21 Feb

Mix it Up with Yukon Rule Variations

Learn a variety of alternative rules for Yukon.

Mix it Up with Yukon Rule VariationsThe Canadian card game of Yukon has some rather strict rules. They aren’t found in many textual materials, and are even less common in online gaming guides, making it more difficult to spice up your games with variant rule flavors.

The following is a list of alternative rules I’ve come across in books, online research, and by word of mouth. Feel free to mix up your games by adding one or more of these rules to accommodate you and your friends’ preferred style of gaming.

This document assumes you are already familiar with the traditional rules of Yukon. If not, please refer to this page first: How to Play Yukon in Canada

Yukon for 3 or 5 Players

Traditionally, Yukon is played with four players paired off into partnerships. This makes it difficult to enjoy the game when one of your game night regulars can’t make it, or if an unexpected visitor tags along.

To play Yukon with 3 players, you simply adjust the deck size by removing a single 2 of any suit. Adjusting for 5 player Yukon requires the removal of any two 2s from the deck. Make sure everyone knows which card or cards have been removed, for all you keenly observant card counters out there!

Since you won’t have a partner to help accumulate score, you may want to adjust the target score to somewhere between 100-150 (see Variable Target Scores to Win below). Another option for 5-player games is to let every player deal once. After a complete round of deal rotation, the player with the highest score wins.

Aces Low

In some circles, the Ace is the lowest ranking card in the deck. The rank of cards, per suit, is:

J-K-Q-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-A

Capturing Aces becomes much more difficult, and more interesting, since their 5-point value remains intact.

Alternate Scoring for Yukon Jacks

By old-school rule books, a standard Yukon Jack has a point value of 10, and the Grand Yukon 15. I’ve read some variations described on the internet where the standard Yukons (club, diamond, and heart) are worth 11. It’s only a slight change, but it does make sense that a lesser trump should be valued higher than any other non-trump card. This rule increases the overall point value of a hand from 125 to 128.

Variable Target Scores to Win

I’ve heard of numerous ways to win Yukon, depending on the number of players and desired game length. Some groups go by a target score, while others play hand by hand, or by a rotation of dealers. These are all the alternative ways to score and win the game, starting with the traditional method for 4-player partnership games:

  • First team to reach 250 points wins the game. The target score can be decreased for shorter games, or increased for longer games.

  • First player to score 100-150 points wins the game. Again, the target score can be adjusted for shorter or longer games.

  • The player with the highest score at the end of each hand wins that game. A new hand, therefore new game, is dealt thereafter. This is the best way to control the length of a game.

  • The player with the highest score after every player has taken a turn dealing wins the game.

Extend your knowledge of this fascinating, century-old card game with the following links:

How to Play Yukon (Traditional Rules)
History of Yukon Card Game
Yukon Strategy

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