Minchiate playing rules



Rules can be complicated in Italian games


It's not easy to decipher, why cards 1, 2-5, 10, 13, 20, 28, 30-35, 36-40 have special value in this Minchiate version.


Looking at the usual Minchiate Iconography, we have the following feature:

There's the "base of Tarot" presented at the cards 1-15, further at 6 not numbered cards, from which one is the usual Fool (=0) and the 5 others are the socalled Arie Star-Moon-Sun-Mondo-Tromba (usually in Tarot 16/17 - 20/21, but in Minchiate somehow ranked but not numbered 36-40).

... whereby Mondo (World) is below a card, which is a mix between Fama and Angel.



This group of 20 "traditional" cards differs from the usual Tarot version with 21 special cards beside Fool, that "two women" (Empress and Popess) and a pope are lost and instead 1 second emperor and 1 grand duke were added, so "21 - 3 + 2 = 20".
A further difference was created by presenting 3 virtues (the usual Temperance, Justice and Fortitudo) together at position 6-8 ... this change and the one lost figure moves Love to an unusual Nr. 5, the Wheel to Nr. 9, Chariot to 10 and 11-15 have the same order as in the Ferrarese Tarot.

The other 20 trump cards are constructed by 4 virtues at 16-19 (missing prudentia + 3 theological virtues, whereby interestingly Prudentia is positioned between Hope and the both others at 17), 4 elements at 20-23 and 12 zodiac signs in unusual row (24-35) with Gemini at highest position (35).

Taking it simply, then we have the usual Tarot version split in two groups at 1-15 and 36-40 and the free space (16 - 35) filled with 20 others symbols, a sort of "second Tarot" between the other, somehow merged between Tower (which is in the Minchiate an "exile of paradise") and the Star, beginning with Hope.


Minchiate 15 Tower


Florentine art ca. 1430 ... the association "exile of paradise" is justified)


Minchiate 16 Hope


Minchiate (36) Star

... one might remark, that somehow Star and Hope have a traditional similarity.
If one wishes to interpret the general "different Minchiate in contrast to the usual Tarot", then it seems, that the Florentines have with their version "extended the heaven" with a way, that leads to it, starting with Hope and some Prudentia and other virtues, exploring the elements and the zodiac, finally reaching the Star (which in the Minchiate case is a male king on horse - remember three holy magi in the Medici chapel) and the rest of the aries, which all somehow manifest the state, that heaven was reached.


Well now looking at the different versicole and the different points for them during the game. ...

(will proceed)


Rules of Minchiate Fiorentine

I resurrected this thread because I worked on a translation of the rules for deck of the month.

Please note my translated version may contain errors and may not be accurate but this is my version:

Suits are as follows: Coins, Staves, Swords, and Cups.
Cups and Coins are referred to as Red.
Swords and Staves are referred to as Black or Long.
Red suits rank highest to lowest thus: King, Queen, Knight, Page, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10
Black/Long rank highest to lowest thus: King, Queen, Knight, Page, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1

The Exceptional card of the deck is the Fool or the Excuse. He is not a trump or suit! He can add points as exceptions that will be explained below.

The common misconception of Minchiate is that there is no Pope. That is false. I totally believed that until I found the rules of the game. Translation of the trump cards shows as much. The trumps are named and numbered as follows:

English Translation Tarot Card in English

1. Pope 1 “Juggler”
2. Pope 2 “Grand Duke”/High Priestess
3. Pope 3 Empress
4. Pope 4 Emperor
5. Pope 5 “In Love”
6. Temperance
7. Fortitude
8. Justice
9. Wheel of Fortune
10. Chariot
11. Hunchback/Time The Hermit
12. Hung Man The Hanged Man
13. The Thirteen Death
14. Devil
15. Devil’s House The Tower
16. Hope
17. Prudence
18. Faith
19. Charity
20. Fire
21. Water
22. Earth
23. Air
24. Libra
25. Virgo
26. Scorpio
27. Aries
28. Capricorn
29. Sagittarius
30. Cancer
31. Pisces
32. Aquarius
33. Leo
34. Taurus
35. Gemini

Then without numbers the highest are the ARIE in this order:
Angel/Trumpet/Last Judgment

The nicknames of the series as trumps are as follows:
1-5 the Popes
6-9 Tarocchini (no English translation) Singular is Tarocco
10-19 Beneath 20
20-29 Super 20
30-35 Super 30
And of course the highest five the ARIE

How the Scoring Works

There are several ways to gain points in a game.
1) Cards with Points attached to them. (Explained more below.)
2) Versicole. A Versicola is achieved through combinations of certain cards. The cards can be in one’s hand and should be announced to everyone or gained in trick taking as the game progresses. The value of the versicola is added to the final points. Versicole will be explained below.
3) If you have more than 14 cards at the end that contained points. Any number higher than 14 is the sum of the total points you can collect for that advantage.
4) If you were the taker of the last trick you gain ten points.
5) The Excuse or Fool gives the team that had at least one versicola another extra five points.

Cards with Points:

3 Points
Pope 2, Pope 3, Pope 4, Pope 5

5 Points
All Kings, Fool, Pope 1, Chariot which is number 10, Death which is 13, Fire which is 20, Capricorn which is 28, and all of the Super 30

10 Points
The Arie



Versicole are combinations of cards which add to the score. There must be AT LEAST THREE or more ascending point cards to form a versicola.

Regular versicola are as follows, 1,2,3, or 1,2,3,4 or 1,2,3,4,5, or 2,3,4, etc., (called Versicola of Popes); then all ascending trumps from 28 through the Super 30 (Super Thirty Versicola); through the Arie, called Versicola Arie. For example: 28, 29, 30, 31, etc., Star, Moon, Sun, etc.

Irregular versicola are formed and named as follows:

1) Versicola of the Excuse/Fool/Mad: Pope 1, Fool, Trumpet/Angel(40)
2) Versicola of the Thirteen: Pope 1, Death(13), and Capricorn(28)
3) Versicola of the Tens: Chariot(10), Fire(20), Cancer(30), Trumpet/Angel(40)
If the Chariot or Angel is missing the Versicola is still valid but it is called an Ashamed because it isn’t the best Tens.
4) 3 or 4 Kings make a Versicola. 4 Kings is called the Versicola of the Crazy.

5) Variant Versicola: Demonio, Mondo e Carne.- 14 Devil and 35 Gemini and the World. Translated to The Versicola of the Demon, World and the Flesh.

The value of the versicole are added up by adding the values of each card involved.

The Excuse/Fool is added to any kind of versicola and his value is added to that versicola. However THE FOOL DOES NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF ANY CARD NEEDED FOR A VERSICOLA.

If you have a versicola and win a card during the game that makes the versicola bigger, that card makes the versicola even more valuable.


Important Cards to take into account during the game:

1. Pope 1: the lowest tarocchi-needed for many versicole. Try to capture it as early as possible.
2. Pope 3: the middle Pope needed to make Versicola of Popes. Try to capture it as early as possible so your enemy can’t have the points.
3. Fire(20): Because it is the middle of the Versicola of Tens.
4. Thirteen: Because without it you cannot form the Versicola of The Thirteen.
5. Cancer(30): Because it makes a Versicola of the Super 30 and the Tens
6. The Sun: Because it is needed for the middle of the Versicola of Arie.
7. Sagittarius(29): Because it has no points and can’t form a Versicola unless it is part of a 28, 29, 30 Versicola.
8. The Excuse/Fool: This card is not suit or trump. It can be played anytime in tricks but CANNOT WIN A TRICK. The card carries an extra five points to the holder of the card at the end of the game if the player has any versicole.
9. Keep in mind that Red Non-Court cards rank 1-10 and that Black Non-Court Cards rank 10-1

The Game

The Game can only be played by four people. It is a game of partners. The partners sit across from each other and partners switch at the end of each game. 4 games make a round and 3 rounds make a full set. If a complete round cannot be played for lack of time, 2 games suffice. The points are tallied at the end of each game and the person with the highest point total wins.

Supposedly this is also a game of wagers decided ahead of time as well. Players can decide how much to pay as a loser to a winner in their difference of points.

Keep in mind what has been played and what hasn’t to remember if this card is still important to the outcome of the final points.



The person to pick the highest card deals. So each player gets 21 cards. In counter-clockwise motion the first player gets 5 cards and then another five. Each person receives the same. Each player receives another 5 and then another five. Finally the last card is dealt out for everyone to see. Thus each player has 20 secret cards and 1 card everyone sees. Each player picks up the last card and puts it in their hands.

The remaining cards not dealt are referred to as the Crowd/”Folla”. Here is the tricky part of the translated instructions. The dealer picks up these cards and turns each card over AS LONG AS THEY ARE CARDS WITH POINTS OR SUPER 20 for all to see. These are called the turned cards. As soon as the dealer encounters a card without points he must stop. The dealer then proceeds to look at the rest of the cards. Then he puts the turned crowd cards back upside down and to his right. Everyone notes how many cards were turned. Then he hands the rest of the unturned crowd cards to his partner. The partner than peruses through the remaining crowd cards and announces 3 Baton, 2 Cups, etc., always in descending order. BUT IF there are any trumps left in the deck that weren’t turned he does not have to announce it at all. Then he hands it back to the dealer. The Crowd always stays to his right hand side and the players can ask at any time what is in the Crowd. But he does not have to tell anyone anything other than suit cards and how many of each suit.

The Play

Before play starts, players must discard an equal number of cards upside down in front of them that had been turned over from the Crowd earlier. These cards lay face down on the table in front of each player. They are translated to be called Scrap cards.

The first trick is played. It starts counter-clockwise of the dealer. Sometimes being the last to play is seen as an advantage but not if you want to lead a suit. After the first trick is played two things must happen:

1. Players must announce any versicole in their hands and show them and it gets marked for points. At this point the first trick can be cleared into a pile of the trick taker.
2. The scrap cards are turned over for all to see. The dealer’s partner announces them loudly and which player discarded them and gives them to his partner and he puts them in the Crowd.



How to capture a trick: The suit that is played first is the leading suit. A higher card of that suit or a trump captures it. Also, the highest Trump captures all. The person that won the trick collects the cards into a pile. The trick winner leads off the next trick.

Each time a point card is played and captured, the capturing partners mark that score.

Now if a player has no more trump cards to play, he has to lay down all of his remaining openly on the table. He is now called Fallen. The preceding trick taker gets to decide what will be played from that person’s hand for each subsequent trick! How horrible that would be if the Excuse/Fool or Kings were still in the Fallen hand.

Tricks are played until all the cards are used at which point the game points are tallied up.

Scoring Points

1. At the end of the game each player counts their cards. Any cards that are points are put into a pile. If you have 14 or more scoring cards you receive the number of scoring cards for points.
2. Next the value of your versicole is added to your score.
3. If you have the Excuse/Fool, you get to add another 5 points to each of your versicole.
4. The party that won the last trick scores another 10 points.
5. Then each scoring card is counted for points. This includes the Excuse/Fool again for its own 5 points.

After the final addition of points, the difference in points between the players is paid by the losers to the winner in their pre-determined wagers at that point.

There are ways to draw out trumps and kings I have not yet translated.
There are hints to give your partner ideas of what is contained in your hand. I have not translated that.

You have to look to see too what the guy next to you is doing. Maybe he is hinting to his partner. Do they make funny faces to their partner to signal? Remember at all times what has and hasn’t been played.

There are also ways to play the game through should you lose a card under the table, etc.

The translation I typed may have errors so don’t take it as accurate. But it is what I perceive the game to have been at one point in time. This was my source: http://germini.altervista.org/

If you have any questions, let me know, I may have an error...


With an edit I just updated the various types of Versicola with the 14, 35, and World. It is called the Versicola of the Demon, World, and Flesh. Flesh because Gemini at 35 is two nudes.

Working on a good typed translation of game strategies.

Let me know if there are any questions because I may have an error. ...



Assorted Minchiate Strategies


Teams will try to Scrap the same suit at the beginning of the game to make the play easier.

Non-scoring and non-trump cards are usually gotten rid of first. Knowing what is in the Crowd and what hasn’t been played makes it safe to play a suit you know the opposing team doesn’t have. Thus count in your head what has been played. It is okay to be counting cards.

If one’s partner leads a hand with a suit, which the next player leads, it is a good idea to beat that with the lowest tarocco as possible.

The translated instructions say to keep the important cards until the end. The Popes, Excuse/Fool, and Super 20 should be kept as long as possible and try to use them to win the last trick.

On Playing/Capturing Kings


Partners will try to lead the same suit of a king to tie him to that suit to save it from being captured. This strategy is not advantageous, however, if you do not have a lot of cards in your hand of that same suit or if there are not a lot of those cards of that suit in the Crowd, or if you have too many triumphs in your hand, or you believe your partner does not have any triumphs in their hand. This, again, is why one should always count cards.

More Strategies

Teams will try to lead a card that prevents the enemy from saving their own Important cards for later in the game. These are called Tenuta. Tenute involve playing trumps to draw out the other trumps needed to score the all important Versicole. Sometimes Tenute involve playing your highest trumps to bring your partners Important cards. Tenute are very important to the outcome of the game and the scoring in the game.

If a partner is the only one still having a certain suit they shouldn’t play it anymore telling their partner that the suit is no longer good to be played. On the other hand, if a partner has a lot of cards of the same suit, they should lead that suit once and then vary the suits if they can telling the partner not to trust that suit again.

There are several ways teams give each other hints on the situations in their hands. If I play a Super 20, my partner knows have the Angel/Trumpet, Sun, or World.
If in the first trick I play the 10 Chariot, my partner knows I have the Angel/Trumpet.
If I play a Pope or other small scoring card, I am telling my partner to take it with their highest trump.

Playing these cards however could tell your enemies what you have too. Keep that in mind.

Mistakes in Dealing, etc.

IF there is a mistake in dealing and a player has too few cards before the 21st card has been dealt, it can be corrected. BUT if it is discovered after the 21st card is dealt to the other players, that player has a right to draw as many cards as they want from the Crowd while looking at them. He can keep or discard any card he wants too. But the number must be equal. 10 points penalty plus another 10 points for each card is awarded to the player’s team.

If a card falls under the table, etc., that card is placed in the Crowd and the dealer can look at it.

If a trump wasn’t played when it had to be and it is noticed later in the game (because players without trumps must become Fallen) he has to pay a predetermined wager to both members of the opposing team.
more coming....
I am working on a translation of a sample round of Minchiate from a 1798 Manual.


Did another edit of the names of the Versicole.

4 Kings is called Versicola of the Crazy. And The Versicola of the Fool is also called the Versicola of the Mad.



Sorry to bump this old thread again. Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't the 4-handed versions of this game the only tarot games that involve the complicated robbing of the stock? This seems to have been borrowed from Triumph games that were imported into Italy during the 16th century. The reason might be because of the large number of undealt cards (13) which usually number 2-6 (or 10 in the case of Cego) in other tarot games.