Old Maid is a Simple Card Game

One of the first card games I ever played, and one of the simplest games, was Old Maid. (War is probably simpler, but that’s another story.)

For those who have never played Old Maid, here are the rules using a store-bought deck of Old Maid cards. This deck consists of multiple pairs of matching cards and one Old Maid card.

One player shuffles the cards and deals them one at a time around the circle of players until all of the cards have been dealt. It doesn’t matter if some players have more cards than others. Each player looks at his cards and removes any matching pairs of cards, placing them face-up on the table.

Then the players take turns playing, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise around the circle. On your turn, take a card, unseen, from the first player to your right who has cards left to play. If that card matches a card in your hand, place that pair of cards on the pile of matches. If you run out of cards, you stop taking turns. You simply observe for the rest of the game.

Keep playing until the last pair of cards has been matched. The player left holding the Old Maid loses the game.

You can play Old Maid with a standard deck of playing cards. Just add a Joker, which takes the place of the Old Maid.

You can shorten the game if you remove cards from the deck. A store-bought Old Maid deck is usually smaller than a deck of playing cards. So you could remove the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s.

You can also control the length of the game based on how you match cards. If you match by rank and color (the Six of Clubs matches only the Six of Spades), the game is longer. If you match by rank alone (the Six of Clubs matches either the Six of Spades or the Six of Diamonds or the Six of Hearts), the game is shorter. And if you match by rank and opposite-color (the Six of Clubs matches either the Six of Diamonds or the Six of Hearts), the game is an in-between length.

You can also play without the Joker. You can remove a Queen from the deck so that the unmatched Queen becomes the Old Maid, or you can remove a King so that the unmatched King becomes the Old Bachelor. Or you can remove some other card. You can even remove a card so that the players don’t see which card has been removed.

You can remove specific multiple cards. You can remove a King, a Queen, and a Jack.

Or you can remove multiple cards without the players seeing them. For instance, remove five random cards. If there are no pairs in these cards, there are five Old Maids. If there is one pair, there are three Old Maids. If there are two pairs, there is just one Old Maid. Nobody knows which cards are Old Maids or how many Old Maids there are.

However you play, Old Maid is still a game of random selection. You select a card randomly from another player. There is some skill involved in matching cards, but not as much skill as is used in most other card games.

So how about a change in the rules? How about playing Old Maid so that on your turn you pass a card to another player?

The new rules are as follows. The cards are dealt as in Old Maid. Each player still looks at her cards and removes any matching pairs of cards, placing them face-up on the table. And the players take turns playing, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise around the circle. But before regular turns begin, the dealer picks a card from his hand and places it face-down on the table near the player to his left.

On your turn, look at the card that was passed to you. If that card matches a card in your hand, place that pair of cards face-up on the pile of matches. Otherwise, place the passed card back face-down on the table. Pick a card from your hand and lay it face-down by the first player to your left who has cards left to play. Then pick up the card that was passed to you and put it in your hand.

The rest of the game is played just like Old Maid. The player who ends up with the Old Maid loses the game. But there is more room for strategy. You can keep track of the cards that you passed and the cards that were matched. You can use that knowledge to help you choose which card to pass.

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Dominion – Intrigue Card Game Review

The world of Dominion is about to get way darker and more sinister in Dominion: Intrigue, the first standalone expansion for the hit card game that took the world by storm. Mingle with shady conspirators, torturers and swindlers. Meet your contacts in the secret chamber or the shanty town. Make sure everyone knows who’s in charge around here. As they say, nice guys finish last. And the race for Dominion is about to get really dirty!

Dominion: Intrigue is a standalone expansion for the award-winning Dominion card game that shook the gaming world in 2008. Being a standalone expansion, it can be played together with the base game, but it can also be played just as well on its own. This review focuses on the Dominion: Intrigue expansion. If you want to know more about how the base game is played, please read our Dominion review.

As the name implies, the theme in Dominion: Intrigue is all about underhanded dealings and mysterious agents using covert tactics to help you achieve control. A large number of the cards in this set support that theme, actively tampering with your opponents’ hands and decks, and forcing them to trash valuable cards. A new card type is also introduced: cards that act as both victory cards as well as either treasure or action cards.

There are a number of dangerous-sounding cards in the set, with names like swindler, minion, saboteur and torturer. They also have dangerous abilities to match. The Saboteur is able to force opponents to trash an expensive card and replace it with something cheaper. For the same cost as a Silver, the Swindler lets you swap a card from opponents’ decks with another card of your choosing, in addition to providing you with 2 coins. The Torturer forces opponents to either discard 2 cards or draw a curse card, in addition to letting you draw 3 cards! These action-attack cards are just a few examples of the cards that will make life really difficult for your opponents. Some people have complained that Dominion is like a game of solitaire where you just focus on your own deck. Well, it’s evident that there’s going to be a whole lot more interaction in this expansion!

There is also a new type of card that was introduced in this expansion, or more accurately a new combination of card types. There are now cards that are a combination of a victory card and either an action or treasure card. Previously, players were hesitant (with good reason) to buy victory cards early, as drawing too many of them would mean you wouldn’t be able to play or buy anything. These new cards solve that problem. The Great Hall gives you an extra card and action in addition to a victory point, while the Harem gives you 2 coins and 2 victory points. These cards are a bit more expensive than comparable cards, but that’s the price you have to pay for flexibility!

There are plenty of other interesting cards in the set, including the Duke who is worth more victory points the more Duchies you have. There is also the Coppersmith that doubles the value of coppers, and the Bridge that makes every card cost 1 less. There is also the Wishing Well that rewards you if you can correctly guess the top card of your deck, and the Masquerade card that makes players give cards to each other. Plenty of fun to go around!

It is great to see Dominion grow with expansions like this, adding new themes and mechanics to an already-strong core game. The theme idea is really nice, allowing players to roleplay their quest for dominion, whether it be via open war or through subterfuge and stealth. There are also more thematic expansions coming our way; as of mid-2010, the Seaside and Alchemy expansions are available, and the Prosperity expansion is just round the corner.

Being a standalone expansion set with so many new game-changing cards, Dominion: Intrigue is awesome for both beginners and experienced players alike. You don’t need the base game to play it, but mixing the cards here with the core cards gives you so many more game variations and opens up very interesting strategies. And last but by no means least, this expansion allows up to 6 players to play the game!

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