This is not a guide for the British card game “Napoleon”. While it is in the same family of card games this game is derived from the Five-Hand Five Hundred version of Euchre.

The main modification between this new Napoleon, and the older version, is that it is separate from all other trick-based games; the points associated with bids are not tricks won, instead they are face cards won.



Number of Players: Four players or five players recommended

Playing time: Half an hour



Like the card game Mao, Napoleon is a game named after a great and powerful leader. This game could be called “Emperor,” or “Conquerer,” but is called Napoleon after Napoleon Bonaparte because he was a great conquerer.


Object of the game

The object of each game is to collect an amount of royalty (face cards; tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces) to make or break the bid.


Basic concepts

The highest bidder is the Napoleon. The Napoleon then announces a card, whose bearer is the Napoleon’s secret partner, his general. Napoleon and his general will try to win at least the bidded number of face cards and the others will try to prevent this. Napoleon is a game of “trust;” players will trust each other not to be the general, and the Napoleon trusts the other players to be the general when they drop royalty in a trick.


A standard deck is used, with no jokers. Aces are high. The dealer shuffles and deals each player twelve cards (with four players) or ten cards (with five players). The remaining cards are put face-down in the middle.



Players then view their hands, sorting by suit. A bid is an attempt to be Napoleon. You bid announcing the number of face cards (10, J, Q, K, A) you plan to win with your partner (there are twenty in a full deck), followed by the suit you want trump.

For example, if you have a large amount of high clubs, you may bid “eleven clubs.” Players may bid as many times as they desire, up to a bid of twenty (almost impossible). The player who wins the bidding is the Napoleon.

Napoleon then announces a card (e.g. King of Hearts) and the holder of that card then becomes Napoleon’s secret partner, his “general.” Napoleon then takes the two or four cards in the middle into his hand and then discards the same number of cards, placing them face down in a discard pile.



Once the Napoleon has discarded the extra cards, he leads, playing any card he desires. Play goes clockwise. Each player must follow suit if they are able to do so. The highest card of the lead suit wins the trick unless a person without cards in that suit plays a card in the trump suit. The highest trump would win.

The winner of each trick takes the face cards (tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces) and places them face up in front of him or herself. The rest of the cards are turned face down in the discard pile. There only needs to be one discard pile. The winner of each trick leads the next.

Special Cards

If every player follows suit, the trick is not the first trick, there are no super-cards in the trick (see later), and a player has played the two of the suit, the two wins the trick. There are three super-cards (also called power cards), the ace of spades, the jack of trump suit, and the jack of trump colour.

If the ace of spades is played in a trick, the ace of spades wins.

If the jack of the trump suit is played in a trick and the ace of spades is not, the trump jack wins.

If the previous two cards were not played and the jack of the same color as the trump suit is played, then that jack wins.

Super-cards will beat trump cards. If clubs is trump, the ace of clubs is the fourth most powerful card in the game. The queen, king, and ace of clubs would lose to the jack of clubs or spades. The jacks of the opposite color as trump (in the example this would be hearts and diamonds) are not special.


In this game, players can say, trust. In most circles, you can only say “trust” if you have already played a card in the current trick. Saying “trust” means that you think that you are going to win the trick and that the other players should trust that you aren’t the general (or that Napoleon should trust that you are). This is part of the “secret partner” aspect of the game. It makes the game more exciting and less predictable than spades or pitch.



Napoleon is usually played for stakes. An equal number of chips are distributed to every player. It is also possible to play for money. If the bidder makes his bid, he collects from each other player, although it matters nothing if he makes more tricks than he declared.

He is paid only for the number of tricks that he first declared. If he is defeated, he pays every other player, but only for the tricks he declared before the play

Less than 5: Bidder wins 1 for each trick from every player, or pays 1 for each trick to every player if he loses.

Nap: Bidder wins 10 from every player, or loses 5 to every player. Thus, playing Nap against 4 players, the bidder would win 40 chips (10 from every player), or lose 20 chips (the bidder pays 5 to every player).



Failure to follow suit to the lead when able is called a “revoke”. A revoking bidder must pay all opponents as though he had lost. A revoking player must pay the bidder the full amount he would have collected had he won. In the last case, the other opponents pay nothing. In every case, play is abandoned and settlement is made at once.
Related External Links

There is a useful Napoleon walkthrough on the pagat website.