Spite and Malice

Spite and Malice game layoutSpite and Malice is a game that plays a lot like a two-player solitaire variant. Like many older card games, it has been reimagined as a commercially-available game with a custom deck; Spite and Malice was adapted to become Skip-Bo.

Object of Spite and Malice

The object of Spite and Malice is to be the first player to deplete their talon pile.


Spite and Malice needs two standard 52-card decks of playing cards, which are shuffled together to form a 104-card pack. If you have a set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards handy, you’ve got everything covered on the card front, since it includes two decks.

Shuffle and deal 20 cards from the combined deck face down to each player. This forms the player’s talon pile and is placed at each player’s right. The top card of the talon is turned face-up and put on the top of the stack, but the remaining cards cannot be looked at. Each player is also dealt a hand of five cards, which they may look at (but their opponent may not). The deck stub becomes the stock and is placed to the side in the middle of the table.

The center of the table is partitioned out as follows: in the center of the table will be the three build piles, then, on the next row closest to each player, they have their own four discard piles. Initially, none of these piles will contain any cards, so the center of the table will be empty until play begins.

Game play

Unlike in some similar games like Speed, each player takes turns. The primary goal of each player will be to move cards, hopefully mostly from their talons, to the build piles in the center of the table. Kings are wild in Spite and Malice, with aces ranking low and the remainder of the cards following in the conventional order, with queen as the highest. Suits are immaterial to the game.

If a player begins their turn with fewer than five cards, the first thing they do is draw back up to five from the stock. On a player’s turn, they may play as many cards as they wish face-up to the build piles; these cards may be the top card of their talon (at which point a new top card is exposed) or one of the five cards from their hand. Each build pile begins with an ace, and is then built up in sequence to the queen. When a pile reaches the queen, it is removed and shuffled into the stock. There may only be three build piles at any time; new piles can only be formed by an ace when there is an empty pile to begin adding cards to. If a player depletes their hand on a single turn, they may draw five new cards and continue onward.

A player may also take one card from their hand (not the talon) and put it face-up in one of their discard piles. A player may only have four discard piles; if they wish to add more cards, they must put the new card on top of one of the existing discards, making it inaccessible until the card on top of it is moved. When a card in the discard pile is played, the player’s turn ends and they cannot make any further actions until it is their turn again. Cards in the discard piles may be played only to the build piles on subsequent turns; they may not be moved to the player’s hand or from one discard pile to another.

Game play continues until one player depletes their talon, winning the game. If the stock runs out of cards (presumably because a stalemate has been reached, preventing any of the build piles to be completed to replenish it), whoever has the fewest cards in their talon is the winner.



Pirate ship
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.

Game play

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.

The first player to capture five ships—or four, if a ship has been sunk—is the winner.