What’s the deal with the thin rook cards?

Rook has been a favorite game for so many for a long time.  The concept of the game is simple that anyone can learn and understand it, yet it is complex enough that even your game playing strategists can dissect the intricacies of the game for their winning benefits.

However, for some reason, Hasbro (one of the largest toy companies and game creators on the planet) decided to make this game so very unenjoyable.

How might you ask is that possible?

By making a deck of cards that are so utterly thin that you can literally can see through to the other side of the cards.

Not only are the cards especially thin material, but the “plastic” coating used are the cards seems like a substance that dissolves in your hands.  Completely unlike the M&M candy, melts in your mouth and in your hands.

The trouble is, we love the game so much that we can’t figure out why Hasbro would make us not want to play it.

It’s completely laughable.  If you go to Amazon to try and purchase the Hasbro deck of rook cards, the first reviews are all warning about the poor quality of the current deck of rook cards.

hasbro rook card reviewsThe part that is laughable to me about this is that even with a number of poor reviews that show up as the first and most helpful reviews, Amazon still has this product reporting an almost 5 star rating.

rook almost 5 star rating

I do love the game, but seriously, if the product is poor quality, I’m surprised these complaints don’t carry more weight.

I don’t usually like to rant about something someone is doing poorly…so I am going to switch gears.







On the flip side, you have a company (57 Cards) that has created a similar deck of cards, yet has done so with integrity in quality.  While the rating on the product looks almost identical, I assure you the quality of these two decks are drastically different.

57 cards amazon deck

For us in our game, we solely use the 57 Cards deck which you can purchase at Amazon here.

Whatever the deck is called, 57 cards or Rook, I’m happy to have a chance to keep playing in my house for a long time!

Playing Rook 3-Handed

Rook is one of our favorite games!  It lasts the perfect amount of time. We can have our friends over and have dinner and then play for about one hour, and then we’re done.  But the one drawback we’ve always run into has been getting the exact number of people to come and play.

For example, the other night we were trying to get a game of rock going (my wife and I) and we couldn’t find two other people to play with. With people with busy schedules, it’s hard to find a consistent group that can play with each other.

So playing rook three handed is something that we certainly have wanted to incorporate. There are often times where we were able to get 3 people together, or have 3 people for most of the time before the 4th was to arrive.

It wasn’t until recently that we were introduced to a new way to play rock three handed that we have really enjoyed.

This is how it has been described.

It flows much like the game of bridge. Each player bids for the amount of tricks they are going to take.  So rather than points, the player is bidding on the amount of tricks they will take. There are are a total of 20 tricks available.

The game is also played with two Rook cards rather than one. The rook is played as the lowest trump.

Every player bids on how many tricks they think they’re going to take, and then the winner is given a Kitty of four cards.

The rounds are then played where players follow suit just like the regular rook, and trumps can be played just like the regular rook. The only difference is that players are not trying to collect points, but rather they are trying to simply win tricks.

The end of the game the players total their tricks, and if the bidder makes their bid, they are awarded their points. However, if the two defending the bid stop the bidder from getting their bid, then they are awarded the total amount of tricks that they took individually.

A player wins the game when they have amassed a total of 50 points.

The last thing to note is that the Rook cards are worth one trick each. This is what makes a total of 20 tricks possible each round.

Have you ever played 3-handed rook like this?  Do you have another way of playing rook 3-handed?  Please let the community know.  I’d love to get the best version of 3-handed rook listed.

Playing Rook at the Beach

In Southern California, we are lucky enough to get a decent amount of beach days a year.  A full day at the beach may mean an hour driving to the beach in the morning and an hour driving home at night, mixed with a full day of activities in between.  Along with some fun beach activity including beach volleyball, surfing, frizbee, football, soccer, and the like.  We love to end the afternoon with some breezy rook playing.

Surprisingly, playing rook at the beach (while a bit sandy and windy) can be extremely fun.  If you are using the regular plastic coated rook cards, you may find the cards don’t last as well near the water, but some nice fully plastic cards will take care of that.

Keeping score can also be a bit difficult as papers may be flying all across the beach if you aren’t careful.  There are some simple phone apps out there that can keep score just fine though.

There are two things I never seem to get enough of, that is a day in the sun at the beach, or days where we get to play rook.  Mixing the two…priceless.

Teach Your Kids Rook

My family was a little bit of a card family.  I grew up playing cards (bridge, sevens, hearts, spades) with my family about once a week.  It was sort of our traditional Friday evening activity.  While rook wasn’t introduced to my family until later in life, I certainly learned the basics of card playing while very young.

It is amazing how quickly kids can learn and grasp the strategic concepts of rook and board games or cards in general.  I recently was playing with my 10 yr old nephew chess.  We had only taught him the game a few weeks ago, and already I was having to pause throughout the game to really think about the best strategic moves to win the game.  He had learned the game well enough that already was thinking on a high level strategically.

I am reminded of when I was younger how much I loved to compete in cards.   I was a competitive kid as it was, and to have an outlet for my competitive side in something non-violent was great (not that I was trying to be violent, but just keeping myself out of trouble).

Now, years later as a parent myself, I am reminded of how important it is to teach and play cards with your kids early and often.  It is such a fun activity and if you are looking for ways to add more bonding time with your children, it is a perfect activity to incorporate weekly.

Rook makes for a great game to teach your kids early.  It is fun yet challenging for kids and they can grasp the concepts very early in life.

Please teach your kids so we can keep adding to our number of rook players.

Re-Deal: I Wish it Wasn’t So Hard to Get

The other day we were having a great session of rook.  The first time my original group of 4 people had played in over 2 years.  You know…life happens.   At any rate, it wasn’t the most competitive of sessions as we were too busy catching up on how everyone was doing.  What’s new in life, who got married, who had kids, who is having grand-kids…the norm.

So during the match we played, twice I was dealt some of the worst hands I could ever imagine.  Back to back, I was dealt 13 cards, none of which were over 12, and I only had one point card each time.  The first had I was dealt one 10 and the second hand I was dealt one 5.  Our requirements for a redeal in rook (since we play with the 2s 3s and 4s) is all cards must be 12 or under and you have no point cards.  People have different requirements for redeal.   Some do not even play with the redeal option at all.  It is so rare that we sort of like it.

The hands I was actually dealt though happened to be even worse than a redeal hand since I was forced to play them and I had no way of cluing my partner in that my hand was horrendous.  The only thing I could do was remove myself from the bidding early on, but the way the bidding went, it was not obvious how completely terrible I was sitting.

In fact, since my hand was so bad, it meant that everyone else’ hand was actually very good, including my partners.  So my partner bid strong thinking that if I could just help in a few places or the kitty filled in a hole or two, we would be fine.  Of course, I did not take a single trick.   And since I didn’t have but one point card each round, the opponents had a lot of point cards they could play on each other.

Needless to say, we did not win those rounds and got set pretty convincingly.  While we were just 100 points away from victory before these two games, we dropped all the back to being down more than 400 pts.  Luckily for us, our opposition was a bit rusty as well and we were able to set them back to -500 with some pretty ugly sets…including two rounds where trump was called by our opponents and I look down to see 6 of the trump cards ready for setting.

Since we had such a lead on them, we ended up winning the match for the night.  I just took a lot longer than it should have.  Yeah for another session of rook with the old crew!

Do you ever have those nights where the cards are just making really strange games?  A lot more setting than normal.  Some nights you can finish a round to 500 pts in an hour.  Some nights it takes almost 3 hours.  This night was one of those longer sessions.

Long term rook battles

One of the things that makes rook so fun is challenging the same opponents over and over again until after many nights of repeat play, one team takes the overall championship.  Last year, my wife and I took on a challenge to battle two of our good friends in rook with the first team getting to 100 wins would get a dinner purchased by the losers (a win would be getting to 500 pts).  Over the course of many nights of play, we got all the way up to 88 wins, by the leading team and 83 wins by the losing team, but one of the teammates had regular life get in the way and had to move out of town.  So we were left with a void to complete this epic series.

How disappointing!  Only 20 more matches or so and a winner would be revealed.  Truthfully, a free dinner was a fairly small prize for how much winning needed to be done to get to the finish line.

So now on to 2012, and in steps a new partner and a new match.  With our eyes set on a smaller number we have 1 win down in our chase to 25 wins.   Hopefully this time regular life will allow us to complete the series and crown the ‘dinner is served’ champion!

Review of 57 Cards: Deck of Plastic Rook “like” Cards

Over the years, we have played many, many hours of rook.  So many hours that we have seen our fair share of rook decks come and go.  In early years, the rook decks were fairly sturdy and would last for many months of playing.  In more recent years, the rook decks found themselves to be less sturdy, and simply would not last very long before become a burden to play with. In came 57 Cards, the plastic deck of cards that are perfect for the card game rook.

57 Cards makes a deck of cards that are exactly like rook cards, but do not have the name brand rook written on them.  They are still composed of the same 1 through 14 and four colors of black, red, yellow and green.  The difference is their rook card looks like a tree (not sure why they chose a tree).

The Pros

The quality of these rook like cards are amazing.  Being fully plastic, they do not lose their smooth and sleek feeling when played with over time.

The cards last a long time!  We have rarely had a time when we found a 57 card deck cause us issues.  We house many tournaments and now exclusively use 57 cards to play our tournaments.

Even after many months of playing, they still feel like the first time we played with them.

The Cons

They simply are not rook cards.  We are so used to using the term “bird” or the “rook” and it is a little different when there is a picture of the 57 cards logo – the tree – on there.

There is also only one colored deck.  We would love to be able to have two different colored decks so that while one deck is being played with, the other deck can be shuffled.  With the same backs, there is always the possibility that the decks will get mixed together.

The 57 Card decks are also more pricey than a regular rook deck.  It is almost double the price to get a 57 card deck than a regular rook deck.  If you are an occasional player of rook, it may not be worth it to buy the long lasting plastic deck that 57 cards offer.

Final Thoughts

We really like playing with 57 cards now.   As we have stated, we are exclusively using 57 cards in all of our rook tournaments now.

Playing rook during the Holidays: Reminder of family game nights

The Holiday season has always been a great time to get together with family for fun and fellowship. With our family, we have always enjoyed playing boardgames or card games together.  We are competitive, but the holidays seems to mellow the competitive spirit out for everyone.  For some family members, we haven’t seen them in many months so it is just good to enjoy their company, even if we are sitting around the game table.

This year we spent some time with our favorite board game settlers of catan as well as playing some nice rook.  We started out with a plane ride from one side of the U.S. to the other, and played some 2 handed rook on the way.  2 handed rook become very common for a while, but we have played it much less over the past few months.   It was nice to get reminded of how fun rook can be even with 2 players.

Then, upon arriving to visit the rest of the family, we were treated with some new decks of plastic rook cards from 57 cards that inspired us to play some long hours of rook.  We even tried a game they recommend for groups of 5 or more called 8 up.  It has similarities to rook but also has a phase 10 feeling to it.  They came out with an updated deck recently and it is actually a pretty smooth rook like deck.

Half of the time, we ended up playing without even keeping score.  It was just fun to be with the family.  Our family used to play many hours of games together each week.  The holidays seem to be a perfect reminder of how much fun family game nights are.

If you don’t have a family game night in your family, maybe you are missing out on a time to be lightly competitive yet bond in team unity.  Rook is a great game for a family of four with mom and pop playing with their 2 kids 10 years or older.  Get your family learning games early.  They will likely remember the memories fondly and can keep the activity going for many years into the future.



16 Person Round-robin Rook Tournament: Instructional Guide

Bracket with 4 TeamsDue to a request, I have decided to create a post for how a set partner rook tournament would go with 16 people.  With round-robin, you have two stages of the tournament.  The round-robin portion which basically produces two tournament brackets to complete the tournament.

Initial Notes

  • 16 People
  • 8 Teams
  • Broken up into two different groups
  • Final tournament to crown one team as champion
  • Each round should be played either for time or to certain points

The Setup

With 8 teams, you will ultimately need to break up your group into two divisions. Randomly place 4 teams in one division and 4 teams in another division.  These 4 teams will then play each other to seed themselves in the tournament bracket portion.

Round-Robin Stage

During the Round-robin stage, the four teams will play each team in their division.  So for group A that has teams 1 through 4, each team will play three rounds.  Team 1 vs 2, while team 3 vs 4.  Then team 1 vs 3 while team 2 vs 4.  Finally team 1 vs 4 while team 2 vs 3.

After the 3 games are played, the scores are are recorded and calculated to see the seeding.  The rankings of the teams from the round robin group are as follows:

  1. Most wins
  2. Point differential in games.  Add total points for and subtract total points against.  (If tied for wins)
  3. Who looks the best (if tied for point differential)

The top 2 teams from each pool then go on to the winners bracket while the bottom two teams go on to the losers bracket.

Tournament Bracket Portion

There will be a winners bracket and a losers bracket now.  Team ranked 1 from pool A will play team ranked 2 from pool B while team ranked 1 from pool B will play team ranked 2 from pool A.  The winners of this match will then play a final game vs each other to produce a winner.

Some people choose not to have a losers bracket, it is up to you if you want to play a losers bracket.  If you do, it would be the same concept where team ranked 3 from pool A would play team ranked 4 from pool B, and so forth.

Winner is Crowned

In total, you are looking at 5 total games to produce a clear winner with all the bragging rights for the day.  Congratulations to you, but you can expect you victory will be short lived as someone else is ready to take over your crown the next rook tournament.

Additional Notes

  • Some people choose to play games to 500 pts and do not time the games.  The downfall with this is one game could end in 20 minutes while another game could end in 2 hours.  Other people choose to just play timed matches.  40 minutes per match and whoever is winning by the end of the time get the victory.  This can throw a wrinkle in some strategies for extending games, but keeps time to a minimum.
  • You can expect that this tournament may take about 4 – 5 hours to crown a winner (possibly more with longer games).    So be prepared for a long night if you start a 10:00pm!