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The three critics: Spitz, Weli and Max
The three critics : Spitz , Weli and Max
Game data
Art Card game
Teammates 2-4
Duration 10 min. +
Age from 10 years

Watten (regionally also Watteln or Wattlung ) is a card game that is mainly played in Bavaria , Austria , Switzerland and South Tyrol . It is mostly played with 32 or more cards.


According to tradition, the game in its current form was created during the Napoleonic wars in Bavaria. At that time, the French and Bavarians, allied with one another, spent their free time in the field camps there. The name originated from the French term va tout (last trump).

Rules of the game

In the following, the rules of the variant common in Bavaria are explained first. Game variants in other countries or regions are explained below.

Four players take part in the game, with those sitting opposite each other playing together. It is mostly played with the German sheet or a regional variation, with each player receiving five cards. The aim of each pair is to take at least three tricks per game and win.

The colors of the German paper:

Acorn grass heart Ring
Bay acorn.svg Bay gras.svg Bay Herz.svg Bay schellen.svg
The three critics : Spitz , Weli and Max (from left)

The three highest cards in terms of value are the three critical ones , which are also referred to regionally differently as Kritten , Greek or Greek :

  • King of Hearts is the highest card in the game and is called Max after King Maximilian I of Bavaria (also Mäxle , Maxi , Mattl , Papa , Maler , Machtl , Maxl , Erdbeer-Schorsch )
  • Schellen 7 (in Austria and South Tyrol: Schellen 6) is the second highest card, the so-called Weli (also Belli , Benno , Bello , Belle , Bölle )
  • Acorn 7, the Spitz (also tip , Seuchl , Soacher , Soach , Bsoachter , Sächer , Bisi , Bise , Gspeitz ).

This is followed by the four strokes , four cards of a certain number or height. The next lower category after the stroke are the cards in the trump suit. Trumps trump all remaining cards that are not critical or beats. The following order of tricks exists under the trumps:

  • Sow (also called ace )
  • King ( chair printer )
  • Upper ( Saalflitzer , food carrier )
  • Under ( Bochramma )
  • 10 ( Eisenbahner , Bahner , sleeper Hupfer )
  • 9 ( snack )
  • 8 ( window plug )
  • 7 ( emergency cry )

The card, which is both beat and trump, is called right (also main stroke , captain , Hauwe , hood , skin , Hawe ). It is the fourth highest card after the Critical . There is no order of stitches for the three remaining strokes (also called left ), the color played first always wins.

In contrast to many other card games, there is no need to use a stitch or color when wading. An exception is when the main stroke is played as the first card in a game. In this case, all those involved in the game must comply with the request “Trump or Critical” ( “Kirch oda Kapejn” ) and add trump (suit) (play). If the main stroke was scored with a critical, the other players no longer have to play a trump.

If a player has all three critical ones in his hand or (depending on the region) another combination of cards that inevitably leads to at least three tricks regardless of the order in which it is played, a so-called machine , he must reveal his cards before the game starts and win automatically the game with 2 points. Another variant of the rule stipulates that he can reveal and automatically receive 3 points, but may continue to play if he hopes to achieve 4 points using the bluff technique.

Course of the game

Before the cards are dealt, they are shuffled and cut by the player sitting on the right, as seen from the dealer. If the bottom card of the drawn pile is a critical one, he may keep it (so-called licking ). In this case, in return, the dealer may look at the bottom card of the remaining pile and keep a possible critical. In the rare case of another subordinate critical, the withdrawer or the dealer may also keep this. If the withdrawing party waives his / her right to withdraw, this is also canceled for the giver. The withdrawing party can also take a card that is not critical as a bluff. But if all five moves of the game are carried out without the withdrawing player having presented a critical person, his team can be penalized by 2 points.

The stroke is announced by the first player after the dealer ( forehand ). The dealer then announces the trump suit. Before the announcement, the two announcers can ask the other to deal the cards again in the hope of getting better cards - you then ask “nicer ones”. The other can accept it, and the cards of the two announcers are put down and dealt again, or he can refuse and it must be announced with the cards already dealt. Widespread is the way the forehand, the giver percussion exchange (also impact exchange called) offer which the latter can accept or reject. In the first case, the dealer announces the stroke and the forehand announces the suit; the forehand continues to play. In the event of rejection, everything stays the same.

After the announcement, the player to the left of the dealer plays a card first, then the other players follow in clockwise order. The player who threw the highest card in the round wins the trick and takes it. Then this player must be the first to throw, the remaining players follow in clockwise order. If a trick is won without a critical, trump or stroke, i.e. only with a higher value card in the suit led , this is called a dant .

The pair with three tricks first wins the game. A game that is simply won yields two points.

If one party feels superior, it can during the game the number of points, is played by the increase by one ( deport or offer ). The other party can then either give up without a fight, whereby the game is scored with the old number of points, or accept the challenge and continue to play for the increased number of points. The deportation may be repeated as often as desired, but only alternately by both parties. This opportunity for improvement creates the possibility of bluffing - similar to poker . The deport done with the question "Are you going?" (Or "Gehts?" ; Inquiry: "(Na) Are you going / Gehts her.?" ) Or by a covert (ie lying upside down) card is played. If the other party reveals the card, they accept the challenge.

A round is usually won with 15 points. From 13 points you are excited , that is, you are not allowed to go out any more. You are also excited with 14 points. Every game then goes to three points that strained but party may if she feels inferior, according to the announcements from Trumpf and impact abandon the round ( go ), the opponents score only two points. The tense party is marked by crossing out its previous points on the score sheet, which is why it is also referred to as "deleted". In one variant, in this situation both parties are no longer allowed to deport ; the tensioned party will receive 2 points the past for each win (including abandonment for winning tensioned ) automatically 3. The tense party can also increase to 4.

After the end of a game, either the winning or the losing party (depending on the region) receives a black point on the score sheet, the so-called Bummerl or a bean .

A penalty of 3 points is often given for mistakes in the game, for example if a tense player fails .

The unnoticed removal of so-called random cards will coll. As packeln referred. In some regions, packing is not only allowed, but an integral part of the game.


As the two team players beginning their cards not know each other, that is interpreting (or sparks , muck ) the same by facial expressions and gestures not only permitted, but an integral part of the game. To this end, the game partners agree on secret symbols beforehand. The Max or Mattl is usually signaled by the tips of the lips, the Weli by winking with the right eye and the Spitz by the winking of the left eye. The fingers of one hand are also used to indicate which trumps one has. The following applies: Little finger = a seven, an eight, a nine or a ten of the respective popular color. Ring finger = under, middle finger = upper, index finger = king and the thumb means ace / sow. Often the fist also indicates that you have the trump card. Shrugging left shoulder means punch, right shoulder means that the player has the right. If the other player looks up, he indicates that he has no trump cards, he is then "blank". It is also allowed to talk about who should stab which card of the opponent (or try to do so) or what to play.

Before the stroke and trump are determined, no interpretation is allowed, so only the dealer and forehand are allowed to look at their cards at this point.

Usually one of the two team partners takes over the control of the game (for one or more games). It is important to leave your opponents in the dark about your own cards and at the same time to learn as much as possible about their cards through observation and the ability to combine them.

In South Tyrol, however, interpreting is prohibited.

Game variants for more or fewer players

There are also variants for two players (the forehand announces the strike , the dealer the trump ), three players (the forehand takes off, announces strike and trump and plays against the two opponents who form a team for the game) and six players (in South Tyrol 2 teams of 3 players each).

Regional differences

There are regionally different variations of the wadding, so that it is advisable for non-resident players to find out about any deviations.

The cards are given differently from region to region: either individually, in two blocks of 3 + 2 (Bavaria) or 2 + 3 (South Tyrol) cards.


In Bavaria , the critical variant with the king of hearts, 7 bells and 7 acorns is usually played with 32 cards .

In some regions of Bavaria, when the command “trump or critical” (also “trump or foolish” ) is played, the stroke is also regarded as a trump if the first player after the leading player has no trump. The blow must then be admitted. (Pepper variant) . Although not all cards are given out at the Watten, for traditional reasons it was not considered an illegal game of chance in Bavaria even if money was played. On the contrary, prize wadding is very popular and is heavily promoted by the organizers. However, this assessment of Wattens is no longer undisputed, at least in one case criminal charges have already been filed for illegal gambling.

In Franconia , by and large, the Bavarian variant described is played, but with a few variations. When the main stroke is played for the first time, all other players with a trump card must be known, even if the main stroke is stabbed with a critical. Here it is "officially" allowed that the player asks his partner schadd he ( Franconian dialect for harm he ) in order to find out whether this move takes an important trump card out of his hand and thus endangers the pair's success in the game ( e .g . if the partner only has a single, relatively high trump in hand). Is it also asked when deporting Thrust? instead of the terms described in the general section.


Variants played in Austria , especially in North Tyrol, Salzburg and Upper Austria differ mainly in that the second highest critical is the Schellen-6 ( Weli ) card . In certain parts of Carinthia, a fourth critical card is also added: the Schellen-Unter ( Bugl ), which is then the highest critical card. Typically, in Carinthia you write up to 11 points. From 9 points you are "gsponnt" (tense) or "kronk" (sick) and are not allowed to make an announcement (bet), as 2 points (minimum bet in a game) ensure that you win the game. If this should happen, the opposing team writes. In many places in Carinthia, so-called "Watter tournaments" are also played, where different variants, mostly critical or uncritical - Viererwatten, are played for prizes in exchange for an entry fee . Repurchasing is often also possible. Mostly, however, as in regional and national tournaments, an uncritical variant is played in which only strokes and trumps have highlighted tricks. Practically unbeatable cards become the right hand (e.g .: main beat + further beat: two right) and cards that can only be beat by the main beat are left (e.g .: three beats + trump pig: four left; two beats + trump sow: three wrong lefts ) called. In North Tyrol, as in South Tyrol, a Guaten is often played as the highest card and less often with a Beasn (the card just below the right) as the second highest. Four-Ladin is also very popular in North Tyrol.


In South Tyrol the uncritical variant with 33 cards is played almost exclusively . Each player receives 5 cards (except in the case of six-packs, where everyone receives 3 of 33 cards). The card that is one beat higher than the announced beat (in the announced suit) is the best card (e.g. if 8 of hearts has been announced, 9 of hearts is the best card; if the sow (the in South Tyrol but mostly only known as an ace), it is accordingly the 7 in the same suit). She is known as the Guate . This is followed, as in Austria, by the main stroke (called the right one) and the blind (the strokes in the other colors). Another difference lies in the meaning of the welis. This is sometimes generally considered to be the smallest trump, but mostly it counts as a Schell-6, although the other suits are still played without the sixes. If the Weli is announced as a stroke, there are no blind players: after the Weli as the best card, the trump cards follow in descending order. Depending on the village, it is different whether there is a Guat at the Weli or not, as well as whether the Schell-Ass is the Weli or the Schell-Sieben is the Guate. If you are playing with players from different locations, it is always advisable to determine these two things in advance.

Color is always compulsory when trump is thrown out. The remaining players in this round must then, if they have a trump card, either play trump (with stroke, gueten or trump) or a lower trump. The only exceptions are rights and goods. Although these are considered trump cards, they are not themselves subject to any color requirement.

In South Tyrol you have the option of beating your fist on the pack of cards instead of taking off before giving. In this case, each player is dealt all 5 cards at once instead of the 2 and 3 cards as normal.

In South Tyrol, games are generally played up to 15 or 18 points (rarely up to 11 or 21 points). In the villages of Cortaccia and Tramin , the game is traditionally played counter-clockwise. In Val Gardena , the Super Guaten is usually played with up to 11 points. This card is one beat above the Guaten . If z. B. Schell-Ace is the right , then the Schell-7 is the Guate and the Schell-8 is the Super-Guate . In the Ladin valleys there are separate names for both the game and the individual cards and colors.

From a launched game is when a player holds rights Guaten and at least one blind in his hand, so the game practically can not lose. The so-called miller's game is played when the player who determines the stroke holds the Guaten and two blind people in his hand, but not the right one.

At the beginning of the game you choose someone to write down the points. The scribe draws a two-column table on a piece of paper and writes down the number up to which the game is played (15 or 18), in such a way that the one on the left and the five or eight on the right. The scorer's team always gets their points written on the right side, the opposing team on the left.

Furthermore, a distinction is made between open and blind wadding.

  • With open wading, the announcers announce the punch and trump and then the team players look at each other's cards.
  • With blindfolds, on the other hand, hit and trump, hidden from the team players, are announced by showing a card at the same time.

In contrast to the 'Latins', the announcers are free to use whichever card appears to be the most convenient for them. The team players have to guess the popular stroke and trump based on the course of the game and are freed from any color constraints. These unknowns give the game an increased tactical component, as the profit no longer depends solely on the cards and good announcements, but also on the course of the game and the skill and skill of the team players. This variant makes it possible to lose with a game played.

In South Tyrol there are often prizes in which, for legal reasons, not money but prizes are given. The proceeds from these events usually go to a good cause. Different rules may apply to prize wading, but it is generally played openly (not blindly) and uncritically.

Related card games

Bohemian Wadden

A special feature is the game variant Böhmisch Watten or Hudln . The number of players is not limited here, as there are no teams and everyone only plays for himself. The biggest differences to ordinary wadding are the compulsory color (i.e., even if you have a higher card with which you can stab, you are not allowed to play it if you have cards of the suit led) and the duty to sting (i.e. when whenever you can place a higher card, you have to). The trump suit and the trump stroke are not determined by announcements , but by revealing a card when dealing, which the dealer then receives. This card is revealed between the two blocks of three or two cards being dealt.

After it has been dealt, each player can swap up to three cards, but the dealer may only receive 2 new cards, as he can still keep the trump card that was initially revealed.

The awarding of points also differs from normal Watten: each player starts with a score of 20 points, the aim of the game is to achieve zero points. For every trick taken, one point is deducted from the score; if you do not take a trick in a game, 5 penalty points are added. If a heart is revealed as a trump suit, the points count double, i.e. −2 points per trick or +10 points with no trick, and you cannot leave the game, which is possible with other suits. If a player has taken more tricks in a game than he still had points, the difference to the original score is added - in some regions, however, the number of points does not have to be reached exactly and the game can be ended with minus points.


Cards by the artist Egon Rusina with VIPs from South Tyrol: Reinhold Messner , Eva Klotz and Luis Durnwalder .

In the South Tyrolean variant Blindwatten (also Ladin Watten , Latins ), neither interpreting nor discussing game tactics is allowed. This increases the difficulty of the game considerably, since the two players who have not announced must first guess or find out what has been announced by observing them.

Another difference of the variant from South Tyrol is that for those players who have announced, there is compulsory color if a trump, the right or the guate should be thrown out, i.e. That is , if they have a trump, they have to admit it (the right and the guate do not have to be admitted). Alternatively, you can stab with a better card.

Trump and stroke are determined as follows in blind wadding: After the deal, the dealer and the player sitting to his left show each other the bottom card. In contrast to blind wadding, the cards in the Latins must not be sorted beforehand in order to rule out manipulation of the bottom card. The color of the bottom card of the dealer determines the trump suit for this round. The value of the bottom card of the player sitting to his left determines the stroke. After showing each other cards, one player from each team knows the trump suit and the stroke, the other two players must deduce or guess these two pieces of information from the course of the game during the course of the game. Only after the end of the round will the resolution of the trump color information be announced, if still necessary.

When all four cards are on the table, the dealer and the player to his left use their knowledge of the trump suit and stroke to decide which player will take the trick. On the basis of the information about which trick is won with which card by whom, the two "ignorant" players must try to find out the trump suit and the stroke. Since they usually only manage to do this after 2 to 3 tricks, it is hardly possible to assess the strength of their hand at the beginning of the game, as one does not know from this position whether - and if so - how many trumps and strokes one has.

In order to make it easier for the two initially “ignorant” players to think along, it has proven useful to put the last trick played aside after the winner of the trick has been announced. This makes it easier to determine the possible trump suit and the stroke using a process of elimination. After the next stitch is complete, the old stitch is turned over and must not be viewed afterwards.

A party immediately loses the current game if either player makes statements or gives clues that suggest the trump or the stroke.

Variant from 20 onwards

The card game 20 from is played in Franconia partly in a variant influenced by the cotton wool, in which the critical are the highest cards and the procedure of licking before the deal also takes place as with the cotton wool.


  • Watten is the name of a prose story by the Austrian author Thomas Bernhard (published 1969, ISBN 3-518-39320-0 ).
  • In 1997 the South Tyrolean painter Egon Moroder Rusina published 30,000 copies of newly drawn Watten playing cards with South Tyrolean celebrities. Another Watten playing card series, Prominent Women drawn by the same artist, appeared in 2002. In 2009, the third series of Watten cards drawn by the painter Egon Rusina with caricatures of South Tyrolean politicians and celebrities (for example Reinhold Messner , Silvio Berlusconi and Benedikt XVI. ) Appeared . In 2009 the "Andreas Hofer-Watten-Karten" appeared in South Tyrol with depictions of historically relevant personalities.


  • Max Hafele, Meinhard Eiter: Das Tiroler Watterbuch . Löwenzahn Verlag, 1999, ISBN 3-7066-2211-4 .
  • Hubert Auer: Wadding, bidding and pearls . Deuticke, 1999, ISBN 3-85223-433-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Kratzer: Karteln with the prosecutor . In: sueddeutsche.de . 2018, ISSN  0174-4917 ( sueddeutsche.de [accessed on March 8, 2018]).