Math Team Hearts is a speedy modification to Hearts that ironically involves less math than the vanilla game.
One good way to train yourself in the design of game mechanics is to challenge yourself with controlled design exercises in which you take an existing game system, set a new player experience goal, and make changes to the system to meet that goal.
We needed a game that played quickly, without a defined endpoint (e.g. when one player reaches 100 points in normal Hearts) because this game was played in free time waiting for school to start or waiting for the bus. There was no time to spend tallying up scores, counting hearts and doing awkward math.
The rules also modify the risk-reward value of shooting the moon to make it more attractive. We found the game to be more interesting when multiple parties were invested in shooting the moon with less drawback from accumulating hearts.
The game plays like normal Hearts, except taking hearts no longer gives you points.
- Taking any number of hearts without shooting the moon gives you 0 points.
- Taking no hearts in a round gives you 1 point.
- Shooting the moon gives you 2 points.
- Taking the queen of spades without shooting the moon gives you -1 point.
The player with the most points at the end of play wins.
For more variety, use dealer’s choice drafting rules. Each round, the dealer decides on how players will pass cards prior to play. Players take turns dealing.
I’m working from memory, so I’m not sure I’ve got the point values exactly right. Perhaps there should be more of a penalty for taking the Queen without shooting the moon. That would create a more exciting risk-reward trade-off.