Scoring as many points as possible tends to be your main goal when playing a game. The bigger the number, the better you are.
But some games turn this convention on its head. Take golf, where the winner is the player with the smallest number next to their name at the end of the round.
This inverse scoring policy gets even more interesting when you apply it to playing cards. While games like Bridge, Whist, and Pinochle see you trying to take tricks, their evasion-based counterparts see you trying to throw them away.
Of all the evasion card games, Hearts online is easily the most famous and well-loved, not least because it had the good fortune of being included in every version of Microsoft Windows between 1992 and 2009
In case you have somehow neglected to play it so far, this is what you’ve been missing.
The goal in Hearts is to avoid taking tricks, or at least to avoid taking tricks with Hearts in them. That’s because each Heart is worth one point, and getting points is bad.
While Hearts is named after the suit you want to avoid, the real killer is the Queen of Spades. If you end up winning a trick containing this card, you’re lumbered with a whole 13 points.
Most of Hearts is about avoiding tricks, but there’s a rare exception. If you’re feeling brave you can aim to Shoot the Moon, which involves collecting all of the Hearts, as well as the dreaded Queen of Spades.
If you succeed in stockpiling every single penalty card, not only will you avoid any kind of penalty whatsoever, but each of your opponents will be lumbered with 26 points.
It’s a killer blow, but nigh-on impossible to pull off.
As soon as a player hits 100 points, it’s game over. Whoever has the lowest score at that moment wins.
If you fancy your chances at Hearts, we can wholeheartedly recommend heartsgame.com. There are plenty of ways to play the game, but this is the definitive experience, with custom decks, multiple difficulty levels, and a whole load of fascinating information.
Plus, the site has its own comprehensive guide, allowing you to begin your Hearts career with a head crammed full of winning strategies.
Click here to get started.