Manni Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Are you looking for a new challenge? How about learning how to play an original Icelandic trick-taking game? This Manni card game rules guide explains all you need to know. 

It belongs to the family of trick-taking games and has a lot in common with Whist (see our Whist card game rules) or Oh Hell (read Oh Hell card game rules).

Manni means “little man,” and it refers to the spare hand of cards dealt to the table in this original card game, letting you improve – or even worsen your hand before you start playing. 

This Manni card game rules guide will cover the following: 

  • What is Manni?
  • What you’ll need to play Manni
  • Manni card game rules
  • How to play Manni (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to Manni (our guides)

What is Manni?

Manni Card Game Info Image

Manni is a classic trick-taking card game, but with some specific twists that make it fun and intriguing for both beginners and seasoned players. 

The trickiest aspect of this game is that you only earn points once you’ve crossed a certain threshold. Therefore, earning enough points to win Manni can take quite a long time.

Number of Players: 3 players

Ages: 7 +

Difficulty: Easy

Length of Play: 20 – 50 minutes

Category: Trick-taking card game

Similar to: Whist, Oh Hell, Spades 

Main Objective: Be the first player to collect 10 points through winning tricks.

Why We Love It: In Manni, you can decide your fate right at the beginning by accepting or refusing the offer to change your cards. It gives this trick-taking card game an exciting twist!

What You’ll Need to Play Manni

Manni can be played with any standard 52-card deck. But before you start playing, sort out all the Twos (you’ll have 48 cards to play with).

Do not store the twos away yet, though. You’ll still need them, as I’ll explain shortly.

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Manni Card Game Rules and Gameplay

If you ask Icelanders about Manni, you’re likely to hear quite a few diverse interpretations of the game’s rules, often originating in different areas of this secluded Nordic country.

The version I explain in this guide is a basic, most commonly played, and probably the best internationally recognized Manni variation.

Starting the Game

First, decide on the dealer who will shuffle the cards thoroughly and deal 12 cards to each player in bundles of four. 

The remaining 12 cards form the so-called “manni” lying face-down in the center of the table. 

The trump suit changes with each new round following the firm order:

  • hearts
  • spades
  • diamonds
  • clubs

…and back to hearts, etc. To ensure that no one forgets which suit is trump for the current round, flip the Two of that suit face up and place it somewhere in plain sight.

The player to the dealer’s left opens the game.

How to Play Manni

The first player decides whether he wants to keep his hand or change it for the manni

If he declines to take advantage of this opportunity, the same offer is passed on to the remaining players in clockwise order. 

If any players accept this offer, they put down all or some of their cards and take the same number of cards from manni as a replacement. 

Otherwise, the game continues with the initially dealt cards.

Now the player sitting to the dealer’s left opens the first trick:

  • The player can choose any card to lead the trick.
  • The opponents must follow the leading suit, aiming to beat others with a higher-ranking card (cards are ranked from the lowest threes to the highest aces).
  • If a player does not have any cards of the leading suit, they can play a trump card or any other card. 
  • Trump cards beat all the other cards, and the higher-ranking trump card beats the lower-ranking one.
  • The player with the highest-ranking card wins the trick and leads a new one. 

The round ends when the players use up all their cards. Don’t forget to pick a new trump suit for the next round and flip over a corresponding Two.

Manni Scoring 

The goal of each player is to collect 10 points first, which means they win the game. The scores are counted after each round and noted on a piece of paper or a scorecard. 

Players can earn points only by taking tricks – 1 point per each trick ABOVE four tricks won in the given round. 

Scoring examples: 

  • A player won three tricks in the round. He does not earn any points.
  • A player won four tricks in the round. He does not gain any points.
  • A player won five tricks in the round. He earns 1 point for this round.
  • A player won seven tricks in the round. He earns 3 points for this round.

How to Play Manni – Video Tutorial 

Note: This video tutorial depicts a slightly different version of the game (Hornafjarðarmanni) that does not exclude twos, resulting in larger manni (16 cards).

Manni Frequently Asked Questions

Can you lose points in Manni?

Advanced players willing to make the game even trickier (and longer) can agree on deducting one point for each trick won under the threshold of four tricks.

So, if a player starts the round with five points and wins only three tricks, they will lose one of their points and continue with four points. 

When are you allowed to change your hand in Manni?

The only opportunity to change some or all of your cards comes at the beginning of the round. You cannot change your cards later during the game.

Can you change the trump suit in Manni?

Not in the classic game. There is a Manni variation, thought, called Trjámann, where a player to the dealer’s left can pick trump for the round.

Other Similar Games to Manni (Our Guides) 

How about trying some Manni alternatives, too? Check our guides to a few similar games below:

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