Card Games

Looking for a game that you can carry with you where ever you go? A game you could take on a plane or toss in a purse? Then you're probably looking for a card game!

Here are a few of my favorite card games.

No Thanks! (Rio Grande Games - 2004)

If there is one card game that should be in everybody's collection then it would have to be Thorston Gimmler's masterpiece: No Thanks! This game is so incredibly simple that it can be taught in about 30 seconds and it's so quick that it can be played in around fifteen minutes. The premise is simple: each turn you either give up a chip (worth a point) or take a card. Because all the cards are worth negative points, no one wants a card; but because you only have so many chips, sooner or later you're going to have to give in and take one. The trick is to decide when to give in and take the inevitable loss. It's a brilliant, simple game that can be played anywhere by anyone.

Coloretto (Rio Grande Games - 2003)

Coloretto is a deceptively simple card game that's designed for adults but also works very well with children. Each card is really just a color. Players collect colors trying to build sets. The bigger the set, the more its point value. The trick is that only three colors count towards your score, the others count against it, so you need to be careful about which colors you take. That can be very challenging because the other players are trying to make sure that you have to take colors you don't want.

This isn't really a kids game but it does work very well with children for a couple of reasons. First of all, there's no reading or math (except in scoring) required. But more importantly, the entire game is played with all cards face up and visible. This means that it's very easy for an experienced player to coach an inexperienced one.

Citadels (Fantasy Flight Games - 2000)

In this game, players compete to build a medieval citadel composed of eight or more province cards.

The unique thing about Citadels is that at the beginning of each turn, players secretly choose from a set of roles. The roles determine play order but, more importantly, each role has a unique ability. For instance, the first role is the assassin and his special ability is that he gets to assassinate another player (forcing him to sit out the turn). The catch is that he doesn’t get to choose his victim by name; he must choose by role and that means that he's never quite sure who he's killed (if anyone).

This game is easy to learn and it works very well with a wide range of players (from 2 to 8) of all ages. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because this game works well with six or seven that it won't work well with two or three. In fact, I actually think the game works even better with two!

Mü & Lots More (Rio Grande Games - 1995)

If you're fond of trick taking games such as Rook, Spades, Hearts or Bridge, then this is probably just the game for you. Mü is the basic game in the box and it's become my favorite traditional style trick taking game. It's played with a deck of 60 cards distributed over five suits. This game has a near perfect bidding mechanism that's extremely intuitive and a very clever scoring system that is very well balanced. It plays well with up to six players and I can't recommend it enough.

Tichu (Rio Grande Games/Abacus Spiele - 1991)

Tichu is a four player partners trick taking game that really shines. It's a really hard to describe, very unique game. The best I can do is say that it's sort of a cross between Hearts and Poker. In addition to leading single cards, a player can also lead sets of cards that look like poker hands (pairs, three of a kind, runs, etc.). The next player can then choose to better the last card(s) played or pass and the trick continues until three players pass in succession. This makes it possible for the player who lead to play again on the same trick! The learning curve is a bit steep on this game (especially since it's probably quite unlike any other card game you've ever played) and I'm sad to say that the rules are not very well written (there is a much clearer rules summary on my blog) but once you've got the hang of it I think you'll be hard pressed to think of a better four player card game!

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