Wizard - card game - Rules and strategy of card games (2024)

Home :: Card games

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

  • "Canadian Rule" - If the dealer (last to bid) has more points than any other player (not a tie for the lead), he may not bid a number of tricks that would make the total number of tricks equivalent to the number of cards in the hand, unless he does so by bidding zero.

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.


  • "Hidden Bid" - Each player writes his bid on a piece of paper and all bids are revealed simultaneously before play begins. (Wizard bidding coins can also be used.)
  • "Delayed Reveal Bid" - Similar to Hidden Bid but bids are not revealed until all the tricks have been played.
  • "Wizard Maximus"- All cards are dealt out in every round of play. There are only five rounds of play per game. Trumps change in each round, in the order Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and no trump.
  • "Wizard Saboteur" - The dealer is always the “Saboteur”. The saboteur does not bid and always receives 20 points at the end of the hand. The saboteur tries to prevent other players from making their bids.
  • "Lost Weekend Bid or Hands In Bid" - All players determine their bids and place a closed fist (or fists) on the table in front of themselves. On the dealer's count (usually three), all players reveal their bids with a corresponding number of fingers. (Fist remains closed for zero; one finger = bid of one, etc.) The scorekeeper records the bids at that time. Thus all bids are known but there is no advantage to, or burden on, the dealer. Commonly used at the Lost Weekend in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA.
  • "Hardcore rule" - If there are four or more tricks in the hand the dealers must make the bid uneven regardless of score.
  • "Third Time's The Harm" - Every third hand all players must bid before looking at their hands.
  • "Quick play" - Hand size increases by two cards instead of one each round to speed up play. The final round should always use all the cards, thus three, five or six player games start with a hand of two cards and a four player game must start with a 1 card round.
  • "Nannie's Rule" - The game can also be played in reverse starting with the maximum hands and going down to one, eliminating the lowest score after every second or third round.
  • "Jester bid" - The bid is always zero, making the Jester the best card.
  • "Chatham Bid" - The bids aren't revealed until after the round has been played.
  • "Forehead card" - When only one card is dealt the player does not look at the card, but instead places it facing out on his or her forehead. This allows the player to see the other player's cards, but not his or her own. Bids and play continue as usual.
  • "Smyrna Style" - When a Wizard is turned as the trump card at the end of the deal, the dealer gets to designate the trump suit, but also specifies a special additional rule that applies to the next hand. The special rule is intended to cause confusion and chaos. Examples of the special one-hand rules are:
    • the "Gizzard/Fester" rule. When a Wizard is played, the player must call "Gizzard!" or else the card counts as a Jester. If a Jester is played, the player must call "Fester!" or else the card counts as a Wizard.
    • the "pass one" rule. After the bids are made, each player passes one card to the player on their left.
    • the "pull one" rule. After the bids are made, each player can pull one card from the hand of the player on their right.
    • the "last card up" rule. The last card of each hand is dealt up, so all players can see it.
    • the "uber-wizard" rule. The dealer specifies a card or class of card (Jesters, Suicide Kings, Queen of Spades) that trumps all trumps.
    • The points for tricks are as follows: 5-0, 10-1, 15-2, 20-3, and 25 for 4 tricks. A player receives no extra bonus matching their bid.
  • "Tricksy Wizard" - Trump is initially determined for each round as usual after cards are dealt. Any time a Wizard is played, the trump suit is immediately changed to the suit of the Wizard card played if the deck shows suits on the Wizard cards, otherwise if the Wizards are not suited the person playing the Wizard may choose the trump suit.
  • "All-Wizards, All-Jesters" - Each round alternates between assigning all Wizard and Jester cards as either all wizards or all jesters, so that in any round there are either 8 Wizard cards in the deck and no Jesters, or 8 Jesters and no Wizards.

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:

  • In a 3 person game, x=39, bid 1 with an offsuit Jack or stronger.
  • In a 4 person game, x=44, bid 1 with the 3 of trump or stronger, (4 of trump if the turn up is the 2 or 3).
  • In a 5 person game, x=49, bid 1 with the 9 of trump or better, (the 8 will do if the turn up is higher than the 8)
  • In a 6 person game, x=50, bid 1 with the 10 of trump or better (9 if turn-up is 10 or higher)
  • In the special case that a jester turns up and there is therefore no trump, and the player has the lead: always bid 1 in a 3 player game, With 4 - bid 1 on 3 or higher, with 5 - bid 1 with any 9 or higher, and with 6 players a 10 or higher.


Wizard - card game - Rules and strategy of card games (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Reed Wilderman

Last Updated:

Views: 5652

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (52 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Reed Wilderman

Birthday: 1992-06-14

Address: 998 Estell Village, Lake Oscarberg, SD 48713-6877

Phone: +21813267449721

Job: Technology Engineer

Hobby: Swimming, Do it yourself, Beekeeping, Lapidary, Cosplaying, Hiking, Graffiti

Introduction: My name is Reed Wilderman, I am a faithful, bright, lucky, adventurous, lively, rich, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.