The object of the game is to avoid taking points. The rules for Stardeck Hearts are the same as standard Hearts, except that the Stars suit is Trump. At the start of play, all cards are dealt out, according to the number of players, as follows:
- 3 players – Each player is dealt 21 cards, with 2 cards remaining undealt.
- 4 players – Each player is dealt 16 cards, with 1 card remaining undealt.
- 5 players – Each player is dealt 13 cards, with no cards remaining undealt.
- 6 players – Each player is dealt 10 cards, with 5 cards remaining undealt.
After dealing, if there are any undealt cards remaining, the Dealer has the option of discarding an equal number of non-point cards (any card except Hearts or the Queen of Spades) and taking the undealt cards. If the Dealer passes, the next player is given the same choice, until a player chooses to make the exchange or everyone passes back to the dealer again. If all players pass, then the Dealer must make the exchange. No one may look at the undealt cards before the exchange, and the cards which are discarded are put aside face-down, and may not be looked at by any player. At this point, play proceeds the same as with standard Hearts, with the following exceptions:
- If a player has no cards of the suit led, and plays a card of the Stars suit, that card will take the trick.
- If more than one Stars card is played on the same trick, the highest Stars will take the trick.Play continues until all tricks have been taken.
Scoring is the same as for standard Hearts:
- Each Heart is worth 1 point.
- The Queen of Spades is worth 13 points.
- No Exchange – Instead of exchanging the undealt cards, you can choose instead to remove excess cards before the deal, as follows:
- 3 players – Remove the Two of Clubs and Two of Diamonds before dealing. The Three of Clubs leads the first hand.
- 4 players – Remove the Two of Clubs before dealing. The Three of Clubs leads the first hand.
- 5 players – No cards are removed before dealing. The Two of Clubs leads the first hand.
- 6 players – Remove the Two from each suit (Clubs, Diamond, Spades, Hearts and Trump) before dealing. The Three of Clubs leads the first hand, and the Ace of Hearts is worth 2 points.
- Anti-Trump. When playing with 3 or 6 players, you can include a Joker, instead of exchanging undealt cards or removing cards. The Joker is played as an Anti-Trump card, with the following properties:
- The Joker never takes a trick, under any circumstances.
- The Joker is considered to have no suit, and can thus be played only when the player has no cards of the suit led.
- The Joker can not be led, unless the player has no other cards. If this happens, the next player can play any card which could be legally led, and that card determines the suit of the trick.
- The Joker has no point value.
- Blind Trick. Instead of exchanging cards or removing cards, the undealt cards can be placed face-down on the table, and are taken as part of the first trick.
Thank you to C. Scott Davis.