The most recent (and most successful) musical venture of Australian indie mainstay, expatriate Scot and one-time Sleater-Kinney drummer Lora Macfarlane.

Recently released their second proper full-length, "180º", the follow-up to their previous (and rather wonderful) LP "767".

An intriguing and fun card game invented by David Parlett. Designed for three players, and outside of Skat, I think it's the best three-handed trick game out there.


Standard 52-card deck with all cards below 6 removed, plus one joker. If no joker is available, use the 2 of Clubs instead. Cards rank, high to low:


Deal the cards out in batches of 3. Turn up the last card to establish the trump suit. If the turn-up is the joker, the hand is played at no trump. Otherwise, the joker is treated exactly as if it were the turned-up card. This is to establish a random trump suit without forcing someone to disclose a card.


Each player now appraises their hand and decides how many tricks they will win. This must be an exact number; any more or less and you lose. Bids are not declared aloud. Instead (and this is the neat part), each player discards three cards that represent their bid.
Each diamond discarded represents 0 tricks
Each spade discarded represents 1 trick
Each heart discarded represents 2 tricks
Each club discarded represents 3 tricks
You formulate your bid by addition, so discarding 3 diamonds means you will try to win no tricks, discarding 1 club, one spade, and one diamond indicates 4 tricks (as would 2 hearts and 1 diamond, or 2 spades and one heart, etc). The rank of the bid-cards is irrelevant, only suit has meaning. The bid cards are placed face-down in front of each player and are not revealed until (possibly) the scoring.


After all players have bid, left of dealer leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if able, or else may trump or discard. Each trick is won by the highest card of the suit led or the highest trump if any are played. Remember, the object is to take exactly the number of tricks you bid. The winner of a trick leads to the next.


After the 9th trick has been won, players count their won tricks and those who made their bids (took exactly the same number of tricks as they bid) turn their bid-cards face up and announce the fact. Scoring is as follows:

Each player scores the number of tricks he won, plus:
30 points if he was the only one successful
20 points if 2 players were successful
10 points if all 3 were successful
The game ends when someone reaches 99 or more points.


Skill at this game lies primarily in deciding the number of tricks to win and lose with the hand you are dealt. In this game, few hands are really "bad" because you can bid from zero to nine. The hardest hands are those that you could bid easily on but would have to discard crucial cards in order to actually bid that number.

Watch other players carefully during the play. A player who takes three tricks or so and then suddenly plays a low card to get rid of the lead has probably taken all the tricks they bid, and thus if you can force them to take another trick (which of course you intended to lose) they will not make their bid.

Note also that nine unknown cards (the bid-cards) are missing from play, so a Queen you thought you could get rid of by throwing it to the King or Ace may wind up winning instead if those cards have been discarded as bid-cards. Exploiting this principle, a fun thing to do if you cannot find a way to bid on a hand is to discard your three highest cards in the hope of confounding the other players when they turn out to be absent from play.

A fast-paced card game for two or more players, using a standard 52-card deck.

The goal is to force the other player(s) out of the game. The central pile begins at 0. Players take turns playing cards that add or subtract from this number. A player loses when he cannot play a card without going over 99.

Players begin with 4 or 5 cards. Play proceeds in a circle, each person playing one card and announcing the new sum. A new card is drawn from a draw pile after one is played. The central pile may be reshuffled into the draw pile, but the sum is not reset.

Normal cards add their face value to the sum.
Aces add 1.
Fours reverse the direction of play.
Fives allow the player to select the next person to play, not himself. Play then continues normally from that person.
Tens add or subtract 10, at the player's choice.
Jacks add 0. (Effectively a skip of turn.)
Queens add or subtract 20, at the player's choice.
Kings set the sum to 99, regardless of what it was before.

The sum cannot go below 0.

When there are only two players, fours, fives, and Jacks all have essentially the same effect.

Although it seems complicated to memorize all of the special cards, they soon grow intuitive, and games will move quickly. Eventually, the math may become the biggest hold-up.

Some basic points to consider:

People usually don't begin with a good hand. They use the first slow climb to 99 to stockpile special cards while getting rid of unwieldy cards like eights and nines. Playing a King early on makes life interesting, and could easily finish off a player or two.

Most people won't play a Queen except as a last resort. If there are only a few players, especially if there are only two, you can try to kill them by neutralizing the Queen with one of your own. If there are many players, you can try to force them to play when the sum is near 99 by playing a five.

The more people playing, the less you want to lower the sum. By the time it's your turn again, the effects of your play will be lost.

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