Soar Through the Skies With Trick-Taking Game Sandbag | Casual Game Revolution

Soar Through the Skies With Trick-Taking Game Sandbag


Avoid winning as many cards as you can, in this trick-taking card game where the trump suit can change between tricks.

Published by Bézier Games, Sandbag is a 30-minute card game for 3-6 players, involving hot air balloons, sandbags, and rocket ships!


The goal of Sandbag is to win as few tricks as possible. At the start of each round, the deck is divided between all players. Each player then passes one card to the player on his left and one to the player on his right. Next, each person chooses one card to play face-down as his sandbag card. Everyone then chooses two cards to play face-up to form their baskets. You will never play cards from your own basket.

The starting player plays one card to the center of the table to begin a trick. He may play any card from his hand, his face-down sandbag card, or swap any card from his hand with a face-up card from another player’s basket. If he does the latter, he must then play the basket card, and the card he swapped it with goes face-down. Other players then take turns playing a card face-up into the trick. If you have a card in hand that is the same color as the card played by the start player, you must follow suit (or play your face-down sandbag card or a rocket card). However, if you only have one card of that color or none at all, you may choose to swap it out with a card from another player’s basket (again immediately playing the card from the basket, and the card you are replacing it with going face-down).

The highest card of the starting suit (or trump suit if one was played) wins the trick. Sandbags never win a trick. The player who wins the trick takes the cards and places them in his score pile. That player will then play the first card of the next trick. Before a new trick is started, players always check to see what the trump suit currently is. To determine this, players look at all face-up cards currently in baskets, and the suit that appears the most times is the trump suit for the next trick. If it is a tie, the values of the tied suits are added up, and the suit with the highest combined value will be the trump.

After all cards have been played from players’ hands and their sandbag cards, the round ends and points are calculated. A player earns one point for each card he has in his score pile and any face-down cards in his basket. A player also earn points equal to the values of any face-up cards still in his basket. Finally, players lose points (five or seven, depending on player count) for any rocket cards they have.

Players then set up for a new round. At the start of rounds two and three, each player chooses an additional card from his hand to be an extra sandbag card for every 10 points he has scored. The player with the lowest number of points after three rounds wins the game.

Sandbag Components


When you first look at the box of Sandbag it appears to be a light, easy-to-learn card game, but as you start reading the rules you begin to ask yourself ‘well, how is this going to work’? Sandbag is definitely a game that needs to be played through at least once to fully grasp exactly how the rules and players will be interacting with one another. It forces players to think along different lines than those found in most trick-taking games, and the result is a blend of luck, strategy, and reading people.

Players can track what cards have been played, but there there’s more of an element of the unknown, since there are several face-down cards that never get flipped until scoring. Players can try manipulate or affect tricks based on the cards they add to their baskets, especially when taking into account the way these in turn influence the trump suit.

There are a few rules that get into the weeds a bit. When players can swap cards, for example, is a bit involved, but there are player aid cards that summarize this information, which was a thoughtful touch on the part of the designers.

Sandbag does have a bit more ‘unknown’ information than many other trick-taking games, but this does make it feel different. You often want to think several tricks ahead to avoid being stuck with winning multiple tricks in a row, particularly near the end of the hand. The extra sandbags based on score are also a helpful, balanced little boost for a player who is doing badly or simply had bad luck in the deal. Overall, Sandbag is an interesting trick-taker that has a lot more going on than might appear at first glance.

Pros: Feels different from other trick-takers, player aid cards for the more complicated rules, player interaction through their basket cards

Cons: Some fans of the genre may dislike the amount of unknown for a trick-taking game, a couple of the rules are a little involved

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.