A crazy card game
from Cheapass Games
Like all Cheapass games, this one has a story that goes along with it. As usual, the story is a little morbid. In this case, everybody is falling. You're all going to die when you hit the ground, and the best thing you could think of to do was to see who could hit the ground last.
The game is very quick; it essentially takes place in the time it takes to deal out all the cards. One player is the dealer, and doesn't otherwise participate in the game. Usually you will play several games in a session and the winner of one game will deal the next one.
There are eight different cards each repeated several times in the deck: Hit, Skip, Split, Push, Grab, Extra, Stop, and Ground. (I hope I've got all those names right; this is from memory.) The dealer begins by separating out all the Ground cards and shuffling the rest, then placing the Ground cards on the bottom of the deck. He starts dealing cards to players one-at-a-time in clockwise order starting from his left, at a steady pace. (This is modified by cards played during the game, though.) All cards dealt to a player are dealt face-up on top of the same pile, except as described below for Split cards.
Players who have been dealt cards can use them to try to affect their chances of being the last player to hit the ground. Some of the cards (Hit, Skip, and Split) are played by placing them in front of your pile(s) of cards, or in front of another player's cards. A player can only have one card in front of them at one time (except Extras, which are played on another card). Since everybody is playing at the same time, this sometimes gets a little chaotic, and in some cases the dealer may have to stop play for a moment to straighten things out if they get confused. The first card played wins, if two players try to do contradictory things.
Some other rules about playing cards:
- You can only use one hand to play cards at any one time, though you can switch hands when needed. Players who have trouble following this rule should play with one hand behind their back.
- To play a card, you must first pick it up from the top of one of your piles. After you have picked up a card, you cannot pick up another card until you have played that one.
- It is permissible to pick up a card you have no way to play at that time, but you will just have to hold it until you can play it.
- If you pick up a card by mistake and have no way to play it, or, due to somebody else's play, the way to play it vanishes, then you're stuck with that card in your hand until you find a way to play it (or until you hit the Ground).
When the dealer starts dealing to a player with a card in front of his piles, the card affects how the dealer deals to that player. These effects are described below, along with the rules for playing each type of card:
Push cards are playable only when the player playing them has a Hit, Skip, or Split card in front of him. He plays this card by pushing the card in front of him to another player (who of course must not have any other card in front of him already), and then putting the Push card into the discard pile. If there are any Extras on the card pushed, they follow along with it.
Grab cards are just the opposite of Push cards. These are played on a card in front of another player, which is then dragged in front of the player playing the card, and the Grab is discarded.
Stop cards can be played in two ways:
- Hit cards are played in front of yourself or another player. When the dealer deals to a player with a Hit card in front of him, he deals an extra card to that player, and drags the Hit card into the middle of the table, where the discard pile is formed.
- Skip cards are played in front of yourself or another player. When the dealer deals to a player with a Skip card in front of him, he deals no cards to that player, and instead drags the Skip card into the discard pile.
- Split cards are played in front of yourself or another player. When the dealer deals to a player with a Split card in front of him, he deals a card into a new pile beside the player's existing pile(s), as well as a card into each existing pile. When the dealer returns to this player, he continues to deal a card into each pile, as long as the player has multiple piles. (A player only gets rid of a pile by picking up its last card.) Hits and Skips on a player with multiple piles affect each pile; a Skip skips all of them, and a Hit adds an extra card to each of them.
- Extra cards are played on a Hit, Skip, or Split card. It is permissible to play more than one Extra on a single card. When the dealer deals to a player with an Extra and some other card in front of him, the extra counts like a duplicate of the other card. This works slightly differently for each card type:
- Extra + Hit: The dealer deals an extra card for each Extra as well as an extra card for the Hit, so Hit + Extra = 3 cards, Hit + 2 Extras = 4 cards, etc. After dealing the cards, the dealer drags the whole mess of Hit + Extras into the discard pile.
- Extra + Skip: The dealer deals no cards to the player, and drags the Extra (one of them, if there are multiples) into the discard pile, leaving the Skip behind to indicate a Skip of the following turn. (It is possible that the Skip gets Pushed or Grabbed away before that happens, though.)
- Extra + Split: The dealer adds a new pile for each Extra as well as the Split. Split + Extra = 2 new piles; Split + 2 Extras = 3 new piles, etc.
The Ground cards start the game all gathered together at the bottom of the deck. When a Ground card is dealt to a player, that player has hit the ground, and is out of the game (unless he can counter it with a Stop).
- A Stop card can be used to counteract any other card played, as it is being played. This is the one exception to "first card played wins". The Stop card and whatever card it was played against are discarded.
- If a player has a Stop card in his hand when the Dealer deals him a Ground card, he can play it on the Ground card to prevent it from being played. (The Ground card goes back on the deck to be dealt to the next player, and the Stop is discarded.) This can postpone a player's encounter with the ground by one turn, which can be just long enough to be the last to reach the ground, and thus win the game. Of course, if the player has any more Skips or Stops available, he may be able to postpone hitting the ground even longer. Also note that a Stop card only stops one Ground card, so if the player has more than one pile, the next pile will be dealt a Ground card unless the player can quickly pick up another Stop card.
There isn't much strategy to this game, but there is some:
- The only cards that can help a player live longer at the end of the game are Skips and Stops, so the general idea is to collect as large a continuous group of these in a pile as possible, and try to have these ready when the Ground cards turn up.
- If you're relying on Stops at all near the end, you want to get down to only one pile so they last longer.
- Early in the game, you want to play Hits and maybe even Splits on yourself, so you are dealt more cards and thus have more of a chance of accumulating those useful Skips and Stops. But late in the game, you want to play Hits and Splits on other players, especially on the player to your immediate left, since the player who is receiving more cards is more likely to be the one to get dealt the first Ground card.
- Try to avoid getting stuck with a card in your hand you can't play.