The game is played with a deck of 40 cards in four suits. Players can choose between a French and an Italian/Spanish deck of cards. The French deck consists of the suits Diamonds, Clubs, Hearts and Spades. The Italian/Spanish deck consists of the suits Coins, Swords, Cups and Clubs.
|Jack / Fante||8|
|Queen / Cavallo||9|
|King / Re||10|
Each player receives three cards. Four further cards are laid out face up on the table. Once a player has played all three of his/her original cards, he/she receives a further three from the deck. When no more cards are available, the points accumulated by the players are totalled up. Depending on the totals, either a winner is declared or the cards are re-dealt.
If the table is empty following the deal, this is a special case, which is described under the heading “Extra point Scopa”/“Escoba” below.
Order of play
When the player takes his/her turn, he/she must attempt to take one or more cards from the table using one of the cards in his/her hand. The following rules apply:
The card(s) the player wishes to take from the table must come to a total value of 15 including the hand card.
Example for Escoba:
The following cards are on the table: 2, 3, 8 (Jack/Fante) and 10 (King/Re). The player has an Ace and a 5. With the 5 the player can take the King from the table, as the King is worth 10 points, which totals 15 points when combined with the 5.
If the player only had an Ace, he/she would be forced to place the Ace on the table, as it is worth one point and therefore cannot be combined with the other cards to total 15.
The card(s) the player wishes to take from the table must come to a total value, which is equal to that of the card in his/her hand. If there is a card on the table, which has the same value as his/her chosen hand card, he/she must take it. If the player is unable to take one or more cards from the table, he/she must place one of his/her cards on the table next to them.
Example for Scopa:
The following cards are on the table: 2, 3, 8 (Jack/Fante) and 10 (King/Re). The player has an Ace and a 5. With the 5 the player can take the 2 and the 3 from the table. If, instead of the Jack there is a 5 on the table, the player may not take the 2 and 3. He/she must take the card of the same value, therefore the 5. If the play only had an Ace, this would have to be laid on the table. The Ace is worth one point and can therefore only be used to take another Ace
Extra point “Scopa”/“Escoba”
It is possible for a player to take all of the table cards in one go. This is called “Escoba”. Achieving this is worth an extra point. The idea of the game is to achieve this as often as possible to pick up extra points and prevent the opponent from doing so.
With an Escoba there is an even rarer way of picking up one or even two extra points. The dealer receives an Escoba point when the values of the cards laid out on the table add up to 15 points. 20 points are awarded if the total is 20 points. The dealer sits to the left of the player who is set to go first in the round. The table is therefore empty following the deal, while the player in question receives an extra point.
A round comes to an end when none of the players has a hand card left and there are no more cards remaining in the deck. The last player to have taken a trick receives the remaining table cards, however no Scopa/Escoba points are awarded for this. A Scopa game is over as soon as a player has won 11 or more points at the end of a round. This player is the winner. If more than one player achieves the same score of 11 points or more at the end of the same round, further rounds are played until one of the players wins outright. The winner must reach a total of 21 points in Escoba.
The player with the most cards taken receives a point (providing no other player has the same number of cards). The player with the most Coins/Diamonds receives a point (providing no other player has as many Coins/Diamonds). The player, who has the 7 of Coins/Diamonds also receives an extra point. Finally, the player with the best Primiera cards is awarded a point.
The player who has the highest card here receives a point (providing no other player has a card of the same value). Should a player be missing one or more suits, he/she loses the Primiera point to a player with more suits.
Taking as many cards as possible is generally the way to win. Particularly important, however, is collecting as many Coin/Diamond cards as possible. Furthermore it is worth attempting to take sevens (especially the Coin/Diamond seven) and sixes to receive the Primiera point. If a player can achieve this and simultaneously clear the table of often as possible, the game is as good as won.
Special tips for Escoba
When playing Escoba players should also keep an eye on preventing the opponent from clearing the table. To achieve this, the player can leave cards on the table that have a value so low that the opponent has no chance of making a total of 15, or so high that the opponent can take cards with just a single card, which the player knows he/she cannot have. As a result, it is worth trying to figure out what cards the opponent might be holding.
Special tips for Scopa
Also when playing Scopa players should keep an eye on preventing the opponent from clearing the table. This can be achieved in two ways. A player can either attempt to keep the value of the cards on the table above 10, stopping any player from clearing the table. Or attempt to put cards on the table, which the player knows the opponent does not have suitable cards for. If a player knows, for example, that all four 6s have already been played, he/she could put a card value of 6 on the table
End of Game
As soon as a player reaches 21 or more points at the end of an Escoba round, or 11 for a Scopa round, he/she is declared the winner and the game is over. If more than one player achieves the same score of 21 or more at the end of the same round, further rounds are played until one of the players wins outright.
Scopa and Escoba can also be played with four players, who are automatically divided into two teams. The rules remain unchanged. All points and extra points, however, are credited to both players of the team.
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