Game Time: Ten Simple Card Games

10 Card Games.

Some of them are adaptations from existing board games, some are new creations.

I hope you can derive some value from it – I believe you can even construct the cards for some of these games with cardboard and a pen. Have fun!

Card Games Pattern Correct
This is how two cards fit…
Card Games Pattern Incorrect
… this is how they don’t.

#1 – Picardso

Instead of putting a jigsaw puzzle together alone, why not doing that in a group and be open to any outcome?

The cards will all have different patterns on them that fit with each others in different ways. For example, you can connect some cards on one side, but not another.

Now everyone has 10 cards on their hands and puts one card on the table next to another card with fitting edges or patterns.

Here is the thing: you are allowed to turn a card around that is already integrated on the table to fit your own card as well. So you are changing/disrupting the original pattern.

But you can only do that with cards at the edges of the big evolving mix of cards. If you don’t want your opponents to win, you can bury the cards he could use inside of the big emerging pattern. You can guess your opponents’ hands and try to sabotage or collaborate with them.

The goal is to get rid of all the cards; if there is a round where you CAN’T fit anything in, you have to take one card from the pile.

In the end, there is going to be fun interactions, alliances built etc. And a beautiful if original picture emerges once the cards have been laid out on the table.

#2 – Wuzzle-Up

There is this old TV show: the ‘Wuzzles’. All the characters are a hybrid  of two different creatures.

The goal of the game is to combine two different items or characters. Like a bee and a lion.

Everyone gets 10 random cards, and the person who is the first to lose them all wins.

(1.) You take two cards from your hand that could go together and place them on the table. Such a pair is called a Wuzzle. Or Cuzzle. From wuzzling “cards” and “wuzzle”.

(2.) Now the next person can do the same – or decide to “one up” you. He can replace one of your two cards with his own. You have to pick up your card again.

(3.) To avoid that you simply replace your opponent’s card with any card, they have to somewhat fit and improve your wuzzle. That’s why you call it “Wuzzle-UP”. Either everyone decides if your card improves on the existing wuzzle – you could introduce a vote, so alliances matter! – or you have a simple number system, with cards that are more specific having higher numbers.

(4.) You could introduce additional ideas, like the “Truzzle” – fitting three cards together – or the “Lightning round”, where you put your card into an existing wuzzle and the next person in clockwise direction gets the card that was replaced and now has 30 seconds to get rid of it on another wuzzle.

Of course, if you paid attention, you know what cards your neighbor has, so you can decide if you want to help him or sabotage him.

The person who keeps the last card without being able to put it down loses.

#3 – Port of Calls

This is a simple economic simulation.

When I was younger, I played the computer game with the same name

You have to build up a business and improve it. There are four different categories of cards: Ships, Harbors, Money and Orders. The goal is to have the most money after a fixed amount of rounds. If you are taking financial hits, eventually you will have to sell your ships. So people will drop out of contention.

You spend money by placing down a ship card on a harbor card; you earn money by placing an order (your ship card) from one harbor to the next.

How much money you earn is determined by the attractiveness of the harbor and the size of your ships (and thus the size of your fleet) as well as the size of your order.

The popular harbors like Hamburg, Rotterdam, Karachi etc. will let you earn a lot of money, but they also have steeper fees, so they are less affordable in the beginning.

Over time, you buy more ships etc. Do you decide to focus on a handful of big orders or many small orders? What about maintenance fees of your fleet? Does your strategy change when you start the game vs. end it?

#4 – Story time

The goal is to build a story towards a predetermined finish.

The cards have different symbols on them. Like a man, an apple, a house etc.

You place one card down each round and take a new one from the pile. But you can’t just place any card down, you have to build a storyline to fit the card to the previous one. 

Everyone has his own storyline, but you can cross your card with somebody else’s story.

Now the others can actually take over your story and make them theirs, but then you get to peruse their story. If they decide they want to cross their storyline with yours, you can do the same to them.

So each player has to decide: building a narrative that fits best with the end, or using someone else’s story?

No matter how it goes, you end up with a lot of different stories.

#5 – A mix between scrabble and solitaire

Card Games Solitaire
The classic.

It’s similar to solitaire, but instead of matching symbols on cards, you have letters that you have to put into words.

One complete word can then be placed aside, and the next letter comes from a new card you take.

The goal is to get rid of all of the cards by turning the letters into words.

#6 – Minimize

Do you really need all of your cards?

You start with 10 cards and place one card before you, two cards in the next round, then three cards and so on.

But someone has a matching card, he will pair the card with yours and you have to pick it back up.

So you are constantly taking up cards and trying to lose them. You have to place your cards strategically onto somebody else’s pile, until you have a series of cards that no one else can match. Then you win.

#7 – An investor’s game.

Everyone has to build up a large amount of money and/or karma for valuable services for the other players.

The player with either the most karma or most money wins. Whatever comes first after all cards are played.

Every round, a player can either pick up a money or “service card”. Think event cards from Monopoly.

For example, the card could say: It’s your neighbors daughter’s birthday. Buy her a present for $200.

In that case, the player loses money to the other player. But he also gets karma points back.

Or he decides to pick up a money card, to be on the safe side.

So you have to decide: amass a lot of money or a lot of karma? If your neighbor decides to take an event card, you could end up giving him more karma than you receive money. So you have to decide if you want to focus on event cards or money and find the best balance.

#8 – Battle ships

It’s an adaptation of the board game version.

There are two different kinds of cards. Torpedo/missile cards and ship cards. All cards represent positions on a grid (e.g. B4 or C3).

So you can build three ship elements that are on e.g. B2, B3 and B4 together into a larger ship. The goal is to have e.g. 1 4-element ship, two 3 element ships and 4 two-element ships at the end of the game.

So every player gets 18 ship and 18 missile cards; the remaining cards stay on a pile.

Now, you play a missile card each round. For example, if someone plays B3, my 3-element ship from the example above is done. I get to pick up three new cards. And so on. Until I have built my fleet as described above.

#9 – Memory

Instead of having the cards spread out on a table, we keep them on our hands.

We all start with 10 cards, and our goal is to get rid of them through building pairs.

At the beginning, everyone shows their cards for 10 seconds and then covers them.

Let’s say I have an apple card. So now I remember who has the other card, mention it and can eliminate my card and the other person’s card.

The other person now has to pick up a fresh card and shows that card briefly. Then he can determine who has the second card. And so on.

In the beginning, it’s easy to remember who had which card… but progressively, you have to keep more cards in mind, so that in the end, the person with the best memory prevails.

#10 – Secret Action Santa

Card Games Santa
Santa approves.

This is a version of the popular Christmas game.

The goal is to have the most valuable card at the end.

The first player takes a card from the pile. He places it in front of him, visible.

Now the second player can decide to take that card (1) or a new one from the pile (2).

If he takes the card of another player (1), then the first player can choose a new one etc.

How do we prevent the last player from automatically winning?

Every player who gives his card away can determine the other person has to carry out an action. Like walking barefoot in the snow. Singing a Christmas carol. Etc. That may actually make for some great Christmas experiences!

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Do you have additional ideas?

What is your favorite card game?

Thanks for reading and let us know in the comments below!