Schnapsen strategy

So now you read the rules, played a few games of Schnapsen with your buddies and started thinking about how to improve your winrate. It doesn't really matter if you play online or at home with friends or family members, strategies presented here will point you in the right direction and help you win more games than you lose.

First we'll start of with a few basic things that you should be aware of when playing...

Schnapsen basics

So here are some schnapsen basics that you should know...

Have a plan:

Like in pretty much any other card game, you should also have a game plan in Schnapsen. This is even more important, if you are playing with the last trick wins the game rule. By plan I basically mean that you should decide what you want to do from the very beginning. If you want to play for the last trick, then save the trumps and high cards, if you want to play towards 66 then try to get those points early and keep the queens and kings for potential marriages.
Now, if you are playing without the last trick wins the game rule, you should still plan what you're going to do. For example, if you see the Queen of trumps tucked under the deck and you are holding the King of trumps, try to play so that you will be the last to draw. Also think about how you can get those high value cards, ask yourself if your opponent likes to take tricks early or does he save trumps for later?

Always keep count:

This should go without saying. You should always keep count of yours and your opponents points. This way you can alter your play if he is getting close to 66 and not let him take any more tricks for the sake of trying to take higher value tricks later. Also it really sucks if you could win with 66 points, but had no clue that you already had them two tricks back.

What to lead with:

A tricky question. You should try to get as many points as possible, so keep two things in mind:

  1. Know your opponent. Some players are shy about using their trumps early on, so you can play higher cards in early tricks and try to get them through. Other players will take any chance to take Aces and Tens, and you should try to save them for when the deck runs out.
  2. Keep your and already played cards in mind. When you have a few trumps it's that much more unlikely that the other player has any, so you might be able to play higher cards and take them down. Also when the game progresses, try to think about what cards ware already played. If all cards of one suite are already out, your Ace is not going to be very playable when the deck runs out(unless you have a lot of trumps and have a good chance to take a strong lead).

Counting trumps:

Very important. Always keep track of how many trumps are still out. That way you will know if you can take the lead after the deck runs out. For example, you are holding only the Queen of trumps, the Ace is already out and there are two more cards to draw(Jack is under the deck), in this case you will not be able to take the lead after the deck runs out, so use your trump now and try to dictate the action with any high cards you might have.

Last draw:

Here we can continue with the example from the previous point. There you won't be able to help yourself one bit by taking the Jack of trumps, so you should just take the last trick before the deck runs out and hope you get a good card.
But in a lot of cases you should fight for that last trump and let your opponent take the last trick before the deck runs out. The most obvious example of this would be, if the last trump makes you the trump marriage (be careful dough, your opponent can easily brake it before you can play it, since he is the first to act). Another example would also be if that last trump guarantees you the last trick you need to get 66 points.
Just try to use common sens and remember... have a plan.

Marriages:

There are two things you should know about marriages:

  1. You should try to make them as soon as possible, if you are unsure about whether you'll be able to take the lead again. The other aspect of this is that, if you are sure you can take the lead again, you can save them up for a little later, so that your opponent might let you have a trick or two that he would otherwise not (due to you already having extra points).
  2. The second thing you should know about tricks is... never save them for after the deck runs out. They become really easy to break after that.


Remember, these are the basic pointers to get you thinking in the right direction. In case you want to learn more advance strategies, visit Schnapsen strategy blog.


Enjoy!



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