OBJECTIVE OF TRACTOR: The objective of Tractor is to win as many tricks as possible to increase your game score.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 players
MATERIALS: Two 52-card decks with 4 jokers included, and a flat surface.
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game
OVERVIEW OF TRACTOR
Tractor is a Chinese trick-taking game played by partners. In this game, the goal is to increase your score over Ace. Both teams start at a score of two and you must climb up the ranking to get over ace by winning points from cards gathered through tricks.
To set up, two 52 card decks and 4 jokers (2 black, 2 red) will be shuffled and placed face down on the table. Each player in counterclockwise order draws one card at a time until a 25-card hand is achieved. This leaves 8 cards on the table as a talon for later.
There are two separate trumps in Tractor. There is a trump ranking and a trump suit. These change with each round played. For the first round, the trump ranking is two, and in future rounds, it will be equal to the declarer’s team score. The declarer in the first round is the person who makes the trump suit as described below. In future rounds, it will be the team that won the previous round.
To find the trump suit someone will need to reveal cards face up to the table. These can be revealed as they are drawn or anytime until a trump suit is determined finally. There are three options for revealing cards. A player can reveal one card of the rank, making that suit the trump suit. A player can reveal 2 identical cards of the trump rank to make that the trump suit, or a player can reveal 2 identical jokers to make the round have no trump suit and in this case no trump rank.
When a player reveals one card it can be canceled by another player showing two cards or two jokers. Same with two cards, which can be canceled by two jokers. Only jokers cannot be canceled.
If all players draw their 25 cards and no trump is declared, then in the first round all cards are taken back a reshuffled to start the round over. In future rounds, the talon is exposed one card at a time until a card of the trump rank is revealed making that the trump suit. If no trump rank is revealed then the highest-ranking card, excluding jokers, becomes the trump suit. In case of ties, the first exposed card becomes trump. The talon is then given to the starter as usual.
A player on the declarer’s team will be appointed the starter for this round. This will change each round. This player will get to pick up the remaining 8 cards from the table and exchange them for cards in their hand. The exchanged cards are then placed again face down on the table. They may affect scoring later dependent on what is discarded and who wins the last trick.
Card Rankings and Point Values
There are three possible rankings for this game. There trump and non-trump rankings and rankings for rounds where no trumps are in place.
For rounds with trumps, the trump ranking is as follows Red Jokers (high), Black Jokers, The trump of suit and rank, the other cards of trump rank, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2(low). An example of this would be in the first round the trump rank is two and the suit is hearts the ranking of this example is Red Jokers, Black Jokers, 2 of hearts, 2s of other suits, Ace of hearts, King of hearts, Queen of hearts, Jack of hearts, 10 of hearts, 9 of hearts, 8 of hearts, 7 of hearts, 6 of hearts, 5 of hearts, 4 of hearts, and three of hearts.
Other non-trump suits always have a ranking of Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 (low).
For rounds with no trumps, the jokers still count as trumps, but they are the only ones. They rank Red jokers then Black Jokers. All other cards rank as non-trump suits.
There are only three cards worth points. Kings and Tens are worth 10 points apiece and fives are worth 5 points. The only players that score points are the opponents’ team these are the players not on the declarer’s team and based on their score at the end of the game, either they are awarded points, or the declarers are.
After the talon has been discarded facedown the round can begin. The starter leads the first trick. All play is counterclockwise, and the winner of the trick leads the next one. There are 4 possible ways to lead a trick in Tractor and each way results in players following different rules of play. The basic rules stay the same though, once a trick is led all players must follow suit if able but if not may play any card. The winner of the trick is the player with the highest played trump (in the case of a tie, the one played first) or if no trumps are available the highest of the original suit led (if there are ties, first played card takes it).
The first way to lead a trick is the traditional trick-taking way. This is when a player plays one card from their hand for other players to follow. The above rules apply for finding the winner of the trick.
The second way to lead a trick is to play a pair of completely identical cards. This means two cards of the same suit and rank. When this is done players, who follow must also attempt to play an identical pair of cards of the same suit. If a pair does not exist, then 2 cards of that suit must be played and if not able and card of that suit paired with any card can be played. If no cards of the suit are available to play, any 2 cards can be played. In this case, the highest paired trumps or if not applicable, the highest pair of the suit led, will win.
The third way to lead a trick is to play two or more sequenced pairs of identical cards. This means two or more pairs of identical cards of the same suit in ranking order. Remember that some cards may be out of traditional ranking order when playing trumps and are valid in their ranking system. When this is played, players must follow suit as closely as possible. The number of cards must always be matched. If possible, the same number of identical pairs must be played but do not have to be consecutive. If not possible as many pairs must be played as can be, followed by any other cards of the suit to fill in missing cards. If still not enough then cards of any kind may be played. The highest consecutively paired trumps of the same amount as the original led set wins or if not applicable, the highest consecutively paired cards of the same suit as the original suit led wins.
The fourth and final way to lead a trick is to play a set of the highest-ranking cards in a suit. These can be a mix of single and paired cards, but the cards played must not be able to be beaten by any cards of that suit. When this is played players must follow suit by playing the same layout of cards of the same suit as much as possible. If a single and two pairs are led, then players must try to play two pairs and a single card of the same suit. If not able to pair, as many cards of that suit must be played as possible then other cards may be played if still lacking cards. The leader of the trick will usually win unless the suit led was not trumps, and unable to play any cards of the suit, another player plays the same layout of the original all in trumps. If this happens with multiple players, then the player with the highest paired trumps played wins or if not pairs the highest single trump played. If a tie is had then the player to play their winning card first wins the trick.
If a top card lead is done incorrectly then that player must withdraw their cards and must lead the wrong pair or single card that can be beaten the player who can beat it must. Also, the incorrect player must transfer 10 points for each card withdrawn from their lead.
The opponents are the only players to gather points during the round but dependent on those points either they or the declarer’s team will benefit.
If the opponents’ won the last trick, they flip the talon. If there are any kings, 10s, or 5s in there they will score points for those. If the last trick was a single card, they score double points or if the last trick involved multiple cards, they score points multiplied by double the number of cards. For example. If the last trick involved 5 cards, then the points in the talon would be multiplied by 10.
If the opponents’ scored 75 to 40 points, then the declarer’s team score increases by one rank. If the opponents’ score was between 35 to 5 points, then the declarer’s team score increases by two ranks. If the opponents’ scored no points, then the declarer’s team score increases by three ranks. In any of the above scenarios, the declarer’s team remains the declarer’s team and the starter becomes the partner of the last starter.
If the opponents’ team scored 120 to 155 points the opponents’ team score goes up one rank. If the opponents’ team score 160 to 195 points the opponents’ team score goes up by two ranks. If the opponents’ team score 200 to 235 points the opponents’ score goes up by three ranks and if they score more than 240, they increase rank for every 40 points after that. In the above scenarios, the opponents become the declarers and the new starter is the player to the right of the old one.
END OF GAME
The game ends when a team exceeds the ace rank and they are the winners.