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Xactica - Xactika is a bid and take tricks game.

Strategy for Xactika - Xactica

Fundamental to playing Xactika well is understanding the card distribution among the suits. A few extra cards denoting the distribution is included with every deck. For convenience sake, we will break down the distribution for you in the following table:
Card Value Total Number of Cards 1 symbol 2 symbols 3 symbols
4 1 1 0 0
5 4 3 1 0
6 10 6 3 1
7 16 7 6 3
8 19 6 7 6
9 16 3 6 7
10 10 1 3 6
11 4 0 1 3
12 1 0 0 1

From this we can see that there is only one "12" card. When led this will always take a trick. There is also only one "4" card. Unless led, this will never take a trick. However, it can take a trick if no one has any of the suit you declare.

Every card has the same number of symbols on it as the number on the card. This means that the "12" can only have 3 of every symbol on it. You will notice as you go down from there that every numbered card takes in every possibility of combinations of symbols to make up the number on the card, with one minor rule. There must be at least one of every one of the four symbols. This is why the lowest card is a "4". This is also why there is no "4" or "5" of 3 of any symbol. Now we see that the lowest card of 3 of any symbol is 6. And the highest card of one of any symbol is "10".

As complicated as this sounds, it becomes obvious after just a few hands of play. It also means that when you are bidding you can nearly always count on a "10" with a "1" of a symbol to always take a trick. But if it has two suits containing two symbols it is suddenly the second highest card, or even the third highest when 3 of a symbol is declared.

Bidding then is nearly as important as sharp play. If you are to be first to lead, you have an advantage over the other players because you can count on every highest card of a suit and then pretty much count on the necessity of the other players to take a trick to take the lead away from you when you are inclined to give it up with a low card.

Knowing you are to play after the first lead becomes problematic. Subsequent players must be careful to gauge their hands on the bids of the preceding bidding as well as on their own hands. Each player will have an equal chance of getting the lead after the first player gives it up. In a two player game it might be good strategy to underplay the leader after he or she has made his or her bid, if possible. In three or more person play, this strategy is more risky as the earlier you can get out of the lead after taking your tricks, the better off you are. The last person to lead is often the person to take the last trick just because every other player who already has his tricks is positioning himself not to take it.

If you are down to the last card and you do not wish to take the trick, you obviously have the choice of only one card. However, you still have the choice of four suits. It is generally best to choose the suit with the most symbols as this will be proportionally a lower card in that suit. For example, if your last card is a "9" with 2 balls, three cubes, two cones, and two stars, it is best to choose cubes as the suit as there are "10"s, "11"s, and "12"s which can beat it. While in the 2 symbol suits there are only "10"s and "11"s and fewer of those.

There is a certain mathematical symmetry to this game. It interesting to note how often the number eight comes up. Eight cards are dealt out. Eight hands are played. There are more eights than any other card. Xactika is actually a pretty easy game to play, but it has many intricate nuances which can help the experienced and intelligent player. Play at any level can be fun, but play with sharp card players can be fast, furious and fun.

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