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5 of the best card games

5 of the best card games

A little bit of luck, a little bit of strategy. Musement takes a look at five of the best card games for killing time when you’re on the road (or in lockdown).

Whether we’re killing time in transit or during a lockdown, a deck of cards is a nifty distraction. Here are five of the best games — all call for a standard 52-card deck unless otherwise specified.

1. War

One of the few games that rely solely on luck and not skill, War requires two players. Each puts down a card, the player with the highest card wins and collects the cards. If the cards have the same value, the players, each put down three more cards (two face-down and the last one face-up), and the player with the highest card collects them all. When they’ve exhausted their hands, they continue playing with the cards they’ve collected and the game ends when one player, the winner, has the entire deck — it could go on for hours, but it’s tremendous fun.

2. Crazy 8’s

Crazy 8’s is for two to eight players, and it can be loads of fun. Each player gets five cards then the top card of the draw pile is placed face up to start the discard pile. Each person must put down a card that matches the suit or rank of the previous card. All eights are wild, and when you put down an eight, you get to determine the next suit to play. The first person to lose all their cards wins.

3. 500 Rum

In addition to the standard 52 cards, 500 Rum also uses the two jokers. Deal seven cards each to up to five players, and 13 cards if just two people play. All cards are face value; face cards are worth 10 each while ace and jokers are 15. Each player takes a card from the draw pile and must discard one before the next player’s turn. The aim is to collect at least three cards of the same rank or that compose a sequence in the same suit, and place them face down in front of you. You can add to any sequence on the table with a card that completes it — jokers are wild and may complete any sequence. Players can also draw a card from the top of the discard pile. The round ends when the first person finishes all their cards. To make it extra challenging, you can play with two decks of cards. The same rules apply, so you can’t put down two threes of hearts and one three of clubs. When a round has won, everyone else has to subtract the value of the cards in their hands from that on the table, which could lead to a negative score. The idea is to keep playing round until someone’s score totals 500.

4. Palace

Each player gets three cards that they leave face down and never look at. Next, each player receives six cards, also face down, kept separate from the other three. They can glance at these six cards and elect three cards to place face-up on top of the face-down cards — the higher cards are better to keep — then contribute the other three cards to a draw pile from which the top card is flipped to indicate the discard pile. The player with a face-up three starts, if there are multiple or no one has one, move on to four and so forth until. The starting player plays a card that is equal to or higher than the starting card, and so forth — two always resets the play. If four of a kind are played, you can clear them from the discard pile. If you can’t play a card, you pick up and acquire the discard pile. Keep drawing cards, and when the draw pile is done, players play what’s in their hands, and end with the three face-down cards they were first dealt. The first person to play all their cards wins.

5. Hearts

The aim of Hearts is to have the lowest score. Hearts cards count as one point each and the Queen of Spades, also known as the Black Maria, is worth 13, so these are the cards to avoid. It’s a four-player game and each player is dealt 13 cards. Players look at their hands and then select three cards to pass on to the player to their left — usually opting to rid themselves of the higher ones to avoid taking tricks. Second round players pass right, third round across. The fourth round has no pass, and the cycle repeats. The player with the two of clubs starts, and the players must follow suit. If they can’t, they choose another card to get rid of, usually a heart, or King, Queen, Ace of Spades, or higher cards — however these can’t be played during the first trick. The player who put down the highest card wins the trick. Hearts can’t lead until they’re broken or played. The winner of the trick kicks off the next one. At the end of each round, the players tally their scores. However, if a player takes all the hearts and the Queen of Spades, they get 0 points and all the other players take 26. It’s over when someone reaches 100 points, and the player with the lowest score wins.

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