Friday, April 15, 2016

chats no longer blocked

I got several emails from players that the chats of the player to their right were blocked by the scoreboard in Spades after the update of April 10 that allowed cards to be fanned wider.

This should be fixed now. Thanks to those who reported this, and let me know if you notice any other problems!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

rankings added to spades card game

Ranked games have been added to Spades!

You will only be ranked if you choose to play a ranked game, which is shown in purple in the list of tables. Here's an example:
ranked tables are purple in the list of tables
Ranked tables are more strict than regular ones:
  1. You must be registered and have finished at least 10 games to get into one.
  2. You cannot start a game with bots! They can be invited if someone leaves, however.
  3. If you quit, and do not return within 2 minutes, you are banned from ranked Spades games for 4 hours.
  4. Quitting counts as a loss to your Elo rating. If you quit, you take a loss to your two opponents. (The Elo rating of the quitter's teammate is computed independent of this - it depends entirely on whether their team wins or loses, as long as they stick to the end of the game).
The idea is to make ranked tables a little more serious than regular ones. People who enter a ranked game should be committed to sticking to the game, and not quitting at the drop of a hat.

Note: Since Spades is a team game, Elo ratings are computed as if you are participating in two matches, one against each opponent. You are not ranked against your teammate.

BTW you can also get to ranked games from the Spades menu. Click the "Menu" button at the lower right of the Spades game panel, and then click the "Play Ranked Spades" link to be taken to a ranked table:
get to ranked tables using the Menu button
In addition to ranked games, the update this morning applied some more changes. Trick cards can now be piled vertically. And the cards are fanned wider in Hearts, Spades, and Double Deck Pinochle. I hope these additions will make it easier to use the site. Feedback is welcome.

cards fanned wider in Spades, Hearts, and Double Deck Pinochle

The cards in your hand are now fanned wider in Hearts, Spades, and Double Deck Pinochle. Also, the chat button and chat input are moved closer to your avatar. Here's the new view:
For comparison, here's the previous look:

There are two settings for fanning your cards. I had some feedback that people were misclicking cards because the cards were not clear and separate enough on smaller screens. This change is intended to help with that.

This also helps an issue that was plaguing Double Deck Pinochle players. This game starts with 20 cards in your hand, and the chat bubble would obscure a few of these if you chatted early on in the hand. With your chat bubble moved way over to the left, this should be less of a problem now.
Chat bubble in Double Deck Pinochle
Different card decks have different dimensions, so you may want to try using a new deck if your current one doesn't look as good with the new view.

cards in the trick pile can be set vertically

There's a new setting that lets you see the cards in the trick pile lined up vertically, like this:
Trick cards piled vertically
It's off by default. To turn it on, click on your username in the upper right corner to get to your settings. Check the box for "Pile Cards Vertically", and you'll see it take effect immediately:
Pile Cards Vertically user setting

The default way that the trick cards are piled up can sometimes obscure the card rank. I hope this helps with that problem.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

server update, new features

The server was updated this morning. Sorry for the outage while this was done!

The update applied several improvements:
  1. Twenty-Nine now has the Double / Redouble Option
  2. Double Deck Pinochle players can download hand histories
  3. Gin Rummy players can see the size of the stock pile
In addition, the site uses a new audio library that works on more devices. I have an Android tablet where alerts are now audible, so this is an improvement for Android users, at least. [Edit Mar 12 2016: I want to mention that this library breaks the site for versions of the web browser Opera that are earlier than 11.60. Sorry! But that is a pretty old version of Opera, from Dec 2011. Please upgrade if you are using this browser. Thank you to Doriano for bringing this to my attention!]

Players at ranked Hearts tables now have a 2-minute grace period to return to their table if they get disconnected, causing them to leave the table (note that this does not apply if you click the "leave table" link - if you do this, you will be warned of the penalty, and it does apply). If you've ever been frustrated because you were kicked from a ranked Hearts table due to an internet disruption, I hope this helps. Note that the remaining players at the table are free to call on a bot to replace you during the 2-minute grace period. However, as soon as you return to the site, you will replace that bot, provided it is within 2 minutes of your leaving.

At all games, it has sometimes been a problem that a player would hit the backspace button, intending to erase a character in their chat, but it got interpreted as telling the browser to "go back" to the previous page. It would get you kicked from your table unless you returned to the site very quickly! With today's update, the backspace button is ignored unless it's used within a text input field. I hope this problem is solved, now.

Power Pinochle hand history now available

In Euchre and Spades, you can download a hand history. The file can be used to replay the hand of cards that you most recently played.
Now, a similar feature comes to Double Deck Pinochle at World of Card Games. It's a little different though. The people over at Power Pinochle have developed several tools for learning Pinochle. One of them is called the hand animator. Since they've already got this tool in place, I created the Pinochle hand histories so that they can be used together with their free, online tool.

To get your hand history, wait till the hand has finished. You will see a "Power Pinochle" icon appear next to your nameplate (note: this feature is only available to Registered users). Click the icon to download the text file that contains the hand history:
Click Power Pinochle icon to get your hand history
Once you have the history file, just copy the content into the hand animator textbox and hit the Submit button, and then you can follow the gameplay step-by-step.

The hand animator is loaded with a sample history to start, so you can try it out immediately without having to download a hand history. If you have any trouble at all with this, just write to me and I will help.

By the way, since hand histories were introduced, I've had lots of good tips from Euchre players who have sent me hand histories that showed problems with the bot strategies. I really appreciate that! I've implemented a number of changes to make the bots better, based on these bug reports. If you see the bots do something silly in Pinochle, grab the hand history and send it to me, and let me know what went wrong. I hope I can improve the bots for Pinochle this way, too.

new twenty-nine option for double / redouble

The Double / Redouble Option has been added to the Twenty-Nine card game at World of Card Games!

Double / Redouble is described at Pagat as a popular variation of the game, and I've had several requests to add it. It works like this: the opponents of the team that declared trump have a chance to say "double" after trump is chosen. Then if the declarers do not make their bid, they will lose 2 game points instead of 1. If they do make their bid, they will win 2!

The declarers can respond with "redouble". If they do not make their bid, they will lose 4 game points. If they do make their bid, they win 4!

It only takes one player on a team to declare "double" or "redouble" - either player can do it.

The Double / Redouble Option is turned on by default. If you start a table using the default options, then Double / Redouble applies. If you do not want to play with this option, you will need to set the radio button for "Allow Double-Redouble" to "No" in your Options settings.
Double Redouble option for Twenty-Nine card game

Tables which use this new option are designated with "drt" (it stands for "Double Redouble Twenty-Nine") in the list of tables. Tables with the Seventh Card option are shown designated with "sct".) In the screenshot of the list of tables below, the Twenty-Nine table has both of these options applied, and a single Guest is sitting at it:

Table having Seventh Card and Double Redouble options applied