Risujin's Card Games

Having abundant time on our hands and often bored out of our minds, my high school friends and I got into the habit of playing cards to pass the time. We soon found, however, that we either tired of existing card games or could not find enough people to play them. We began inventing new games to play, and I present the best of them here.

The images used to illustrate the games here are from the Ornamental card set from the gnome-cards package, a part of GNOME Games. The source images are covered by the GPL license like the rest of the GNOME project.

Same Difference top

Perhaps our most successful and original invention is a quick, turn-based two-player strategy game with a very appropriate title. To start the game, deal eight cards face up in a row and give each player a hand of five cards:

Place the rest of the deck next to the row of cards, each player will draw from the deck after their turn. Each turn proceeds as follows. You may play in any available place between two cards on your side of the table. However the card or combination of cards you lay down must combine (using addition and subtraction) to the numerical difference between the values of those two cards. Cards are valued as follows:

Notice that face cards map onto the lower numbers and that a 10 can be used as either a value of ten or zero:

  • On the table, a 10 is always valued as ten
  • Played alone a 10 is valued as zero
  • Played in combination with other cards, a 10 is valued as ten
Here is how the card differences are determined for the cards dealt above:

Cards played on the second row are laid horizontally as shown in the image above. A player may choose to combine multiple cards (i.e. 10 - 7 = 3), in this case show how you combined the cards to your opponent and take all the cards combined this way and place them in a stack horizontally with one of the cards (your choice) on top.

After playing a card or combination of cards, draw one card from the deck if it has not yet run out. If the card you played (or the top card of the stack) matches the suit of one of the two cards it is played on, draw another card. If the suit matches both cards, draw two additional cards.

Keep in mind that you can continue laying cards onto the third row and beyond as long as you have two adjacent cards to play on. Each row alternates card orientation (the third row is vertical again):

There is one final element to the game—blocking. If you have played on your side of the table and the mirrored spot on your opponents side is playable but has not been played on, you may choose to play there for your turn. When you do this you can only use one card, no combinations! Show this card to your opponent, and place it face down. Your opponent can no longer play on the spot or play off of it in the next row! Here is how you would block using a 10:

The goal of the game is to be the last player to play a card. That is, if you cannot play a card because there is nowhere to play or because you have no cards, you lose!

Moron top

Moron is a fast paced variation on the Russian game of Durak (translated as Stupid or Idiot). I won't explain the rules of the original game here, if you are not familiar with the original game please read the Wikipedia page for background. The game is best played with two people and seven-card hands.

The main variation is that after an attack has been defeated, the card that was used to defeat the attack is placed on top of the attacking card and the entire stack moves back to the attacker as a new attack. The attacker must then beat the top card of the stack, sending the stack back again or flip the stack over, admitting defeat. The game requires some speed because as soon as a stack has moved away from your side or is flipped, the other players can no longer attack you with cards of the same number.

In addition to playing higher cards or trump, attacks can also be defeated by matching the card number. This also works against trump cards. For instance, a trump ace can be defeated by playing any other ace on top of it.

A player cannot be attacked with more stacks than he has cards in his hand nor can he or she play cards after they reach that amount. Flipped stacks still count toward this total. If a player has two flipped stacks and holds two cards in his hand, the player can neither play those cards nor be attacked by another player. If you defeat a stack and your opponent cannot accept any more attacks, you can discard the stack into the beaten cards pile.

Once all live stacks have been flipped, the player with the least stacks starts the next turn. If both players have the same number of stacks, the player who flipped/defeated his stacks first starts the next turn.

Card Castle top

This is a very simple game involving card castles. You will probably want a cloth surface and some old cards for this game. There is no need to shuffle the cards as their values and suits are not used. Simply place the deck on the table and begin play.

After a player starts the castle with two cards, each player takes a turn adding one or two cards onto the current castle. New cards must touch the cards already on the table, and if two cards are played they must also touch each other. Card positions cannot be duplicated, a card that overlaps more than half of another card is considered invalid.

If a player plays a card that does not touch the table, all other players must play their cards so that they do not touch the table as long as there are any cards standing. After the castle collapses, players can return to playing cards on the table.

If you cause any cards including the ones you placed this turn to shift into invalid positions you must pick them up and keep them, losing your turn. After the deck has run out, players continue playing by placing the cards collected in this fashion. When you have placed all collected cards, you win!