Literature isn’t your typical adult, group-play card game. Comparable to the classic children’s game of Go Fish, the rules are much more complex. A good Literature (Canadian Fish) strategy takes time and inherent skills to master. Unless playing in a purely casual setting, it’s not the best game choice for everyone.
Before I get into the full details of gaming strategy, make sure you know how to play, by both traditional and variant rules. You can learn more about this popular Canadian card game here:
How to Play Literature (Canadian Fish)
More Ways to Play Literature
Theoretical History of Literature
Literature Card Game Strategy
A proper Literature strategy starts with experience, and ends with ultimate memorization skills. In between all that, knowledge of your opponents and their tendencies can be invaluable. The following tips—and there are a lot of them—will help you gain an upper hand against your opponents.
Perfect Memorization – Unlikely!
If you happen to be one of those people who can remember absolutely everything you see and hear, this is the perfect game for you! Obviously, you can excel at Literature by remembering every card asked for, who asked, and where it went. If you don’t have a photographic / audiological memory…
Remember What Matters
If you don’t have any cards of a particular suit, you can’t ask for that suit, thus it’s not important to remember who has them. Your brain can only hold so much information, so make sure you remember the important cards that you may need to ask for, or can identify which partners are holding them.
It’s been proven that making up a relevant song can help you remember things. This doesn’t work for everyone, especially in a long game, but it could be useful.
“Jane’s heart sings when she has kings”
“Pat on the back for clubbing the jack”
“Leonard’s spade is a #5 shade”
“Ace of diamonds belongs to Simon”
You get the idea… Of course, if the card moves to another player, you’ll need to change your song lyrics accordingly.
Blackballing Dangerous Opponents
One of the most important strategies is to keep control of the game away from dangerous opponents. If you know a player has all but one of a card needed for a book, and two of your teammates have been asked for that card, then obviously your other teammate, or one of theirs, has it. You can prevent this player from making or claiming the book by never letting them have a turn. To do this, you simply never ask them for a card. So long as your teammates are paying as much attention as you, blackballing is a very effective strategy for Literature.
Asking the Asker for Same Suits
If someone is asking for cards in a particular book that you have some cards for, it’s generally a good idea to ask them for the cards you’re missing. They obviously have at least one of them. However, you also run the risk of them asking you for the cards you have. Sometimes, when you have a lot of those cards, it can be best to lie low and gather as much information as possible before you begin asking for those cards. That way, you can get as many as possible in a single turn, and possibly claim the book before ever revealing you have them.
Refrain From Claiming
If you have all 6 cards necessary for a book, the natural instinct is to claim it. However, it can benefit your team tremendously to hold onto it. A player with a large number of cards is more likely to be asked questions by opponents, discouraging them from asking your teammates who may actually have the cards being asked for.
Know What Your Team Wants
If your teammate asks for a card in a suit you’re holding, remember it! You can help them draw this card from opponents by asking on your turn, and as you gain more knowledge, deduce which card(s) they have for claiming the book later on. By asking for cards in the same book, you’re also telling your teammate that you have one or more of them, so they can do the same.
Don’t Claim without 100% Certainty
Unless you are absolutely certain about the location of all cards in a book, don’t claim it. If your entire team has those cards, it’s safe. There’s no way your opponents can steal it from you—unless you claim it incorrectly!
End Game Claims
If you’re at the end of the game, and only your team has cards left—all belonging to the last book—let the player with the most cards do the claiming. They will have the best chance at correctly identifying who has what.
Over time, these Literature card game strategies will become second nature to you. So long as your teammates are as experienced as you are with the game, your odds of winning will increase proportionately.
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