Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Runs and sets

To carry on with the card-playing post from yesterday, I'd like to share another card game that is near and dear to my heart.  Runs and Sets is a game I learned to play at my grandparents' house, and was a ritual every time we visited.  Now that both my grandparents have passed on, and visits with my own parents are not all-weekend affairs (we simply do a 10-minute drive home to tuck children into bed), it is a very rare treat indeed that we play Runs and Sets.  I hope to get a couple of games in this holiday season, though, and perhaps your family would like to try it out too.  Here's how to play:

What is involved:

  • The game works best with at least 3 players.
  • Have one deck of cards for every two players - round up if you have an odd number of players.  So, if you have 4 players, you need two decks.  If you have 5 players, you need 3 decks.  Remove jokers.
  • Paper and pencil for keeping score
  • Optional:  Each player chips in 15 cents to the pot.  

How to play:

  • There are 7 rounds in this game, involving different combinations of runs and sets:
    • Round 1:  2 Sets
    • Round 2:  1 Set, 1 Run
    • Round 3:  2 Runs
    • Round 4:  2 Sets, 1 Run
    • Round 5:  1 Set, 2 Runs
    • Round 6:  3 Sets
    • Round 7:  3 Runs
  • All players are trying to put together the combination of cards for the same round - sets are at least 3 cards with the same number; runs are at least 4 cards in a row of the same suit.
  • Each player is dealt 11 cards for every round.  Then the top card from the deck is turned up (start of the discard pile).
  • Each player takes turns (clockwise) and can either take the card from the deck or from the discard pile.
  • If a player would like a card that is discarded, but it is not his/her turn, it may be bought.  To buy a card, the player declares they would like to buy.  If no other player before them wants the card, the player takes the top discard card, plus 2 cards off the deck.  2 buys are allowed per round - the maximum number of cards a player can hold in one round is 17.  Once the round is done, the number of buys resets, and all players can buy twice in the next and all subsequent rounds.
  • Once a player has completed the combination, the cards in the combination are laid down in the space in front of the player.  So, if the combination is 2 sets, both sets must be laid down.  Then the player can add to other players' laid-down combinations.  
  • A player cannot lay down more than what is required in the combination.  For example, if a player has gathered 3 sets, but the requirement is only 2 sets, only 2 sets can be laid down.
  • There are no wild cards.
  • Play continues until a player can go out without putting a card in the discard pile - the last card in the player's hand must be laid on a player's laid-down combination.  This often means that a player is holding a "play card" (a card that plays somewhere on the table) and must draw a play card.  While the player is holding a play card they are "on the pot".  This must be announced by the player.
  • A play card can not be discarded, even if the player has not laid down.  It must be held in the player's hand until he/she can lay down, or the card is no longer a play card (i.e. someone else played the play card).
  • When a player goes out, all others must count the points in their hand.  Face cards are worth 10, all others are worth their number value.  Aces are low and worth 1 point.  If you are playing with money, the player who went out gets 5 cents.
  • Play then moves to the next round.  For example, once round 1 is done, all players would then move on to round 2, even if they did not lay down.
  • At the end of the game, the player with the lowest number of points wins (and gets what is left of the money - the pot).
I hope that's clear.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Enjoy!

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