mudflats

Watten is probably most familiar to our readers from Bavaria, Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol, because the game is almost exclusively to be found in the English-speaking Alpine region.

As with most of the card games in our series of articles, Watten also follows rules that vary greatly from region to region, so that foreign players should always inform themselves about the corresponding variation before the game begins. In principle, however, the differences lie mostly in how the cards are dealt and which cards can be played as trumps. It is interesting to note that for traditional reasons in Bavaria, tidelands are not considered illegal gambling, although not all cards are dealt and are very often played for money. As with so many other card games, little is known about the exact origin of waddings, since the rules of the game are handed down orally as a tradition and are rarely documented in writing. According to tradition, Wadden in its present form originated during the Napoleonic wars in South Tyrol, more precisely in the camps of the French and Bavarians who were allied at that time. Hence the name “Watten”, derived from the French “va tout” (last trump card). Related card games are the Latinern and Böhmisch Watten.

Other games Online Skat, Online Mau Mau, Online Doppelkopf, Online Canasta or Online Schafkopf – also interesting games and similar to Watten.

While Poker and basically all internationally known card games are played with the well-known French hand with 52 cards, the old English hand is used for Watten.

The English hand

There are regional card games all over the world, which every child can play there, but which are meaningless internationally. Skat is a good example of this.

But also Watten, which is related to Doppelkopf, Schafkopf and the Swabian Binokel, enjoys cult status in the region of Bayer, Switzerland, Austria and South Tyrol, whereas it is hardly known outside this region.

And if you now say that this is already international fame, then you misjudge the regional differences. We’ll discuss some of them later.

The English sheet has four card colours, which correspond to those of the French sheet. However, the map colours are named differently depending on the region.

Here an overview of the equivalents.

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Franz. Leaf         English leaf
Cross              Eichel, Ecker
Pik              Schippe, Grün, Gras, Laub, Pik, Blatt
Herz            Herz, Rot
Karo          Clamp, Bollen

A deck consisted of 36 cards with the valences 6-10, lower, upper, king, ace and sow respectively. The origin of the beautiful nickname for the ace is not 100% certain, but is probably due to the representation of a pig on the aces in early 16th century card decks.

In the most common version of Wadden, the sixes are removed from the game. So there remain 32 cards, similar to the Skatblatt.

Rules

Despite all regional differences the rules of the game can be roughly sketched in the following:

Wadding is played by four, where the opponents play together, in contrast to Doppelkopf, where the players have to find out in the course of the first tricks with whom they actually play together.

It is therefore played with the English hand or a regional variation, whereby each player receives five cards. How the cards are dealt – individually, in blocks of two or three – depends on the region you are in. However, there is no right or wrong. Nevertheless, it is advisable to become familiar with the local customs, because the locals can be quite sensitive when it comes to customs and traditions.

The goal of each pair of players is to win three tricks per game.

The three highest trick cards are the Criticals (Kritten, Greek, Greek):

  • Herz-König is the highest card and is referred to as Max (or Max). Mäxle, Maxi, Mattl, Papa, painter, Machtl)
  • Clip 7 is the second highest card, the so-called Belli (or Benno, Bello)
  • Eichel 7, the Spitz (or Spitze, Seuchl, Soacher, Soach, Bsoachter, Sächer, Bisi).

The Critics are always the three highest cards in the game. But then it gets a little more complicated. The next step is the selection of the stroke, i.e. the fourth highest card and determinant of the trump suit.

The player to the left of the dealer declares a card value, usually one that the player has at least twice. The dealer may then announce a suit. For example, if the player has three Under in his hand, he will call the Under. If the dealer has three hearts, he will declare the heart to be the trump suit.

This in our example is the Under Heart. He has thus risen to the fourth highest card and is now called the main beat or right. At the same time, his colleagues in Eichel, Schippe and Schelle are the next higher cards, called the Left. There is no order among them, they are all worth the same amount. In case of doubt, the card suit played first sticks.

The lowest trump category is the cards in the trump suit. Color trumps always trump all cards that are not critical or strokes, although there is a trick order here as well: Sau (ace), king, waiter (food carrier, hall runabout), under, 10 (railwayman, railwayman), 9 (snack), 8, 7 (cry of distress).

In our example, the game would have the following trumps in descending order:

Heart King, Bell 7, Acorn 7, Heart Under, Bell/Occl/Scoop Under, Heart Ace, Heart Queen, Heart 10, Heart 9, Heart 8, Heart 7.

In contrast to many other card games, Wadding does not require tricks or colors, unless the main beat is played as the first card of the game. If the main blow is not stabbed with a critical, all players in this round must play ‘Trump or Critical’ (Kirch oda Kapejn).

If a player has a so-called machine, i.e. all three criticals in his hand, he usually wins the game automatically with 2 points and must reveal his cards before the game begins, whereby this case can be handled differently depending on the game variant.