The game of Hearts dates back to around 1850 and derives from older games of skill where one had to try to avoid taking certain cards. It has now become one of the most popular card games. Computer Hearts is usually designed for four players per game (though in real-life card play the game can accommodate anything from 3 to 7 players).
The main objective of the game is to try to get the fewest points by avoiding winning any tricks including a Heart and the Queen of Spades. There's just one exception... and that provides a special challenge: a player may manage to embrace the Queen and shoot the moon by winning all 13 Hearts plus the Queen of Spades! The game ends if a player's total score reaches or exceeds 100 points after the tricks. The player with the fewest points becomes the winner of the game.
Sounds interesting? There are many tutorials available for the game. A simple guide on the rules of the game is here if you do not already know how to play the game.
Some but not all versions of Windows come with a Hearts game program pre-installed. Either way, you may like these freely available Hearts games, some of which are designed to go one better than the Windows program.
Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
Hardwood Hearts is one of the recommendable free products for the Hearts game. If you are new to the game, learn to play with its in-game tutorials.
This application comes with unique graphic design, full of color, sound and visual effects, such as flip-and-turn of the playing cards, etc. You choose to play with computer opponents or with people from around the world over the Internet connecting to its online game server.
On the down side, the free version of this program is limited to one avatar, one difficulty level and some other restrictions. It requires you to upgrade to a full version if you need additional features.
DreamQuest Free Hearts is another alternative with good design. It offers three levels of skill. The players in the game are represented by virtual characters, rather than just by user names as in the Windows version. This makes the game more vivid and interesting to play. The program comes with good sound effects, sharp graphics and exciting game variations to enrich the gaming experience.
It emulates real-life play by allowing you to select a card to cut the deck before you start a hand. You can also choose to play the game in tutorial mode, complete with a comprehensive help file on 'Rules' and 'How to Play Hearts'.
However, this program does not allow you to play the game online. It also adds a Free Hearts Toolbar to your browser during installation; but the toolbar can be disabled. A pro version is available if you need more skill levels.
If you like to play Hearts with different sets of rules, Thanos Hearts is a good choice. The program allows you to set the Jack of Diamonds to be a bonus card or set the hearts suit to carry points based on spot numbers. You can play in partnerships or vary some of the rules of play such as allowing Hearts to lead, etc.
The beauty of this program is that it includes the British and Greek versions of Hearts. In the British version of Hearts, called Black Maria (and loosely known as Dirty Lady or even Slippery Bitch), the King and Ace of Spades carry additional points. Black Maria is usually played by 3 people, in which case the program removes the Two of Clubs and deals 17 cards to each player. If you choose the 4-handed option, all the cards are dealt out.
The Greek version of Hearts is known as Koupes and requires a different game strategy since you're never allowed to play a point card (a Heart or the Queen of Spades) unless you have no choice. There is no initial card passing.
Thanos Hearts runs in full screen without virtual characters or different levels of skill. Your hand as dealt will be unsorted, so be advised to press "R" to reorder them properly.
Hearts Game for Linux
Gnome Hearts is a free and open source program designed for Linux with the GNOME Desktop Environment. It runs in full screen or windowed.
The application has various rule sets including Standard, Spot Hearts, Omnibus or Omnibus Alternative—not only that you can play the Queen of Spades to shoot the moon, but also play the Jack of Diamonds as a bonus card to shoot the sun. What's more, each rule set can be configured with certain play rules too, a plus for this free program.
Other features include score boards, hints, configurable backgrounds and card styles, but the feature of redo/undo moves has not been implemented for the version under review. Besides, the program does not support network play or sound effects.
Go to a website and play Hearts online
One option is to go to Yahoo! Games - Hearts. All you need is a Yahoo ID (and you don't have to install any game software on your computer).
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DreamQuest Free Hearts
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