This is an ongoing project to collect rules for interesting games that can be
explained in no more than 100 words, and which (mostly) require no more than
a deck of cards, six dice and a pen and paper. Any ambiguities can be rehydrated through common sense (eg. if a game uses
points but specifies no winner, the most points win).
Remove 2s through 8s. Shuffle and deal the 24 cards as a face-up line, overlapping so that values are visible. Dealer chooses whether to play or pass. Players then take turns to claim one, two or three consecutive cards from the "top" end of the line, placing claimed cards in front of them. When the line's gone, total your score for claimed sets (3-of-a-kind = 3, 4-of-a-kind = 8) and sequences within a suit (3 scores 3, 4=4, 5=6, 6=12), then multiply it by the number of cards your opponent drew. If a single player scores nothing, swap scores.
by David Parlett
Deal five cards to each player, and one face-up to a discard pile. Take turns to either play an eligible card to the discard pile (one that shares a suit or value with the top card), or draw a card. Jokers can be played as any card. If a player breaks a rule, they draw a penalty card. When a player has one card left, they must say "Bartok". When they have no cards left, they win and openly invent an additional, unbiased rule for all future rounds, typically affecting eligible plays or adding effects for certain cards.
Deal out the deck equally; set aside leftovers face-down, to add to the final trick after it's won. Players either select a suit as their "bug" suit, or play "misère", announcing this simultaneously. Starting with the dealer, everyone plays a card, following suit if possible. Highest card of the starting suit wins the trick; winner takes the cards and leads the next trick. Score 10 per won trick, divided by the total number of "bug" cards you took, doubled if taking no bugs. Winning every trick scores a flat 100. Losing every trick scores 30, or 100 if playing misère.
by David Parlett
Deal 24 cards between players, and four cards face-up to the table. On your turn, play one card to the table. If it captures a face-up card (if their values sum to 10, or if they are both the same value above 9), claim both cards face-down in front of you. Then, deal a new card face-up and claim a capture with it if possible. When the deck's empty, score claimed red cards only: 1-8 at face, 9+ at 10 and aces at 20. (With 3+ players, ace of spades is 30; with 4, ace of clubs is 40.)
Include jokers. Deal four cards each, and one face-up as the centre of a 3x3 grid. Take turns to add one card, orthogonally adjacent to an existing card. After eight plays, Player 1 scores the highest-scoring row, Player 2 scores the highest-scoring column: a line scores its total face value (Queens 10 horizontal but 0 vertical, Kings vice versa, Jacks always 0), x2 if it has two cards of one suit, x3 for three in one colour, x5 for three of one suit. A line with a joker ("vampire") scores zero. Play six rounds.
by David Parlett
Give one player the spade cards and the other clubs (if there's a third player, give them hearts). Shuffle the diamonds and reveal them one at a time. For each diamond, each player secretly bids a card of their choice from their hand - the highest bid (if any) takes the diamond, and bid cards are discarded. In a tie, the diamond is discarded. Highest diamond total wins.
Deal six piles of four cards to each player (four piles for three players), and four cards face-up into a middle row. Play is simultaneous: players swap cards from their piles with cards from the middle row, but may only pick up one pile at a time, and swap one card at a time. If all of a player's piles contain four matching cards, they call "James Bond" and win.
Use the Jack, Queen and King from any three suits. Shuffle and deal four cards each, and one face-down to the table. Take turns to either: guess the face-down card (you win if you are right, you lose if wrong) or play a card from your hand face-up to the table and ask your opponent either how many cards they have of that suit, or how many of that rank. Players must answer truthfully, but may lie once per game. Suspected lies may be challenged; if correct, the challenger wins, if mistaken they lose.
by René Wiersma
Deal five cards per player. One player thinks up a secret rule regarding legal plays (eg. "cannot play a club onto a heart"). Players take turns to play one card into a middle pile; if you break a secret rule, the player who invented the rule informs you that you have done this (without explaining the rule) and hands your card back, you draw one penalty card and your turn ends. First to empty their hand wins the round, and invents an additional secret rule for the next. With two players, both create a rule in the first round.
Discard 2s through 6s and deal out the remainder; put any leftovers
into a discard pile and announce their total. Take turns to play a card
to the discard pile and announce the new total of the pile. (Aces are
worth 11, Kings 4, Queens plus or minus 3, Jacks 2 and other cards at
face value.) The "obstacles" are 55, 66, 77, 88, 99 and 111: score 1
point for hitting an obstacle, lose 1 point for skipping over one in
either direction. If the total exceeds 120, reset it to zero. Continue
until all cards have been played.
by Jürgen Göring
Each player has 1-10 and the Jack ("Ohio") of a single suit. The first player plays any card. Going clockwise, each player must either play a lower card, or retire from the round. Ohios are counted as 0.1 less than the previous played card. Repeat until all but one player has passed; that player wins the cards on the table and leads the next round, unless any player has no cards, in which case the game ends. Score total face value of won cards, minus face value of cards in hand; Ohios score -10 wherever they are.
by Reiner Knizia
Prepare a deck of the numbers 1 through 9 for as many suits as there are players. Shuffle and deal nine cards each, and allow players to sort their hands. Play is then simultaneous: any player may offer a trade of a specific number of cards ("Two! Two!"), and if an opponent accepts, both swap that number of cards, unseen. Cards handed over in a trade must all be of the same suit. If a player has nine cards of the same suit, they win. Optionally: add a king (a wildcard) and a joker (cannot win while held).
by Edgar Cayce (adapted)
Deal five cards to the starting player, who examines them privately and announces a poker hand, optionally naming specific cards (eg. "a pair" or "pair of nines and a six"). They may lie. The next player either challenges the call or takes the hand. If they challenge, reveal and discard the hand: the challenge loser takes a penalty point and starts a new round. If they take the hand, they may discard (face-down) and redraw up to four cards, then claim a higher poker hand for the next player to judge. Play to a pre-agreed penalty total.
Aces are high; 2s and 3s are higher than aces. For each hand, deal 3 cards to each player. Over three rounds, players take turns to play one card; highest wins and starts the next round. Best of three rounds wins the hand, first to win 5 hands wins the game. Before playing a card, a player may call "I put": opponent must either throw in their cards (calling player wins the hand) or announce that they are "seeing", playing out the current hand with its winner winning the entire game (if drawn, continue play instead).
Deal ten cards each (seven for 3/4 players, six for 5/6) and one face-up to the discard pile. On your turn: draw a card from the top of the deck or discard pile; optionally play one "meld" (3+ cards of a rank, or a consecutive run of 3+ in a suit) onto the table; optionally add cards from your hand to expand any melds; discard one card (but not one you drew from the discards this turn). When your hand's empty you win and score the total face value of cards in opponents' hands (face cards are worth 10).
Six Card Golf
Deal each player a 3x2 grid of face-down cards, one face-up as the discards. Players flip two of their cards face up and cannot examine the others. Take turns to: draw a card from deck or discards, then either place it face-up replacing one of your cards (discarding the replaced card), or discard it. Round ends when a player has six cards face-up. Score: king = 0, jack/queen = 10, 2 = -2, all other cards at face value. A pair of equal cards in a column are discarded without scoring. Lowest score after nine rounds wins.
So Long Sucker
Players have open hands of seven cards of their own suit. On your turn: play one card as a new face-up stack, or onto an existing stack. If a stack has two consecutive same-suit cards, that suit's player discards any card from that stack, takes the rest, and takes the next turn; otherwise you choose someone with no cards in that stack (if it had all four, pick the lowest down) to play next. Players may discard or gift opponent-suit cards from their hand at any time. If you can't play you're eliminated, play returning to the previous player.
Each round, deal three cards to each player, and three face-up onto the table. Taking turns, each player may either pass, knock or draw a card from the table and replace it with one from their hand. If all players pass, the table cards are discarded and three replacements laid out. If a player knocks, all other players get one more turn and the round ends: each player picks a suit and totals the value of cards in their hand with that suit (three of a kind are instead worth 30½). Lowest scorer loses one of four lives.
One player is hearts, the other clubs. Shuffle those suits together (minus the aces) and deal out into a 5x5 grid with a hole in the middle. Each turn, use one of your cards to remove an opponent's card with a higher value in the same row or column, your card replacing the removed one. When no further moves are possible, the highest card wins, scoring as many points as its face value. (If tied, player who made the last move wins.) Play to 30 points.
by Stephen Sniderman
Verish' Ne Verish'
For a 2/3 player game, remove 2s through 5s. Remove one random card from the deck. Deal the remainder out. Each turn, play one to three cards face-down and announce them (eg. "two sevens"). The next player either accepts or challenges; if they accept, they take their turn, naming the same card rank; if they challenge, played cards are revealed, the loser draws the discard pile, may optionally discard a single four-of-a-kind, and play continues to the loser's left, naming any rank. Retire when your hand's empty; last player remaining loses.