Rummikub – The Game of Patterns
If there is one game that is whispered in the hush tones of legend in the Deinlein household, it is Rummikub. I thought I would do one more easy to learn board games before jumping into some more complex ones for future episodes of Whatever Wednesday.
I have been playing Rummikub since I was 7. It is a very easy game to teach, but takes years to master. I still don’t win every game I play against my father, but normally it does end up being between the two of us on who wins. When I got married, I brought this game as part of my dowry, yes men can have those too. She has since learned and become adept at the game as well, and now that our nieces are finally at the age where board games are cool, we are teaching them too. And so far, I can successfully report that they love it too.
Rummikub combines a bunch of different aspects that many will recognize. Like UNO, you are trying to get rid of all of your pieces before anyone else. Like poker, you try to create 3 or 4 of a kind, or straight flushes. If you have ever played Gin Rummy before, this will be an easy learn for you, as it is based off of Rummy. The game itself involves placing tiles on the table in different combinations. And then as you play, the board shuffles on you. The great and terrible thing about this game is that it is all about doing mental acrobatics on a constantly changing and sliding hill of sand. Playing with all new players, the game can be very straight forward, simply play the tiles as you can. Play with people who have been playing for years, and the board can be completely and utterly different by the time it gets back to your turn. It is a strategy game simple enough for small children and complex enough for masterminds.
How to Play… Abridged
The game starts with you shuffling all of the tiles on face down on the table, or as my mother-in-law is a genius, throw them all in a cloth bag and shake them up. Each player gets a board, onto which you will draw 13 tiles. This is your starting lot. Your goal is now to get rid of these. Now if you have not played tiles yet in the game. That should be now. You just started. You have an extra requirement. The first time you play onto the board, you must play 30 points worth of tiles. Spoiler, each tile has it’s point value on it. Once you have paid this tole, you never have that requirement again. You are freed from the bondage of this condition. Gone the shackles of this superfluous demand. And you can pay that in anyway you want. Any number of tiles can be used to play this price. So if you use 3 tiles to pay your 30 points, that is cool. If you use all 13, you are the luckiest son of a gun I have ever met, and please, please buy me a lottery ticket.
How do I play a tile on my turn? Simple. All tiles can be played in one of two ways. Remember the following, it could save your life… okay, not really. “Same number, different color. Same color, different number.” So what does that ramble mean? If you are playing tiles with the same number, they must go together with other tiles of the same number, but they cannot have the same color. There are 4 different colors of tiles. Normally, blue, black, red, and yellow, but different versions have different colors. If I am playing tiles of the same color, they cannot be the same number. Basically the same color tiles will always be played in runs like straight flushes from poker.
In the above picture we have two people playing with open boards in front of them. As you can see, each set of tiles involves selected groups in the arrangements I described. You will also notice that there are no groups smaller than 3. I promise, I was getting to this rule, but I want to talk about it in terms of rearranging the board. Because rearranging the board is getting into the advanced game play.
As I stated just a few lines ago, there is a requirement that each group has a minimum of 3 tiles. Technically they can reach a max of 13, but that is less important as a rule. When you go about playing your tiles, you must always follow the rule that the group, not the number of tiles you play, must contain at least 3 tiles. You must likewise follow that rule whenever you rearrange the board. Why would you want to rearrange the board? Well because it changes the options of what you can play. Not just for you, but for your opponents as well. Let’s say you have a black 7 and an orange 7 to play. On the board above, they cannot be added to the groups of 7’s because they would be in violation of the same number, different color rule. But what you can do is steal the blue 7 in the run of blue 7-10, and then you would have three 7’s of different colors. You can rearrange as much or as little of the board as you want, so long as you follow the rules. However, once something is on the board, it must stay on the board. So you cannot play an orange 4, in the above example, and remove the orange 1 from the board. With these tools, I turn you loose. That is all you need to play this game. You can now see the genius of the game. Simple to learn, impossible to master. Have some fun my friends. An when this madness is all over, you can always hit me up to play a game at B&B. I am also including the link to Amazon to find the super nice version I put at the top of the article. But inexpensive ones can be found on Amazon, Family Time Games/ other Friendly Neighborhood Game Shops, or at Goodwill for 99 cents apparently.