Napoleon is a deceptively simple bidding and trick-taking game. Although it is relatively easy compared to more sophisticated games like Bridge or Whist, what Napoleon lacks in finesse it makes up for in fast pace and player interaction. The scoring system, using chips, also lends itself well to wagering. The delightful difference of using "Wellington" and "Blucher" in the bidding refers, of course, to other famous generals of Napoleon's day; but the card game itself is said to date back only to the late 1800s - well after the French leader's death.
The standard 52-card pack is used.
A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
From a shuffled pack spread face down, each of the players draws a card. The player with the lowest card deals first, the ace ranking below the two for the draw only.
The dealer has the right to shuffle last. The pack is cut by the player on the dealer's right.
Each player receives five cards, dealt in a round of three at a time, then a round of two at a time, or first two and then three.
Each player in turn, beginning to the dealer's left, may make one bid or pass. A bid is the number of tricks, out of five, that the player thinks he can win with a particular suit as trump. A bid of all five tricks is called Nap. (Variation: A bid of Nap can be overcalled by Wellington, and that in turn by Blucher. These latter calls are also bids to win five tricks, but incur greater penalties if the bidder fails.)
The highest bidder indicates the trump suit by making the opening lead, which must be a trump. Other players must follow suit if possible. A player who cannot follow suit may trump or discard at will. A trick is won by the highest card played of the suit led, or, if it contains a trump, by the highest trump. The winner of a trick leads next.
There is no credit for extra tricks won either by the bidder or by the opponents beyond what was needed to make or defeat the bid. If the bidder makes the bid, he collects from all the other players. If the bidder is defeated, he pays every player.
Less than 5 11 for each trick 11 for each trick
Nap 10 15
Wellington 10 10
Blucher 10 20
The usual way of settling scores is to distribute an equal number of chips to all players before the game and then settle in chips after each deal.
If a misdeal is called for any of the usual causes, the same dealer redeals.
A player dealt the wrong number of cards must announce the error before bids or passes; otherwise he must play on with the incorrect hand. A short hand cannot win a trick on which it has no card to play. If a bidder's hand is correct and an opponent's incorrect, the bidder does not pay if he loses but collects if he wins. If the bidder's hand is incorrect and all others are correct, the bidder does not collect if he wins but pays if he loses.
There is no penalty for a lead or play out of turn by bidder, but the error must be corrected on demand if noticed before the trick is completed, otherwise, it stands. If an opponent leads or plays out of turn, he must pay three chips to the bidder but collects nothing if the bidder loses.
Failure to follow suit when possible is a revoke. If a revoke is detected and claimed before settlement for the deal, play is abandoned and settlement is made at once. A revoking bidder must pay all opponents as though he had lost. A revoking opponent must pay the bidder the full amount he would have collected had the bidder won. The other opponents pay nothing.