Roller Derby is a 4-player card game modeled after the sport of the same name. It is a trick-taking game in the spirit of Hearts, Spades, and Euchre. As with those traditional games, it is played with a standard fifty-two card deck, but unlike most card games, it also requires two six-sided dice.
Like Spades, the game is played between two teams of two players, with partners sitting opposite one another. Each hand, or jam, has three phases. Phase one is the deal and roll, phase two is the exchange and declaration, and phase three is the derby and tally.
The scoring system is unique. Each jam starts when the jammer, sitting to the dealer’s left, rolls the two dice. The number rolled by the jammer is her team’s target tricks for the jam. If they take exactly the number of tricks rolled, they score one hundred points. They lose ten points for every trick above or below their target.
Here the game’s terminology diverges a bit from real roller derby lingo. At any point only one team has a jammer jammer and only that team can score. Still, if not perfect, it is a fun theme for a card game.
After dealing and rolling comes phase two, the exchange and declaration. Each player chooses three cards to exchange with her partner. After receiving her new cards from her partner, the jammer declares which suit will be trump.
Next the game itself is actually played, the “Derby” phase. Play begins with the jammer and proceeds counter-clockwise, a la roller derby the sport. The jammer throws any card she likes. Other players must match that card’s suit, unless they have no cards of that suit. The player who has thrown the highest card that round, taking into account the trump suit, takes the trick.
The game is played either as a bout consisting of four jams, or a double-header lasting eight jams. This format is a fun divergence from Hearts or Spades, in which consecutive rounds continue to be played until a certain score is reached. At the end of this game, as with the sport, the team with the highest score wins.
A complete description of the game’s rules, including information on game variants and managing irregularities, can be found here. All those interested in the game’s origins can learn more about it and its creator here.