OBJECTIVE OF HEART HUNTER: Be the first player reach a score of zero during Phase 2
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 or 4 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 or 36
RANK OF CARDS: (low) 2 – Ace (high)
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-taking card game
AUDIENCE: Kids and Adults
INTRODUCTION OF HEART HUNTER
Heart Hunter (called Hartenjagenin its native land) is a trick-taking card game played in the Netherlands. It is best played with four, but it can also be enjoyed with three players and a shortened deck.
Heart Hunter is played in two phases. During the Phase 1, players are trying not to capture Hearts, the Jack of Clubs, or the Queen of Spades. Doing so will cost penalty points. During the second phase of the game, players want to capture as many Hearts as possible, the Jack of Clubs, and the Queen of Spades. Doing so will allow them to deduct points from the score they accrued during phase 1. The first player to reach a score of zero or less wins the game.
THE CARDS & THE DEAL
Heart Hunter uses a 52 card pack for a 4 player game, and a 36 card pack for a 3 player game. To shorten the deck for 3 players, use cards 6 – A. In both player counts, Aces are always high.
Determine a dealer. Shuffle the deck and deal 13 cards to each player.
The player who is dealt the 2 of Clubs leads the first trick. Play passes left, and each player must follow suit if they can. If they cannot follow suit, they may play any card they wish. The highest card in the suit that is led wins the trick. The trick-winner leads the next one.
A player can lead Hearts to the trick at any time during the game. They do not have to wait for Hearts to be broken. This applies to the Jack of Clubs and Queen of Spades as well.
During the Phase 1 of the game, players are trying not to collect any Hearts, the Jack of Clubs, or the Queen of Spades.
Play continues as described until all twelve tricks are played. This ends the round. At the end of the round, tally up each player’s score. If no one has reached a score of 100 (or 50 for a quicker game), continue playing Phase 1 rounds. Collect the cards and the deal passes left.
When one or more players reach the scoring threshold, Phase 1 ends and Phase 2 begins.
During Phase 2, players want to capture as many Hearts as they can as well as the Jack of Clubs and the Queen of Spades. Other than that difference, play is the same as in Phase 1. Whoever is dealt the 2 of Clubs leads the first trick of the round. Players must follow suit if they can. If they cannot, they may play any cards. The highest card in the suit that is led wins the trick. The trick-winner leads the next one.
Continue playing Phase 2 rounds until one or more players reach a score of zero or less. If more than one player reaches zero or fewer points with the exact same score, continue playing until there is a winner.
A NOTE ON THE 3 PLAYER GAME
For a 3 player game, there are only 15 points available each round. The scoring threshold to end Phase 1 is 80 points (or 40 for a quicker game).
For both phases, Hearts are worth 1 point each. The Jack of Clubs is worth 2 points. The Queen of Spades is worth 5 points.
During Phase 1, each player adds the points they captured to their score. Once a player reaches 100 points (or 80 in a 3 player game), Phase 1 ends and Phase 2 begins.
During Phase 2, each player deducts the points they capture from their score. The game ends as soon as anyone’s score reaches zero or fewer points.
SHOOTING THE MOON
During either phase, if a player captures all of the points for the round (20 in a 4 player game, 15 in a 3 player game), they have shot the moon. During Phase 1, the player adds 20 (or 15) points to all of their opponents’ scores. After shooting the moon during Phase 2, that player deducts 20 (or 15) points from their score.
The first player to reach a score of 0 or less wins the game.