light card game recommendations
October 10, 2012 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Seeking recommendations for light to medium difficulty card games from one to 8 players. No boards, no game pieces, just cards. Yes, I know there is Boardgamegeek, but I would like current recommendations from the mefites. And I thank you. P.S. I like No Thanks, Coloretto, The Great Dalmuti, Rat-a-tat-cat, Rook. I don't like Bohnanza, Apples to Apples, Skip Bo, Hearts, Blink, Rage.
posted by luvmywife to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (39 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a Spades fanatic. You play with 4 players, and it's similar to bridge only Spades are always trump. Another version is Bid Whist, which is also similar to Bridge.

Crazy Eights or Uno are fun with a crowd of all ages.

If you're into dice then BUNCO is your game.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:24 PM on October 10, 2012

Cards against humanity --- like apples to apples but more hard core, so it depends on WHY you don't like apples to apples. If it's style of play you don't like, please ignore :)
posted by DoubleLune at 12:26 PM on October 10, 2012

I was going to suggest Cards Against Humanity, but I see that you don't like Apples to Apples. CAH is basically Apples to Apples but for people with twisted/sick senses of humor.
posted by Grither at 12:27 PM on October 10, 2012

I've gotten a fair amount of mileage out of Guillotine.
posted by valrus at 12:28 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

We played the heck out of Mille Bornes when I was a kid. Great game.

You said up to medium difficulty, which gets you into the always amazing Dominion (subject of a recent FPP, BTW).
posted by jbickers at 12:29 PM on October 10, 2012

Spot It! I've played this with kids of disparate ages, with big and small groups of adults, with people who don't otherwise like games much at all: works for just about everyone.

Set is another game that combines speed and picture/pattern recognition, but the learning curve is higher.

Jungle Speed is another one that even non-games types tend to like. Don't play drunk, that way lies madness.
posted by ActionPopulated at 12:30 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding, thirding, and fourthing Dominion! My husband and I play several rounds together every weekend, so it's excellent for just 2 players, and adding more is great fun as well.
posted by catch as catch can at 12:32 PM on October 10, 2012

Tichu and Mamma Mia seem right up your ally. Light, pick up and go card games with some meat on them.

San Juan is a lot of fun too, if less traditional.
posted by Garm at 12:34 PM on October 10, 2012

Also in the trick-take/bid is Wizard
posted by k5.user at 12:35 PM on October 10, 2012

posted by Androgenes at 12:39 PM on October 10, 2012

My wife and I have really been enjoying Lost Cities, a two-player game. It has a small board but you could easily find a way to dispense with that if need be.
posted by Levi Stahl at 12:39 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Many Cheapass Games would work for you if you could get ahold of a used copy. They have some way of printing free games right now, but their older stuff seems right up your alley. (Give Me the Brian, Lord of the Fries, Unexploded Cow, and others.) It looks like Paizo is publishing them now, but I'm not sure of the availability.

I just learned how to play Munchkin this weekend, which was awesome, since I tend to subvert games by trying not to win. That makes Munchkin pretty interesting. ;) I'm also a huge fan of Fluxx, and all the related versions of Fluxx.
posted by blurker at 12:40 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and for something a little more substantial and strategic, Seven Wonders. Only takes up to seven people, not eight though.

Much as I love it, Dominion only takes up to six people, even with expansions.
posted by ActionPopulated at 12:40 PM on October 10, 2012

As long as being able to play quietly isn't a requirement, there's Pit.

I'll also second Fluxx.
posted by Gev at 12:41 PM on October 10, 2012

Oh Hell is basically like Spades for any number of people - you start with 1 (or 2) cards per person, then each round you go up a card until you reach the maximum, then you go back down (or you start with as many cards as possible in the hand, then go down and back up). You turn over 1 of the remaining cards to decide trump, and your goal is to take exactly the number of tricks you bid -- no more, no fewer, you only get points if you're right.
posted by brainmouse at 12:44 PM on October 10, 2012

I'll second Fluxx and Guillotine, and also suggest Rack-O. It does have "racks" for your hand, but they're not an essential part of the game play — you could play without them if you trusted people not to rearrange their hands on the sly.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:45 PM on October 10, 2012

I like Pitch for 3 people or more. If you play partners, you can have a very fierce game with 8 people.
posted by thirdletter at 12:47 PM on October 10, 2012

Seconding Set. My best friend and I love it, and we are not "game people" at all, but it was our gaming geek friends who introduced it to us, so it has wide appeal.
posted by peacrow at 12:50 PM on October 10, 2012

Seven Wonders is a fantastic game, but it involves boards and pieces, not just cards.

Seconding Spot It!; the couple times I've played it, it was a lot of fun for everyone involved.

Fairy Tale has become our favorite card game to take with us when dining out; there's just enough time to get a game in between ordering and the arrival of our food.

Citadels is another great game. It's purely cards for game play, though there are small tokens used for coinage and a "King" token, but you could do without in a pinch. (Our house rule is whoever is the King has to wear this silly cardboard birthday crown.)
posted by xedrik at 12:52 PM on October 10, 2012

I would recommend Bang!. I've only played it with an Italian copy, and with Italian speakers translating everything important for me, but it still made good sense. Not particularly conceptually difficult. Good fun.

It is also, along with Settlers of Catan, on my list of games where innuendo is practically unavoidable.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 12:53 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fluxx, Munchkin, Mille Bornes, Gloom, Once Upon a Time, Anarchy, and I admit to having Lunch Money as a guilty pleasure that I can only play with a very specific set of friends.
posted by batmonkey at 12:54 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Race for the Galaxy is another great game. Purely card-driven for game play; there are chits used to track victory points, but that could easily be done with pen and paper. There are cheat sheets as well, which are about 6 x 10 inches or so. It's a fairly icon-driven game, which is the reason for the cheat sheets, and your first time through it can seem overwhelming because there are SO MANY SYMBOLS. But by the second game you've got it down, and will rarely need a cheat sheet, if at all. Does take a bit of table space for each player; I'd say allow about as much room as a desk calendar for each player to be comfortable. Not a game where everything is held in your hand, so not really outdoor/breeze friendly.

Biblios is one of the most interesting, "how did they ever come up with that?" sort of games I've played. Card-driven play, though there is a small board and five dice which are used as point trackers. The board and dice could be replaced by pen and paper, though you'd be scratching out/erasing a lot. The dice all start at three, and are used to track the current point value for each color of card. There are cards that allow players to increase or decrease the point values for various colors, so if you eliminated the dice, you'd be changing these values somewhat frequently throughout the game.
posted by xedrik at 1:00 PM on October 10, 2012

Turn the Tide is an easy, fun card game for 3-5 players.
posted by wsquared at 1:07 PM on October 10, 2012

I am NOT a card player (and I married into a family of them) and I actually like Phase 10. I saw a comparison online to Rage, which you say you don't like, but I took a look and it seems less complicated (i.e., doesn't have the bidding aspect, which is the kind of thing I hate). It's actually very similar to a standard-deck card game my husband learned from his mother, called Frustration (again, I like it better because it's slightly less complicated and doesn't involve "buying" cards from other players).
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

My family has been playing May I? for years, and we love it. Simple concept that can provide hours of fun.
posted by MsVader at 1:08 PM on October 10, 2012

You might like Falling. Cheapass Games has a free DIY version. They've made the deck available from a print-on-demand service called ArtsCow. The special tenth anniversary "goblin edition" is still available for sale.
posted by Boxenmacher at 1:12 PM on October 10, 2012

Came in to suggest Oh Hell. (Wizard is very similar, but you can play Oh Hell with standard playing cards, rather than buying the deck for Wizard.) It's great because it can easily take any number of players - a very rare feature. In my recommendations I'm playing loose with the number of players requirement - some of these only work with 3-6 for example.

It sounds like you like light games that are still "gamer's games", mathematically well balanced games that reward thinking. You don't like party games (Apples to Apples), speed-based games, etc.

King's Breakfast is a possibility - simple looking, nice math challenge behind it
Incan Gold
Saboteur - haven't played this but might work

Lost Cities is probably a good bet, tho it's just 2 player.

For Sale is an auction-style game, goes up to... 5 players I think?... but your mathematical mind may like it. If you do like it, there's a world of nice auction games to explore.

These are more complex, in that it's harder for first time players to join in easily because there's a lot to read and process at first. If you have an ongoing game group, these are worth looking into:
San Juan; Race for the Galaxy, Dominion.

I like Chrononauts and Aquarius in the "light and fun" category, though my gamer husband is not so crazy about them.

You could possibly try Citadels, not sure how it will work for your group. Ditto for Bang! Some groups love them, some don't.


Fluxx might drive you nuts; it has shifting goals.
Spot It and Set are both visual quick-identification games - fun but not mathematical/strategic.

Have you tried Munchkin or Killer Bunnies, which are both jokey goofy games? I'm guessing you might not like them, but good to be aware of.

Guillotine is also fun because of the goofy pictures, but you may find it to be like Bohnanza in that it doesn't reward the kind of thinking you enjoy.

Seven Wonders is totally fun, deeper and more thinky, and has more in the way of game pieces than you want, but maybe worth a look.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:18 PM on October 10, 2012

Dutch Blitz or Ligretto is another possibility. It's very addictive for some people.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:20 PM on October 10, 2012

Fluxx is just one of the many fine card games available from Looney Labs. You might also try their Aquarius and Chrononauts games.
posted by Rash at 1:25 PM on October 10, 2012

Canasta is great fun for two or four people. I am also fond of Whist, which is an earlier, simpler version of bridge. And for two people, try Russian Bank, a form double solitaire.
posted by ubiquity at 1:27 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Set.
posted by brevator at 1:35 PM on October 10, 2012

I love, love, love Quiddler. I've played it in various social circles and never met anyone who didn't end up wanting to buy the game for themselves.
posted by kariebookish at 1:38 PM on October 10, 2012

Seconding Mille Bornes! I used to play this all the time with my brother. We have the original french version, so we learned a weeeeeeee bit o french. It was lots of fun!

I also recommend Euchre, Spit, and Nuts.

Although I play Nuts where everybody has their own deck of cards, one point for every card played on the table, two points taken away for every card left in the home deck. Its basically multi-person solitare and it sooo much fun. I also play with my family of all different ages at Christmas.
posted by fuzzysoft at 2:08 PM on October 10, 2012

[Supporting LobsterMitten's answer]

Nertz, or the commercialized version Dutch Blitz, is a must. There are several minor variations on the rules, but simply it's like double solitaire, except (n) solitaire. Often played well in pairs.

Learning the proper names from the wiki diagram for the first time, player 1 would control the river and nertz piles, while player 2 would control the stream and help out player 1.

Very fast paced.

For the record, I find regular cards much simpler than the Dutch Blitz cards. Dutch Blitz tries to simplify it, but you have to figure out the maides/gents or whatever it is and the colors verse the suits we already know and love and have ingrained in our memory.
posted by Folk at 7:39 PM on October 10, 2012

Gang of Four, although easy is really only for four people. Kakerlaken Poker is super easy and great with large groups.

If you're interested in more difficult games, tarot (the Italian/Spanish kind) and its friend scopa could be good.

You ask about single player card games, which brings to mind my favorite solitaire games: pyramid, quadrille and golf (fan tan).
posted by fiercekitten at 9:03 PM on October 10, 2012

In my family, we play a LOT of Hand and Foot. The rules/points/etc. on this website are slightly different from the version we play, but that doesn't matter so much. The game seems like it's not light at first (when I taught it to my college roommate, she thought I was making it up), but it just has a complicated system of points to apply after each hand. It's a good hanging around and spending time together kind of game.
posted by linettasky at 10:05 PM on October 10, 2012

My family loves Egyptian Ratscrew. We get pretty competitive and it often goes full-contact, but tamer versions are fun too.
posted by Fuego at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2012

My kids & I play cribbage and Gin Rummy. They play various solitaire games when I am not available.

Cribbage is sort of two games in one, which adds nice variety. A similar thing that I learned as a kid was Tripoli, and I would like to get/make a board (which you could live without, I think) so I can teach them. Rules and game layout here.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:59 PM on October 11, 2012

My suggestion for 3 or 4 people is either pinocle or hearts. Both have very mild learning curves (you can learn both in about 1/2 hour). for 8 people, use 2 decks or two tables.
posted by MrPaladin at 2:20 PM on October 11, 2012

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