Or: Whee, What a Lot of Fun THIS Is.
Rummikub, aka Rummycube, aka Rummicube, aka Rummy Cube, is an enchanting little way to scratch off a few gray hours from you and your loved ones' lifetimes.
It is equally effective against people you hate.
A tile based game, it was designed to take elements of rummy, dominoes, mah-jongg, and chess. Naturally, then, it's really rather confusing to start with, but you do pick up on it as you play.
Enough people have and continue to do so, by the way, to make it the third most popular game in the world--according to Lemada Light Industries, one of its original distributors.
Set up like Scrabble, pieces like a deck of cards. And plenty of things for your children and/or pets to lose or swallow, so be careful. The box says Ages 8 and Up for a reason.
- 104 tiles of which there are four sets-each a different color (blue, red, black, and orange, and each containing 26 tiles numbered 1-13. That means there are TWO of each number in each color.
- 2 joker tiles-funny (and I always thought sinister) looking faces.
- 4 gamepiece racks.
What You're Going to Do With Them
Try to be the first to place all the tiles in your rack onto the table.
How You're Going to Do That
Here's where things get a bit dicey. After everyone draws 14 tiles, they will arrange them on their racks into sets called 'groups' and 'runs'.
- A Group: Three or four tiles, same number, different color. Rummikub's answer to poker's three or four of a kind.
- A Run: Three or more consecutive numbers, same color. Think straight flush.
That being done, and with Rummikub faces on, play can begin.
Since the goal is to dump your tiles as soon as possible, tile manipulation counts for everything. The strategy here is to build on the sets put out during your opponents' turns; there are several ways you can do this.
- Add tiles to make a set
You can drop as many tiles as will make sense, and they don't have to be related to each other. For example--if 4, 5, 6 is on the table in blue, you can add a blue three to the run. In the same turn, you can add a blue seven to the other end.
Likewise, you could do the above and add to a group. If there are 8s down, and you've got one, you can lay it out.
- Remove a tile from a group and start a new set
You've got a nice little run set up--but you're missing a number that's already in play. Yoink! Take it, and lay'em down. But you have to leave at least three tiles in the group from which you stole.
- Giveth and Taketh
My favorite move, best demonstrated by example.
Your rack: Blue 6, Red 6, Orange 9.
On the table: Orange 6, Orange 7, Orange 8.
Sure, you could just put down the Orange 9. But you could also put down the Orange 9, then take the Orange 6 and make a new group of three with the two sixes you've got. Make sense?
Two of each number in each color, remember? So if Greens 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 are down, and you've got another Green 4, snatch the 2 and 3, and make your own run.
- Combo Act
As above, but you borrow from more than one place. Your Orange 2 gets added to the Red 2 from its group or run, and the Blue 2 from it's group or run.
- The Multi-Split-Take-Add-Combo Extraordinaire!
Just what it sounds like. You use the above moves in various combinations to dump as many tiles as you can. For advanced clever people only.
The Joker functions like a wild card in poker or blank tile in Scrabble--it takes on the value and color you need. If you can replace it on the table with what it's standing in for, help yourself, and use it for your own nefarious purposes.
When Does it End?
When the first player
to clean his rack yells out 'Rummikub.' Seriously, you have to yell it out. Really. It's like Biggie-Sizing
. You have to say
As in gin rummy, the losers--let's face it, that's what the are--add up the value of their remaining tiles, which becomes their negative score. The combined sum of all the losers' scores is the winner's positive score.
The Joker is worth 30 if you're caught with it at game's end, so beware.
Best thing to do is decide on point total before you play. First one to two hundred, three hundred, etc. Rummikub is a game of multiple rounds, so make sure you have a couple hours, a television, and other things to prevent you going nuts.
Just because you can doesn't necessarily mean that you should. You don't want to set down tiles that will be too much in aid of your opponent clearing his rack and ending the game. Learn to count tiles.
How Long Have People Been Doing This with Their Time?
So far, about seventy years. The game was developed in the 1930s by Ephraim Hertzano, who hand-made the first sets in his family's backyard, then went door-to-door for awhile until they caught on.
At this point in time, Rummikub has sold over 30 million units in 48 countries and 24 languages.
Pressman Toys brought it to the U.S. in 1964, and it became that country's best-seller in 1977.
Personally, I haven't played in years. Our set came in a wooden box with a sliding cover, which was painted red and had white lettering. It was my father's, from the late 1970s. So I write this more for sentiment than contemporary recommendation. But millions of people can't all be wrong.
For the Quest