Slapjack is a classic children’s game for two to eight players. It’s one of the rare games whose main game mechanic is named in its title—you pretty much slap jacks, and that’s the game. This card-spotting-and-slapping mechanic shows up in a few other games, such as Egyptian Ratscrew. Those games probably inherited it from Slapjack, however.
Object of Slapjack
The object of Slapjack is to collect all of the cards in play by slapping jacks as they appear.
The usual game of Slapjack uses one standard 52-card deck. A second deck can easily be added for a longer game or to expand the game to more players. It doesn’t matter much if the backs are different. Because Slapjack can be boisterous enough that it’s bad on a deck of cards, using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards is highly recommended. They’re durable enough to handle even the most excitable players.
Shuffle and deal the entire deck out, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and continuing clockwise, as evenly as it will go. Some players may receive more cards than others, which is okay. Each player squares their cards up into a neat stack. Players may not look at their cards at any time.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first. They begin by flipping one card face up from their stack and playing it to the center of the table. Since the player would have an advantage if they turned the card up the normal way, since they would glimpse the card before anyone else, Slapjack convention is to grab the card from the far side and flip it up away from oneself. The next player to the left does the same, flipping a card face up and adding to the central pile. Cards played out of turn remain on the pile, and are considered dead cards. Any effect their rank would have on game play is ignored. The player who played them must play again when it becomes their turn. This, in essence, charges them a fee of one card for playing out of turn.
When a jack appears atop the central pile, the first player to slap the jack wins the entire pile of cards. If multiple players slap the jack, the player whose hand is on the bottom, skin in direct contact with the jack, wins the pile. The winner takes the entire pile and places it face down at the bottom of their stack. If a player slaps a card other than a jack, they pay one card, face down, to the player who played the erroneously-slapped card to the pile.
Players who run out of cards are eliminated for the time being. So long as there are two active players in the game, they may slap a jack and winning the pile as per usual. This is called slapping in to the game. This privilege is revoked if the player makes a false slap, permanently shutting them out of the game. If a jack appears and a player fails to slap it, they are also permanently shut out of the game.
Game play continues until one of the final two players is eliminated from the game. The other player will have all of the cards, winning the game.
Pirate is essentially a two-person solitaire game, because the two players basically play their own games and only interact at certain points in the game. Gameplay is quite simple, making it a great game for children.
Object of Pirate
The object of Pirate is to capture more ships (sequences from king down to ace or vice-versa) than your opponent.
Pirate requires two standard 52-card decks of playing cards. The two decks are not intermixed, at least initially, and it doesn’t matter if their backs are different. A two-deck set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will fit the bill perfectly. Because there are no turns in Pirate, with players making their plays simultaneously, cards can unintentionally get bent, meaning that the added durability of plastic cards will be handy.
Each player shuffles the other’s deck, and then cuts their own deck, exposing the bottom card of the top half of their deck. The player with the lower exposed card is the low player and the other player is the high player. Players then shuffle their own decks, each deck forming their own personal stock, which they keep held in their hand.
Players begin turning cards face up from their deck into a face-up waste pile. When the low player encounters an ace, they place it in front of them as the keel to a new ship. Likewise, the high player may lay a keel to a new ship with a king. New keels are placed across the table from a keel of the same suit on the opponent’s side, if there is one. Upon these keels, players may build upon their own ship with cards of the same suit, in sequence, with the low player building up from the ace and the high player building down from the king. Players may not play to their opponent’s ship. When the stock is exhausted, the waste pile is turned face down to form a new stock.
When two ships meet up to form one uninterrupted 13-card sequence, the ship is captured by the player that played the card that connected them, and the ship is squared up and put aside next to the capturing player to be scored later. If, however, both players attempt to capture the ship at the same time, it is sunk and the entire ship is discarded, with no score being awarded to either player.
After a ship has been captured or sunk, a new ship of that suit is built, with the players laying the opposite keels as before—the high player lays the ace and the low player lays the king.
When a player exhausts both their stock and waste pile, they cease normal play, but continue to observe their opponent. If the opponent draws any cards that the observing player could use to build upon their own ships, they may claim the cards as their own, provided they do so before the opponent plays the card or draws another. If a card is drawn that would capture a ship, the first player to claim it gets the capture—or, if both players claim it simultaneously, the ship is sunk.
Egyptian Ratscrew is something of a hybrid of War and Slapjack, for two or more players. Like Spoons, the physicality of the game makes it a potential source of injury if players get too exuberant. While there’s slightly more strategy in Egyptian Ratscrew than there is in War, there’s still not much, so this game is generally enjoyed most by those who aren’t yet old enough to drive a car.
Object of Egyptian Ratscrew
The object of Egyptian Ratscrew is to get all of the cards. All of them.
Egyptian Ratscrew features people smacking cards excitedly, so you need some sturdy cards. Fortunately, Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards fit the bill perfectly. Most games will be adequately served by one 52-card deck, but there’s no reason you can’t shuffle in a second one for larger games (and it doesn’t matter too much if the backs don’t match). Some players add one or more jokers to ensure the deck divides evenly between players.
There are many variations on the rules to Egyptian Ratscrew, so make sure everyone is on board with the particular set of rules being used.
Shuffle and deal out the cards one at a time, starting with the player at the dealer’s left, and continuing clockwise from there. Some people might end up with one more card than others, which is okay. Players may not look at their cards. Each player’s cards should be kept in a neat stack in front of them, face down.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They begin by flipping one card face up from their stack and playing it to the center of the table. Since the player would have an advantage if they turned the card up the normal way, since they would glimpse the card before anyone else, Egyptian Ratscrew convention is to grab the card from the far side and flip it up away from oneself. The next player to the left does the same, flipping a card face up and adding to the central pile, and so on.
Cards played out of turn remain on the pile, and are considered dead cards. Any effect their rank would have on game play is ignored. The player who played them must play again when it becomes their turn. In essence, they’re charged a fee of one card for playing out of turn.
When a player reveals a face card or an ace, the next player after them is challenged. The challenged player must flip up a number of cards as a response, looking for another face card. A jack requires one card to be revealed in response, a queen two, a king three, and an ace four.
If the player successfully reveals a face card, the challenge passes to the player to their left. That player must turn over the number of cards required by the most-recently turned over face card. If they, too, reveal a face card, the challenge passes to the next player, and so on.
If a challenged player reveals all numeric cards, then the challenge is lost. Whoever was the most recent player to play a face card adds the entire pile of played cards to the bottom of their stack.
Should a player run out of cards mid-challenge, the next player to the left has the option to continue the challenge. If they do, they reveal the appropriate number cards minus those already revealed. They may also decline the challenge, awarding the stack to the player who played the most recent face card.
Another opportunity to win the pile is when a pair is played consecutively. The first player to notice this and slap the pile is awarded the entire thing, which is added to their stack. If multiple players slap, the player whose hand is on the bottom (i.e. in direct contact with the pile) wins. Slaps preempt any challenge taking place at the time.
If jokers are used, jokers are also slappable. Some players add other slappable combinations, such as a sandwich (a pair separated by one card of another rank, like 7-4-7), or a sequence of three or more cards.
To prevent players from slapping everything, players who make unwarranted slaps must pay one penalty card to the pile. This penalty card is considered a dead card. It may also be helpful to require players to designate one hand as a card-flipping hand and the other for slapping, to allow everyone to be on the same footing when it comes to slaps.
Running out of cards
When a player runs out of cards, they are eliminated for the time being. They may slap in to the game, so long as there are two active players in the game, by slapping a valid card combination and winning the pile as per usual. This privilege is revoked if the player makes a false slap, permanently shutting them out of the game.
Game play continues until only two players are in the game, and one runs out of cards. The sole remaining player takes the pile, and thus becomes the winner.
Spoons is essentially a card game version of Musical Chairs for three to six players. Players race to be the first to complete a four-of-a-kind, at which point they grab a spoon. However, there’s one fewer spoon than there are players. The person left without a spoon feels very sad about the whole affair.
Object of Spoons
The object of Spoons is to simply not be the last player left without a spoon.
You will need at least one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Because Spoons can get out of hand rather easily, be sure to use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. Other cards may not be sturdy enough to withstand the gameplay unscathed. A single deck of cards will work well for three to six players. If you wish to add more players, add a second deck of cards. It probably doesn’t matter if the backs match up, so you can use the other deck in the set if you’re using a set of Denexa cards.
You will also need some spoons, specifically one fewer than the number of players in the game. Any spoons will do, although plastic spoons may break and produce sharp edges. It may be better to use your regular spoons from the silverware drawer to avoid any cutlery-induced lacerations. Place the spoons where they are equally accessible to all players. Usually, this is the center of the table. Some players prefer to put the spoons somewhere further away to cause everyone to have to get up and race to the spoons (and probably fall over one another along the way).
Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. Place the deck stub to the left of the dealer, this becomes the stock.
Game play begins with the dealer. They draw one card from the stock, then discards one card face down onto the table, to their right. The player to the dealer’s right draws the dealer’s discarded card, then discards to the right, and so on around the table. The player to the left of the dealer simply discards, face down, into a discard pile to the left of the stock. There are no turns, however—the dealer can immediately draw again as soon as they have discarded, and then discard and draw again, as can every other player in the game. A player may never have more than 5 cards in hand at one time. As a result, slower players may end up with a pile of unprocessed cards to their left as faster opponents send cards down the line toward them.
If, at any point, the stock should run out, the discard pile is shunted over to take its place, and play continues uninterrupted.
When a player succeeds in assembling a four-of-a-kind, they discard their fifth card and grab a spoon. All other players grab one as well. The player left without a spoon is branded the loser, and gets the letter S from the word SPOON. Further letters are awarded for subsequent losses. When a player has lost five rounds and spelled out the word SPOON, they are out of the game. When a player is eliminated, so is a spoon, keeping the number of spoons one less than the number of players.
Game play continues until only one player remains.
Pig is a variant of Spoons with less spoons, less grabbing, less potential for injury, and more sneaky gameplay. Rather than grabbing for a spoon, in Pig, the player lays their hand face-down in front of them and places a finger on their nose. They continue to receive cards from their left but merely pass them to the right without looking at them. The hope is to keep the game flowing well enough nobody else notices what they are doing.
When another player notices the player with the finger on their nose, they also put their finger on their nose, lay their cards down, and continue to pass cards. This continues until only one player remains oblivious to what is going on around them. This last player to put their finger to their nose is the loser.
War is a classic game for two, whose outcome is determined entirely by luck. Because of that, it’s probably best suited for kids—or adults who just want to pass the time without thinking because they are sick or really sleepy.
Object of War
The object of War is to get all of the cards. All of them.
War requires a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If we found out you’re not using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, we would raise an eyebrow. Really hard. Our eyebrows can actually detach and hover several feet off the ground when we are that surprised about something. It’s kind of impressive, but it’s really a pain to clean up, so we wish you wouldn’t make us do it.
Shuffle and deal the entire deck out, giving each player 52 cards. Cards are not to be looked at by either player. Each player’s cards should be kept in a neat stack in front of them, face down.
Each player turns one card face up, placing it in the middle of the table. The player with the higher card “wins” the skirmish, and both cards go face down at the bottom of the winner’s deck. Aces are high.
In the event that the two cards exposed are of the same rank, the two players “go to war”. One card is placed in the center of the table, face down, and another is turned face up, and the winner of the war takes all six cards on the table for their deck. If both of these cards are the same rank, the players go to double war, turning two cards face down and a third face up, and so on until the war is decided one way or the other.
Jenny Jenny is an unusual game featuring the use of face cards as a currency of sorts. Because of its simple, luck-heavy gameplay, it works best as a children’s game. Up to four players can play.
Object of Jenny Jenny
The object of Jenny Jenny is to be the first player to obtain a “Jenny Jenny”, i.e. one of each rank of card from ace through ten inclusive.
You will need one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. You can include jokers if you like (treat them as extra face cards). We wholeheartedly emphasize the fact that if you use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for your games, you are definitely the sort of person that we’d like to play cards with.
Deal seven cards to each player. The remainder of the deck forms the stock. Players remove their face cards from their hand, forming a pile in front of them. Players also remove any duplicate cards and spread them out in front of them, where they are all visible to each of the other players.
Play begins with the player to the left of the dealer. On their turn, a player adds one card to their hand by either
- drawing a card from the stock, or
- buying one of their opponents’ duplicate cards by exchanging it with one of their face cards (which serve as “money”).
A player may not refuse the sale of their cards to an opponent—this would result in no trades occurring at all, since the value of the surplus card is greater than that of the “money” cards being exchanged. A player also may not set a higher price for the sale of their cards; it remains fixed at one face card.
Play continues until one player successfully obtains one each of ace through ten (suit does not matter). This player calls out “Jenny Jenny!” and wins.
That’s Jenny Jenny—but the game mechanic of face cards serving as currency is interesting and gives a glimmer of something more under the surface of this game. With some tinkering, this could become a real cutthroat game of capitalism in action. If you’re beyond the stage of your life where vanilla Jenny Jenny catches your fancy, try dreaming up some more interesting rules for it and let us know what you come up with.