Monday, March 23, 2015

A Pairs Variant From the Editor

I'm a fan of light card games, particularly those that I can carry in my backpack and break out at the bar over drinks, or with my family at dinner. Pairs, funded through Kicksarter by Cheapass Games in 2014, fits this description perfectly!

I had a chance to play Pairs and Continuous Pairs with James Ernest, the designer and owner of Cheapass Games, while at GAMA Trade Show last week. I was inspired to try to design my own Pairs variant, and James was gracious enough to encourage me to post it publicly. Here goes!

Threes (A Pairs variant for three players):

Use a single Pairs deck. Play by Continuous Pairs rules (play doesn't stop when one player goes out, and that player receives a new "starting" card when their turn comes back around. When the deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile, discard 5 cards face-down, and keep playing).

Each turn, the active player can either take a card from the deck or take the lowest card in play and add it to their scoring pile. Unlike in Pairs, players don't score cards until they have three of a single card in play.

If a player takes a card from the deck and receives a 3, every card that player has in play is discarded, including the 3, and play continues with the next player.

If three cards in a player's scoring pile make a three-card set (a three-card straight or three of a kind) those cards are immediately discarded (the player isn't eliminated if he or she would briefly exceed 33 points before those cards were discarded).

The round is over when a player's scoring pile has 33 or more points. Just like in Pairs, there is only one loser, and everybody else wins. If you try my variant, or if you have your own Pairs variant, please let me know about it in the comments!

JR Honeycutt is a full-time husband and game-player, Community Manager at Level 99 Games, and co-host of The Nerd Nighters and Back It. You can find him on Twitter at @JayAhre or at a Friendly Local Game Store in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. Some of his reviews are also published in Ravage Magazine or at Tabletop Gaming News

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