suit that was led or the highest trump card takes the trick. Whoever takes the trick leads.
If there is no trump suit, the highest card in the suit that was led takes the trick.
Play like this continues until all of the cards have been played. Once all of the cards have been played the hand is over, and it is time keep score.
The player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer for the next hand.
Each team begins the game with 8 points. The team that determines trump must take the most tricks in order to win the hand. If they do so, they deduct one point from their score. If the team that determines trump fails to take the most tricks, no points are deducted from either team’s score. In the event that no trump suit is determined, the team with the most tricks deducts a point from their score.
The first team to reach zero points wins the game.