King

Four king playing cards

King is a trick-taking card game for four players. A game of King consists of ten hands. During the first six hands, players lose points if they capture certain tricks or tricks containing certain cards. These conditions change on each hand. During the last four hands, players score points by either capturing tricks or not capturing them, as determined by the dealer.

King is played throughout the world, especially in Europe, Russia, and South America. It’s unclear where it ultimately originated from, though; despite the English name “King”, it is not well known in any English-speaking countries.

Object of King

The object of King is to have the most points after ten hands. For the first six hands, players avoid capturing tricks to avoid negative scores. For the last four hands, players scored points by capturing tricks, or avoiding them, depending on the rules decided by the dealer.

Setup

To play King, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. To provide your players with the best game-night experience they’ve ever had, though, you’ll need a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper or a smartphone app.

Choose the first dealer randomly by shuffling the deck and dealing cards one at a time, face up, until a player receives the king of hearts. That player is the first dealer. Shuffle and deal thirteen cards (face down) to each player, dealing out the entire deck.

Game play

On each hand, game play follows much the same formula, though the goal and thus the players’ strategies are different on each hand. The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player in turn plays a card to the trick of the same suit, if they have one; otherwise, they may play any card. After all four have played, whoever played the highest card of the trump suit, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played, takes the trick. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high.

Whoever takes the trick takes the four cards in it and places them in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of them. For some hands, it is necessary to know how many tricks each player has taken; on these hands the tricks should be placed at right angles to each other to keep them separated. The player that captured the last trick then leads to the next one.

After thirteen tricks, the hand is over. The score is then computed according to the rules of the hand.

The negative hands

The first six hands of the game are called the negative hands. The one thing all of these hands have in common is that there is no way to score positive points. Rather, on each hand, one or more players will lose points by taking tricks or tricks containing certain cards. The scoring for each hand, in order, is as follows:

  1. −20 for each trick captured
  2. −20 for each heart captured
  3. −50 for each queen captured
  4. −30 for each king or jack captured
  5. −160 for capturing the K♥
  6. −90 for capturing each of the last two tricks

There are no trumps during the negative hands. After the sixth hand, the four players’ scores should total −1,300.

The positive hands

After the six negative hands are the four positive hands. Players have the opportunity to score positive points on these hands. On some hands, players may score for capturing tricks, while on others, they may be rewarded for avoiding doing so.

The dealer decides whether they would like to designate one of the four suits as the trump suit, play with no trump, or auction the right to choose trumps to the other three players. If they choose to auction, the player to the dealer’s left starts the bidding with some number of tricks. Each player in turn then may either bid higher than the previous high bid, or pass. The dealer is skipped. Once there have been two consecutive passes, the high bidder gets the right to name the trump suit, or declare no trump.

After the trump suit has been determined, the dealer (not the winner of the bidding) chooses whether the game will be played playing up or playing down. If the game is played up, then capturing each trick scores a player 25 points. If the game is played down, each player starts with a hand score of 325 points, and 75 points are deducted for each trick captured. Note that a player can still have a negative hand score if they capture more than four tricks!

The hand is then played out. After the thirteen tricks have been played, each player counts the number of tricks they captured. If the dealer auctioned off the right to name trumps, then the high bid is deducted from the bidders’ trick count and added to that of the dealer. The scores are then calculated from these adjusted trick totals.

Ending the game

After the four positive hands, whoever has the most positive points wins the game.

The total hand score for the four positive hands is 325 points per hand, or 1,300 points altogether. This cancels out the −1,300 points scored across the six negative hands. Thus, the scores can be checked by adding all of the players’ scores together at the end of the game and ensuring that they balance (the sum is zero).

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5 score-keeping apps, reviewed

Some card games are simple affairs of winning by playing the best on a single hand. Most games, however, minimize the luck of the draw by making the winner demonstrate effective play across a series of hands. To do this, players must keep a running tally of how well each player has done: the score.

Keeping score has been a part of card games for centuries. Some games lend themselves to a “hard score” method whereby money or tokens are exchanged between the players. Cribbage notably utilizes a board where pegs track the players’ scores. However, the majority of games keep score through a simple numerical total. For most of the history of card games, this was done through simple pencil-and-paper arithmetic. By the 1980s, electronic calculators made it easier, but the actual scores were still done on paper.

Pencil-and-paper scoring leaves a lot to be desired. Unless the scorekeeper is notably quick at mental math, calculating the new score after each hand takes time out of the game. It’s easy to make a math error when computing scores. Worse, a cheater could “accidentally” fudge the score to shave points off their opponent’s scores, or add points to their own, and probably get away with it. Nobody’s perfect, after all!

In the 21st century, of course, just about everyone has a portable computer in their pocket. Putting your phone or tablet to work as your scorekeeper helps to speed up the game and keep the scores more accurate. A well-designed scorekeeping app can free you of the pencil-and-paper approach for good. We took a look at five of them to give you a preview of what to expect from each of them, should you decide to give them a try.

We don’t have anything to do with the developers of these apps and haven’t even been in contact with them. Prices below are as of January 2020, and are quoted in United States dollars.

ScoreKeeper Free

A screenshot of ScoreKeeper Free

ScoreKeeper Free by Imagenuity is the only scorekeeping app we reviewed that works on both Android and iOS. It comes in a free version that supports up to four players and 20 “rows”. Each player has one score in each row, representing a single hand or scoring event.

The nice thing about ScoreKeeper Free is that the row interface is pretty intuitive. You can either enter scores by typing them in digit-by-digit, or using a quick-entry interface that allows you enter ±1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 point scores at the touch of a button. It does mean that you have to either have the rows misaligned or else leave zeroes in games where players are not guaranteed to score at the same time. Having 20 rows to work with is probably plenty enough for most games, but the limitation could be easily worked around by recording the totals after 20 rows as the first row on a new game.

ScoreKeeper Free has a number of fonts and background colors you can use to customize it to your liking. I find the default Komika handwriting font charming, but you can also set it to be Helvetica, Times, Courier, or a narrow sans-serif font if you prefer.

The bad thing about ScoreKeeper Free is that it comes with ads. The banner ad at the bottom isn’t too intrusive, especially since you’ll probably be looking at the game more than you will your device anyway. Unfortunately, it does have pop-up ads too. It wasn’t immediately clear what triggers them, so it’s easy to accidentally touch an ad while trying to enter a score.

Imagenuity does offer a premium version called ScoreKeeper Bacon, which is 99¢. It removes the ads and allows up to 99 players and 99 rows. If you play a game for which the row interface works well, it’s very reasonably priced.


Score Counter

Score Counter screenshot

Score Counter by Martin Váňa is a free scorekeeping app for Android. It has no ads and no premium version as far as I could find.

Like ScoreKeeper Free, Score Counter also uses a simple, row-based interface. However, Score Counter is a lot more strict about it. You have to enter each player’s score in turn order, and you cannot skip over a player; you have to enter a zero if they didn’t score. This is no big deal for games where players only score at the end of a hand, but it would be pretty frustrating to use in games where only one player scores on each hand, or players score at different times throughout the hand.

One nice feature about Score Counter is that it allows you to run multiple games concurrently, and name them. Once a game is finished, you can review the scoresheet from the list of games. Starting a new game allows you to quickly re-use players that were part of previous games. Each player can be color-coded, which is a nice touch.


Keep Score GameKeeper

Keep Score GameKeeper by Aaron Orr is a full-featured scorekeeping app for iOS. This app uses an interface where each player’s total score is shown. You touch each player’s name to add a new scoring event. Each prior scoring event is still stored, and the user can edit these as well.

Keep Score GameKeeper has some interesting extra features. One that may be of use to card players is the “Player Picker” feature, which simply chooses one of the players at random. This could be used for selecting first dealer or randomizing partnerships. Other features that could be useful for other games but aren’t likely to be needed in card games are a countdown timer and a buzzer button. It reminded me a lot of the buzzer from Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The nice thing about Keep Score GameKeeper is that it’s ad-free. It also has no limit on players or scoring events as far as I could tell. Unfortunately, you can only start a new game (zero out the scores) once. Then, it’ll cost you 99¢ for ten new games or $3.99 for infinite new games. It’s a nice app, and $3.99 might be worth it if you like the interface or the extra features, but its competition on iOS is pretty strong, so you can get a lot of the same stuff for less money with other apps.


Score!! Crowd

Score!! Crowd screenshot

Score!! Crowd by Hedgehog Digital was the the first scorekeeping app I downloaded years ago. It used to be called Score+ Free. It is available for iOS only.

Score!! Crowd allows you to have an unlimited number of players and scoring events. One useful feature is that the scores are shown in turn order on the left side of the screen, and on the right is a “Standings” list that shows the players in order by score. (There is a “Low Score Wins Game” option for games like Hearts that makes the standings sort from low to high.) Like Score Counter, it allows you to run multiple named games at once. There is also a timer function.

You can score by touching each player’s name, or by using the “Prev” and “Next” buttons to cycle through players in turn order. However, this is the only app we reviewed that doesn’t keep track of each score event individually for later review or editing. Only the total scores are tracked, which may be a deal-breaker for some players. The techie aesthetic of the interface does come on a little strong. While I don’t mind it, it may be a bit much for some people’s taste.

Score!! Crowd does contain ads. There is both a banner across the bottom of the screen, and pop-ups. However, I only encountered the pop-up while creating a new game, so you can at least anticipate it to avoid touching any undesirable ad.

There is a premium version, just called Score!! It’s a bit of a pain to find on the App Store, because searching for it brings up tons of credit score and sports apps. (I found it by bringing up Score!! Crowd and touching the developer’s name to show their other apps.) Score!! is 99¢ and removes the ads, but otherwise is identical to Score!! Crowd.


Score Keeper 2020

Score Keeper 2020 screenshot

Score Keeper 2020 by Tanner Morse is another full-featured scorekeeping app only available on iOS. It’s very similar to Keep Score GameKeeper in terms of the features it includes.

Score Keeper 2020 lets you run multiple named games with unlimited players. It allows you to add new score events, and review and edit past score events by touching a player’s name. The app has a “Rounds” counter by each player’s score that shows the number of scoring events. This is helpful to make sure everyone’s had their score input for a hand, but is out of the way enough to be ignored if it’s not relevant to the game you’re playing.

Score Keeper 2020 includes a random player selector like Keep Score GameKeeper, that could be used for the same purposes. It also includes a timer. One handy feature is that the player overview screen can be sorted, cycling through high-to-low, low-to-high, and turn order.

The best thing about Score Keeper 2020 is that it’s free and contains no ads. Since it’s got all of the features the other apps do, that’s hard to beat, unless you really like the row interface that ScoreKeeper Bacon offers, or you’re using an Android device. If you’re on iOS, though, this is probably the one to get.

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Pishe Pasha

Pishe Pasha is a simple competitive solitaire game for two players. In Pishe Pasha, players turn over cards one at a time from a stock pile, trying to get rid of them. This can be done by building up foundation piles in the center of the table, putting the cards out of play. However, you can also get rid of cards by forcing your opponent to take them. Unfortunately for you, though, they’re going to be trying to do the same thing to you!

Object of Pishe Pasha

The object of Pishe Pasha is to be the first to run out of cards. Players can get rid of cards in two ways. One is by playing them to a set of shared foundation piles. They may also play cards onto their opponent’s discard pile.

Setup

To play Pishe Pasha, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. To ensure a smooth, trouble-free game, we recommend Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. Shuffle and deal out the cards as far as they will go, so that each player has 26 cards. Players cannot look at their cards. Instead, they should collect them into a squared-up pack, keeping it face down. This pack constitutes the player’s stock.

The non-dealer turns up the first card of their stock to form their discard pile, placing it face-up next to the stock. If is this card is not an ace, the hand begins with the dealer’s first turn. However, if this card is an ace, the non-dealer immediately moves it to the center of the table to form one of the foundation piles. They then turn over another card. If this card can also be played to the foundation piles, as described below, they continue moving cards to the foundations and turning cards face up until they find a card that cannot be played.

Game play

On a player’s turn, they may move cards from their discard pile to one of two places. As aces are turned up, they are moved to the center of the table to form the foundation piles, shared by both players. The foundation piles, one per suit, are then built up in sequence. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low. If a player is able to play a card to the foundations, they must do so first. They may not take any other action before doing so.

On their turn, a player may also play a card to their opponent’s discard pile. To do so, the card must be one rank above or one rank below the top card already showing on the discard pile. Suit does not matter. For example, with a 7 showing on a player’s discard pile, their opponent may play any 6 or 8 to it.

If a player notices that their opponent failed to play a card to the foundations when able, they may call “Stop!” The player calling Stop may then either force their opponent to move the card to the foundations, or force their opponent to end their turn and take their turn instead.

Play of the hand

The dealer plays first, turning the top card of their stock up to form their discard pile. If they can play this card according to the rules above, they may do so. Then, they draw another card from their stock. They may keep playing until they draw a card they are unable to play. They then place this card on their discard pile, ending their turn.

The non-dealer then plays, following the same rule. The dealer and non-dealer continue alternating turns in this way. If a card played to the discard pile on a subsequent turn (or one that is moved there by the player’s opponent) is exposed, it may be played just like any other card. As always, if the card can be played to the foundations, this must be done before the player can take any other action.

A player will eventually run out of cards in their stock, while still having cards in their discard pile. When this happens, they turn their discard pile over, without shuffling, to form a new stock.

A player wins when they have gotten rid of all of the cards from both their stock and discard pile.

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Diloti

Diloti is a Greek fishing game for two players (or four players in partnerships). It plays similarly to another Greek fishing game, Kontsina. However, it also incorporates bonuses for capturing all the cards in one fell swoop, as in Xeri. This, along with the ability to form cards into sets that can only be captured together, makes Diloti one of the most strategic games in the fishing family.

Object of Diloti

The object of Diloti is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured with a card matching them in rank, or by using one card from the hand to capture a combination of cards that add up to its rank. Particular attention is given to capturing all the cards on the table on one turn, which scores higher.

Setup

If you want to play Diloti, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If you want to give your players the best Diloti game ever—and who doesn’t?—you’ll need a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper or a smartphone app. You can also use a Cribbage board.

If you’re playing with four players, determine partnerships by some convenient method like high-card draw, or simply mutual agreement. Partners should be seated across from each other, so that as the turn progresses around the table players from alternating partnerships get a turn.

Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Then, deal four cards face up to the center of the table. If three or more of these cards are the same rank, shuffle all four of them back into the deck and deal four new cards. Place the stub next to these four cards, forming the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left plays first. On each turn, a player plays a single card from their hand. If it doesn’t match with anything else on the table, they simply play it face-up to the table. This is called laying the card. If possible, however, a player will try to capture cards from the table, since this is how points are scored.

Capturing cards

A player may form one or more cards on the table into a bundle that must be captured as a single unit. This bundle is known as a declaration. For example, with a 2 and a 3 on the table, a player may play a 5 and form all three cards into a declaration with a value of 10. This declaration would only be able to captured on a later turn with a 10. Note that because face cards have no defined value, they cannot be included in a declaration. To avoid ambiguity, it is customary to state the value of the declaration when forming it. The declaration should be formed into a pile on the table, with all indices visible, to denote it can only be captured as a unit, as well as allowing players to see its value.

A player can also capture multiple cards by playing a card whose rank is equal to the total of the values of the cards being captured. For example, with a 5 and a 3 on the table, playing an 8 will capture both cards. Cards’ values are equal to their pip value; face cards have no value. If multiple combinations of cards add up to the card played, all of them can be captured at once. For example, if there are an 8, 6, 5, 3, and 2 on the table, an 8 could capture all five cards (8 alone, 5+3, and 6+2).

When a player captures cards, they place them, as well as the card used to capture them, face down in a pile in front of them. (In the four-player game, each player shares a captured-cards pile with their partner.) No player can inspect these cards for any reason until the end of the hand.

Regular declarations

A player may form cards on the table into a bundle that must be captured as a single unit. This bundle is known as a declaration. For example, with a 2 and a 3 on the table, a player may play a 5, then group all three cards into a declaration with a value of 10. This declaration would only be able to captured on a later turn with a 10. Note that because face cards have no defined value, they cannot be included in a declaration. To avoid ambiguity, it is customary to state the value of the declaration when forming it.

After a declaration has been formed, any player can capture it if they have a card of a proper value. An opponent may also raise the declaration by adding an additional card to it, thus increasing the value of the card needed to capture it. A player cannot raise their own declaration or one formed by their partner. Of course, a player cannot raise the value of a declaration above 10, because no single card in the deck has a value greater than 10.

To form a declaration, a player must have a card in their hand that can capture it. Likewise, to raise a declaration, the raising player must hold a card with the new value of the declaration. The player that formed or raised the declaration cannot use the card for any other purpose but capturing the declaration (unless it is captured or raised by another player). After forming a new declaration, a player cannot lay cards, nor form new declarations until the existing declaration is captured (either by themselves or someone else) or raised by an opponent. This restriction passes to an opponent who raises a declaration already on the table.

Group declarations

A more complex type of declaration is the group declaration. A group declaration is a set of multiple single cards or bundles of cards, where the value of each set is equal. For example, with a 2, 6, and two 4s on the table, a player could make a group declaration with a value of 8 (the first set being 2+6 and the second being 4+4). Later, all four cards could be captured by playing an 8. When forming a group declaration, a player should state that they are doing so by stating “group of 8s”. This avoids ambiguity regarding the type of declaration being made.

The real power of a group declaration is that it can incorporate existing regular declarations as one of the sets. For example, Alpha creates a declaration of 7 by playing a 3 onto a 4. The next player, Bravo, raises the declaration to 9 by adding a 2 to it. Then they combine it with another 9 on the table to make a group declaration. Bravo (or any other player) could then capture all four cards with another 9.

A player is permitted to incorporate an existing regular declaration that they are obliged to capture into a new group declaration. This is the only way a player can form a new declaration while they already have a uncaptured declaration on the table. A player may also incorporate their partner’s declaration into a group declaration. All of the same restrictions that apply to a player with a pending regular declaration apply to a player that has formed a group declaration as well.

Capturing xeri

Beginning on the second turn of the hand, when a player plays a single card that captures every face-up card on the table, they are said to have captured those cards xeri (an Greek word meaning “plain” or “dry”). A xeri capture scores more points than cards captured otherwise. Because of this, a good deal of the strategy in Diloti involves blocking your opponents from getting xeris, while seizing any opportunities your opponent may leave open to get one.

To record a xeri, the player places one card from the batch captured face up and at right angles to the rest of the their won-cards pile.

Replenishing the hands

After six turns, the players will have run out of cards. The dealer then deals every player a new hand of six cards from the stock. Play continues as before.

When the last batch of cards has been dealt from the stock, the game continues until all the cards have been played. This ends the hand. The last player to capture cards takes any cards remaining on the table and adds them to their won cards. (This does not count as a xeri.)

Scoring

After the hand ends, each player or partnership looks through the cards in their won-tricks pile and totals up their score for the hand, as follows:

  • Ten points for each xeri
  • Four points for capturing the most cards. If both players or teams tie at 26 cards, neither side scores these four points.
  • Two points for capturing the 10♦
  • One point for each ace captured
  • One point for capturing the 2♣

The scores are recorded on the scoresheet, the deal passes to the left, and another hand is played. Game play continues until a player or partnership reaches a score of 61 or higher. Whichever side has the higher score at that point wins the game.

See also

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Seven Rummy (Seven Bridge)

Seven Rummy is a rummy game played in Japan. It’s also known as Seven Bridge, despite the fact that it has no trick taking, bidding, or any other characteristic of Bridge. It can be played by two to five players. What makes Seven Rummy unique among rummy games is the unusual role 7s play in the game. Any meld containing a 7 doesn’t have to contain three cards; it can have two, or even just one!

Object of Seven Rummy

The object of Seven Rummy is to be the first player to form their entire hand into melds.

Setup

Seven Rummy uses the standard 52-card deck. You can play with any 52-card deck, but to give your players the best that they deserve, insist on Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You also need pencil and paper or some other way of keeping score.

Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. Place the stub face down in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn over the first card of the stock. This card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. A Seven Rummy player’s turn follows the usual Rummy pattern of draw, then meld, then discard. A player normally draws from the stock—unlike in other rummy games, in Seven Rummy, there are some restrictions on when a card can be drawn from the discard pile, described below. After drawing, a player may lay any melds they can form face up on the table in front of them. Then, they discard a card face up onto the discard pile, and their turn ends. The turn then passes to the left.

Melding

Organizing their hands into melds is the goal of every player. There are two types of melds. The first is three or four of a kind. The other meld type is the sequence, which is three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, such as 4-5-6♣. For the purposes of sequences, cards rank in their usual order, with aces always low.

A player may lay down as many melds as they are able to on their turn. (However, if a player is able to meld all seven cards at once, they score double for the hand.) If a player can extend another player’s meld on the table using cards from their own hand, they may also lay off cards onto those melds.

Including a 7 in a meld waives the normal minimum-card requirements for that meld. A 7 may be melded by itself. It can also be part of a two-card sequence (like 6-7♦) or part of a pair (like 7♥-7♠).

Drawing from the discard pile

Normally, a player is only allowed to draw from the stock, not the discard pile. However, there are two situations in which a player can draw the top card of the discard pile instead. Both of them require a player to be able to immediately form a new meld with cards from their hand. Also, in both cases, a player must have already had at least one turn where they drew a card from the stock.

If a player can use the previous player’s card along with one or more cards from their hand to form a new sequence, they can do so. They must meld it immediately. They may then lay down any other melds they have in their hand and discard. The turn then passes to the left, as normal.

If a player discards a card that another player can use to form a new three or four of a kind, that player may draw the card immediately, even if it’s not their turn. As with a sequence formed with a discard, the meld must be laid on the table immediately. The player can then lay down any other melds, as desired, and discards to end their turn. The next player to the left still plays next, not the player whose turn would have been next had the active player not interrupted—this often results in players getting skipped.

If two players can draw and meld the same discard, the player melding the three or four of a kind has priority.

Ending the hand

The hand ends when a player has no cards left in their hand after melding and discarding. (A final discard is always required.) This player wins the hand. All of the other players total up the value of the deadwood left in their hands, as follows:

  • 7s—20 points each
  • Face cards—10 points each
  • All other cards—their pip value

The winner of the hand scores the total of all of the other players’ deadwood scores. If a player goes out without having previously melded any cards at all (i.e. they melded all seven cards at once, then discarded), they score double for that hand.

The player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer for the next hand. Game play continues until a predetermined stopping point, either a certain number of hands or a target score. Whoever has the highest score at that point wins the game.

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5 great games to enjoy this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is this Thursday! Lots of folks are excitedly preparing for a Thanksgiving feast with their family, but in the back of their minds, they’re thinking, “what else are we going to do?” After the turkey is picked clean and all the pumpkin pie is gone, your family is still all together, and you’re searching for a way to keep everyone together and engaged to stave off that food coma. It’s a perfect time for a game of cards!

Not sure what you want to play this year? Try these games. They’re the five most popular games on our website over the last year:

  1. Cash (aka Kemps): Not only do you have to be first to get four of a kind, you have to send a secret signal to your partner telling them, too. When you get the hang of it, check out our companion guide to Cash signals to help throw your opponents off.
  2. Pitty Pat: A simple game of discarding your hand as quickly as possible by matching cards with the with the top card of the discard pile.
  3. Jack Change It: Like Crazy Eights, but need to kick it up a notch? Jack Change It has you covered by adding special powers to certain cards.
  4. Mexican Sweat: This poker variant will leave your players sweating as they slowly reveal their hands—to the rest of the table and themselves!
  5. Crash (13-Card Brag): A more laid-back, social variant of Brag that does away with the betting in favor of a point-scoring system. Players get 13 cards and divide them into four three-card Brag hands.

But of course, that’s just scratching the surface—there are over 230 games on our website. Whatever you decide to play this Thanksgiving, have fun and good luck!

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Kontsina

Kontsina (also sometimes known as Koltsina or Kolitsina) is a straightforward fishing game for two to four players. Much like in Cassino, players try to capture cards laid out on the table. This can be done through matching cards in rank, or by adding the values of the target cards together to equal the rank of a card in your hand.

Like Xeri, Kontsina originates in Greece. There, the game is often learned and enjoyed by children. A more complex Greek game, Diloti, is similar to a merge between Kontsina and Xeri, allowing more latitude for strategy.

Object of Kontsina

The object of Kontsina is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured with a card matching them in rank, or by using one card from the hand to capture a combination of cards that add up to its rank.

Setup

To play Kontsina, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Of course, to make your Kontsina game the place to be, you’ll want to play using a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also want something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.

Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. Then, deal four cards face up on the table. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. On their turn, a player may play a single card from their hand. If the card doesn’t match any of the other cards on the table, it is called laying the card. A card that is laid simply remains on the table. However, if possible, a player will normally try to match another card on the table, as doing so allows them to capture the card.

Capturing cards

The simplest way to capture a card is to merely match it by rank. For example, a jack can capture another jack, a 4 can capture another 4, and so on. Note that if there are multiple cards on the table of the same rank, a player can only capture one of them through matching.

Another way a player may capture a card is by playing a card that two or more cards on the table add up to in pip value. For example, a 9 could be used to capture a 5 and a 4, or a 6 and a 3, or a 2, 3, and 4, and so on. Aces are considered to have a value of one. Face cards do not have a value in this way and can only be captured by matching by rank.

When a player captures a card, the cards so captured, as well as the card used to capture them, are placed face-down in a pile in front of the player. This pile is kept separate from the player’s hand, and no player may look through it until the hand is over.

After playing one card, whether it captures anything or not, the player’s turn ends. The turn then passes to the left.

Replenishing the hands

When each player has played four times, everyone will be out of cards. The dealer then deals four new cards to each player from the stock, and the game continues.

Ending the hand

The hand ends when all of the players are out of cards and there are none remaining in the stock. Any remaining cards on the table are taken by the last player to capture any cards. Each player then looks through their captured-cards pile, and scores points as follows:

  • Two points for capturing the most cards. If two or more players tie for capturing the most cards, these two points are not scored by anyone.
  • One point for capturing the most clubs.
  • One point for capturing the 2♣. (Note that the 2♣ still counts as a club for the purpose of capturing the most clubs.)
  • One point for capturing the 10♦.

The deal then passes to the left, and a new hand is played. Game play continues until at least one player reaches a predetermined score, for example, 21 points. Whichever player has the highest score at that point is the winner. If there is a tie, additional tiebreaker hands are played until a winner is determined.

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Trash

Completed Trash card game layout

Trash is a simple card game for two or more players. In Trash, players compete to fill in a ten-card layout first. The cards you get to place are the luck of the draw, however, pretty much making any form of strategy impossible. It is an excellent game for children, though, and can be used as a teaching tool for kids still learning their numbers.

Object of Trash

The object of Trash is to be the first player to fill in a layout of ten cards with one card of each rank from ace to 10.

Setup

To play Trash, you’ll need a one standard 52-card deck of playing cards for every two players besides yourself. That is, for two players, you’ll need one deck, for three or four players, you’ll need two decks, for five or six you need three decks, and so on. Shuffle all the decks together. It doesn’t matter if the back designs don’t all match. As always, using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will make your game night better.

Shuffle and deal each player ten cards, face down, in two five-card rows. Players may not look at their cards. The stub is placed in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They begin their turn by drawing one card from the stock. If the card drawn is an ace through 10, they place it in the appropriate spot on their layout, as shown by the image above. Jacks are wild and may be placed anywhere in the layout. The player then flips over the face-down card previously occupying that space. They then place that card, and so on. A player’s turn ends whenever they expose either a card they cannot place on the layout, a queen, or a king. When this happens, they discard it and their turn ends. Discards are placed face up next to the stock, forming a discard pile.

The turn then passes to the next player. If the previous player’s discard fits into their layout, they draw it and begin their turn by playing it to their layout. Otherwise, they begin the turn by drawing a card from the stock.

If, at any point, a player draws a natural card that would fit in their layout in a spot currently occupied by a jack, they may place the natural card. The jack is then free to be played to any other space in the layout.

Should the stock be depleted before a hand ends, set aside the top card of the discard pile. Shuffle the rest of the cards, and turn them face down to form a new stock. The old top card remains as the first card in the new discard pile.

Game play continues until a player has filled in all ten spots of their layout. That player is the winner of the hand.

Later hands

After the first hand, the cards are collected, and the deal passes to the left. The new dealer deals the winner of the previous hand a layout of only nine cards, leaving the previous 10 spot blank. To win a second hand, the player must only fill in the spots corresponding to ace through 9. However, this means that exposing a 10 will end their turn, the same as kings and queens. When this player wins a second hand, they are dealt an eight-card layout, corresponding to aces through 8s, and so on.

A player wins the entire game by being the first player to fill in a one-card layout with either an ace or a jack.

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Forty Thieves (Napoleon at St. Helena)

Forty Thieves (Napoleon at St. Helena) layout

Forty Thieves, also known as Napoleon at St. Helena, is a two-deck solitaire game. Because so much of the game depends on the order the cards are dealt to the tableau, winning the game is very much dependent on luck, rather than skill.

A legend, likely untrue, says that the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte played solitaire to pass the time when exiled to the island of St. Helena. This game is supposedly the version he preferred.

Object of Forty Thieves (Napoleon at St. Helena)

The object of Forty Thieves is to move all of the cards from the tableau and stock to the foundations.

Setup

To play Forty Thieves, shuffle together two decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. (It doesn’t matter whether the back designs differ, so using one of our two-deck sets works well.) Deal ten face-up columns of four cards each. These 40 face-up cards form the tableau. The spaces above the first eight tableau columns are reserved the foundations. The 64 cards in the deck stub then become the stock.

Game play

As aces are revealed, move them to the foundations. Each foundation may be built up with further cards of the same suit, in ascending rank. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low. (For example, a foundation starting with the A♠ would have the 2♠ played next upon it, then the 3♠, and so on.)

In the tableau, only the top card of each column (i.e. the card with no other cards overlapping it) may be moved. Multiple cards cannot be moved as a unit. Cards from the tableau may either be moved to the foundations or onto another card in the tableau of the same suit but one rank higher. When empty spaces occur in the tableau, they may be filled by any card.

Cards can be drawn from the stock, one at a time, and moved either to the tableau or the foundations. If a card from the stock cannot be used, it is placed next to the stock in a discard pile. When the stock is exhausted, the discard pile may be turned over to refresh the stock.

The game ends whenever all 104 cards are moved to the foundations (a win) or no further moves are possible (a loss).

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Xeri

Xeri is a simple fishing game for two players. In Xeri, players alternately discard single cards to a pile in the middle of the table. When someone plays a card that matches the rank of the top card of the discard pile, they get to claim all the cards in the pile!

Xeri originates from Greece, and xeri is a Greek word meaning “dry” or “plain”. This comes from the bonus scored when capturing a single-card pile. The notion of collecting bonuses for capturing cards one at a time is also found in the more complex and strategic Greek game Diloti.

Object of Xeri

The object of Xeri is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured by matching cards from the hand to the top card of the discard pile.

Setup

To play Xeri, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. As a discerning host that wants to provide the best to their players, you’ll of course want to play with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper or a smartphone app.

Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Then, deal four cards, face up, to form a discard pile. Take a look at these cards to see if the top card of the pile is a jack, or if the card on top of the pile and the card below it are the same rank. If either of these are true, shuffle the discard pile back into the deck and deal a new four-card discard pile. After the discard pile has been formed, place the stub next to it, forming the stock.

Game play

The non-dealer goes first. They may play any card they wish to the discard pile. The turn then passes to the dealer, who also discards a card, and so on.

If a player plays a card of the same rank as the card currently showing on top of the discard pile, they capture the pile. They take the whole pile and place it face down in front of them, forming a won-cards pile. Their opponent then discards a card, starting a new discard pile.

Jacks are essentially wild. When played, they capture the pile as if they matched the top card, whatever its rank is.

Once cards are captured and placed in the won-cards pile, neither player can look through them to see what has and hasn’t been played yet.

Capturing xeri

After a player captures cards, their opponent starts a new discard pile with a single card. The capturing player is then faced with a discard pile with only one card in it. If they capture this card with a card of the same rank, they are said to have captured that card xeri (an adjective meaning “plain” or “dry”). Capturing xeri scores more points than cards captured otherwise. To signify this, the card captured xeri is turned face up and placed at right angles to the rest of the pile.

If a single card is captured by a jack, it does not count as a xeri capture unless the single card in the pile was also a jack.

Replenishing the hands

After six turns, both players’ hands will have been depleted. The dealer then deals each player a fresh hand of six cards from the stock. Play continues as before.

When the stock is depleted, the hand is played out until all the cards have been played. This ends the hand. The last player to capture cards takes any cards remaining in the discard pile and adds them to their won cards.

Scoring

At the end of the hand, each player calculates their score for the hand as follows:

  • 10 points for each xeri (note that the xeri cards also count as captured cards, and so should be included when considering the scoring options below)
  • 3 points for capturing more cards than the opponent
  • 1 point for each ace, king, queen, jack or 10
  • 1 point for capturing the 10♦ (note that the 10♦ also counts as a 10, so capturing it is worth two points altogether)
  • 1 point for capturing the 2♣

Whichever player scores the most points wins the hand. The deal passes to the other player, and the next hand is played. Whoever won more hands at the end of a predetermined number of hands wins the overall game.

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