Solitaire and the In the Heights musical

My favorite card games are Rummy, Up and Down the River, and Go Fish. I am the absolute worst at poker and strategy isn’t my forte. But my best friend and I play A LOT of cards. It’s portable and it has a million different possibilities. For those of you who are stuck at home by yourselves or with loved ones, these are some ways to spend your time.

Special thanks to my best friend for trying these out with me! Couldn’t have understood any of these rules or setups without you, Bee!

1 Person Games

1. Clock Solitaire

This has been one of my favorite versions of solitaire for years. I’ve taught it to all of my friends and family. It’s a cute setup, quick game, and really really satisfying when fate allows you to win. It’s really just chance and card flipping, but it’s a game that you can play by yourself at whatever pace you enjoy. Sometimes, to challenge myself, I try to play it through in 5 minutes and under. Of course, that doesn’t affect the outcome, but it is a lot of fun.

2. Streets and Alleys

Basically solitaire set up in a different way than the original. I have a soft spot (one that reminds me of those afternoons at home in middle school when I would have the flu) for the original solitaire and I just wasn’t a huge fan of this remix.

3. Forty Thieves 

Described by players as a “skill game”, this one challenged me in a fun way at first but soon devolved into a headache. I hardly got 5 cards out of the way in all of that gameplay time. It’s much more complicated than regular Solitaire because you can only move one card at a time. The rules are rigid and I have no idea how to bring strategy to something that seems so random. Probably won’t be playing this one again, but it would be good to get the gears going before a test or working on an especially lengthy paper. 

4. Baker’s Dozen 

This one really put my brain to work! It’s about organizing but also trying to think a few steps ahead. I moved the cards around more than necessary. It’s really more about trying, making mistakes, then trying again. And, as someone who loves spring cleaning, I have to admit that Baker’s Dozen was very satisfying.

2 Person Games

(Again, shout out to Bee who played and reviewed all of these with me)

1. Up and Down the River

Card flipping but with estimates. If you want to play a drinking game (for under 21, juice works just as well) this is the perfect one. You and your opponent(s) always make a “bet” as how to many cards you’ll win within the round and that part is certainly up to chance. The portion of this game that requires a bit of strategy is what cards you decide to play first and when it is that you bring your “trump” cards out. 

2. Rummy/Rum

It takes a bit of time to get used to this one. The rules are simple enough: get rid of all of your cards before your opponent can score any points. But there is a lot more strategy involved in Rum than Go Fish. Each game is a struggle to figure out what the other player has in their hand and what exactly it is that they’re trying to get. This is a nearly friendship-ending game (not unlike Monopoly) so make sure to practice playing this one with a family member first.

Bee and I have a running tally of this game and we take that score sheet very seriously. Having a record of past games (even without the points) can be a fun tradition for roommates, partners, or family.

 3. Garbage

    • Difficulty: 2/5
    • Time: 
      • For 1 round: 2-3 mins
      • For 1 game: 15-20 mins

The first time that we played a round, we tied. There was no recorded protocol for this so we each just went down a card. Not a great start. It’s really difficult to come back from losing a few rounds in a row because it puts you at a disadvantage for the following rounds. It should be played on a large, flat surface with both players directly across from each other. We, of course, didn’t think to do this and rewarded us with more chaos for it. The space constraints also mean that I wouldn’t recommend this game for a flight or road trip. 

Bee: “Not a game I’d choose over Rummy or Up and Down the River, but it can be fun if you’re bored. There’s no strategy in it; you just have to go with it. By about the time that it becomes 6 cards vs 5 cards or 5 cards vs 5 cards it really becomes a game of roulette.”

4. Egyptian Rat Screw

Definitely more fun with more players, but it really depends on which “slap rules” you choose to play by. We started out slow because it was way too confusing to try remembering all of the rules between just the two of us. But it’s really about getting into the rhythm of it all. Sure, it feels awkward at first, but

We didn’t have a chance (nor an extra couple of people) to play 3, 4, 5+ player games, but here are some that came highly recommended to me!

3 Person Games

1. Palace

Learn to play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVFIpjNQ7R4

2. 99

Learn to play: https://gathertogethergames.com/99game

3. Six Card Golf

Learn to play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZbsEtXWK50

4 Person Games

1. Spades

Learn to play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmxpLGjZ5sQ

I have actually played this one last Thanksgiving and it was a lot of fun. Since it’s a team game, it really helps keep family from trying to get just the “best player” out. It takes a lot of communication.

 2. Baccarat

Learn to play: https://playingcarddecks.com/blogs/how-to-play/baccarat-game-rules

3. Whist

Learn to play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v5UxlUg55Y

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