You booked the idyllic little cabin in the woods. There’s a nice little fire going in the 19th-century fireplace. The natural wine is flowing. And the sweaters and blankets have been taken out of storage. Yep. It’s peak cozy time. Even if that idyllic little cabin in the woods is plugged into some high-speed WiFi, let’s face it, any type of screen time would simply ruin the mood. This ambiance calls for a deck of cards and some intense gameplay to joyfully pass the off-grid hours. But what game to play? Might we suggest: euchre.
Pronounced yew-ker, this card game has roots all over the world but remains popular in the U.S. Midwest—especially in Michigan. In fact, Michigan Radio named the Mitten State “the buckle of the ‘Euchre Belt,’” which includes Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It also has legs in Canada, specifically Ontario. So don’t be surprised if your friend from Upstate New York knows how to play, too.
So what is euchre exactly?
Well, it’s four-person game with two players on each team. Only 24 cards—the nines, tens, jacks, queens, kings and aces—are used, with the point of trying to win a “trick” based on the round’s designated trump suit. Rack up the most tricks with your partner, win the game. Of course, there's a bit more to it than that. And since it’s harder to explain than actually play, we suggest watching some tutorials or hitting up your friend from the Upper Peninsula for some tips.
Why euchre? Why not poker or bridge or go-fish?
Well, first off, congrats if you know how to play the ultra-complicated bridge. Euchre is more straightforward, and therefore wayyyy easier to learn (and for kids to learn too!). But more importantly, it’s our pick for a cozy night with friends and family because of its team-play. As Jason Boog writes in his piece “The People’s Card Game,” euchre is difficult to translate to the internet (as opposed to a game like poker): “The problem is that it is tremendously difficult to design AI that can cooperate with the finesse of a great euchre partner.” The game is almost uniquely fitted to create real-life, analogue fun along with human connection. Boog sums it up quite elegantly, “Euchre passes idle time with real people in real life, a kind of loafing that feels as endangered as any card game.”
So grab three friends, pare your deck down to 24 cards and strap in to pass the time sans screens.