Sheepshead, or Schafkopf, is a trick-taking card game originating in Germany. Many years ago, four drunk Germans were sitting around. They had trashed a couple of decks of cards, so they combined them, made up some really silly rules, and invented Pinnocle. Then another buddy came along. They had a few pints of schnaps, and invented Sheepshead. As far as I know, the game is only played in Germany and Wisconsin. Anyone else who plays has spent some time in one of those two places.
A short deck of 32 cards is used, consisting of the 7s through the Aces. Diamonds are always trump, as are all Queens and all Jacks. Queens are the highest, then Jacks, then Ace, 10, King, 9, 8, 7 of diamonds. Now, you would think that the Queen of Diamonds would be the highest ranking queen. Wrong. The order of the queens is Clubs, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds. Jacks go in the same order Fail suits are in the A-10-K-9-8-7 order.
The most popular version of the game has five players. Each person gets six cards, with the remaining two in the 'blind'. The person to the left of the dealer gets the first choice of the blind. If he picks them up, he is on the offense. He chooses two cards from his hand to 'bury'. The picker then calls for the person with the Ace in one of the fail suits - clubs, spades, hearts - to be his partner. If the first person passes, the second person gets to choose, and so on. If no one chooses to be on offense, then points are doubled for the next hand. Partner does not declare himself, rather lets it come out in the play of the hand.
The person to the left of the dealer plays first; he may play any card in his hand. Players play in order to his left, following suit if possible. If you do not have that suit, you may trump, but you do not have to. The highest card out takes the trick
There are two kinds of points: hand points and game points. Hand points are determined by the cards taken in the tricks. Aces are worth 11, 10s are worth ten, Kings are worth four; Queens, three; and Jacks, two. No points for 7-8-9. Thus, there are 120 total hand points. For offense to win, they must take 61 points. If they do, the picker receives two game points, his partner receives one game point, and the three defenders each lose one game point. If the offense takes 91 or more points, the numbers are doubled. If offense takes all of the tricks, the numbers are tripled. If offense loses, they lose those amounts. If offense takes 30 or fewer points, they lose double that amount. If offense does not take a trick, then they loose three times that amount. Game points are accumulated over the course of the playing time, usually all night.
Sheepshead has as many options, or house rules, as it does cards. There are some back-water places that have Clubs as trump. One popular option is that the person with the Jack of Diamonds is automatically partner. Most people play that if someone picks in front of you and you are on defense and think defense will win, you can 'rap' them by hitting the table with your knuckles, doubling the stakes. The picker, or his partner, has the right to 're-rap'. Some people play that if you have both black queens, both red queens, or all four jacks, you can rap for no reason. This is variously called a black blitz-crack, a red blitz-crack, or a jack blitz-crack. Most people play that if the offensive team loses, the stakes are doubled. Most groups of regular players start making up their own rules.
When all players pass, there are three basic options. First, the stakes for the next hand can be doubled, called a Doubler. Second, you can play a 'leaster'. In a leaster, all players are on their own. The person who takes the least number of points, while taking at least one trick, wins one point from each of the other players. The third option is a 'moster'. In a moster, all players are on their own. The person who takes the most points pays each of the other players one point. If that unlucky person takes more than 60 points, they pay each of the other players two points. For both the leaster and the moster, the dealer decides which trick or tricks take the blind cards. So, you might think you have a great leaster trick with only one king on it for points, but if the blind goes on that trick and the blind has two aces in it, you end up with 26 points.