Creights is a very simple game for three or more players. (It can be played with only two, but it's stupid.) Basically, it is the same as Uno (R), in that each player gets a certain number of cards, there is a play pile and an draw pile, and you are trying to get rid of all of your cards. You must play either the same suit or the same rank as the currently showing card, although there are exceptions. You must play at your turn if you have a valid play available; otherwise, you draw a card and play continues with the next player. When a player plays his last card, the round ends and the other players get points for all the cards remaining in their hands. Whoever has the lowest score at the end wins.

Here is what all of the cards do:

The first round, the dealer deals out eight cards to each player, then takes the remaining cards and puts them face down in a pile in the center (the input pile). He flips over the top card to start the play pile, and the top card is treated exactly as if the dealer had played it. So if it is a wild, the dealer calls the suit (he must do so without first looking at his cards); if it is a four, the first player to the dealer's left is skipped, etc. Play begins (ordinarily) at the dealer's left and proceeds clockwise, unless the first card flipped over is one that changes the direction of play or the next player. The following round, the player to the left of the dealer becomes the dealer for that hand and deals out seven cards to each player; six the next round, five the next, all the way down to one (dealer keeps rotating) and then all the way back up to eight. (Very often the round of one can be surprisingly interesting. The best round of one that I can remember occurred in a three-player game. I, as dealer, flipped the two of spades over, and was disappointed when my left-hand opponent played the two of hearts, thus going out. However, the round had not yet ended; my right-hand opponent proceeded to play the ace of diamonds, bringing the crank back around to me, while both of my opponents were out. I had not yet looked at my card, but when I did so, I noticed that it was the two of diamonds! So I gleefully piled the crank up to seven and watched as lefty miserably drew his seven cards and endured the cackling that ensued from righty and myself. He scored up 165 while righty and I of course got 0.)

If, at any time during your turn (except for only at the beginning), you will have only one card remaining in your hand, you must say, "One card" before drawing any cards out of your hand on that turn. For example:

In all of these instances, you must say, "One card" before playing any cards on that turn. The penalties for not doing so are severe; at your next regular (i.e. non-crank) turn, you will lose your turn and draw two cards. If the round ends before you have done so, you draw two cards before scoring. If you die, those two cards will be placed in your grave as a reminder to others not to forget to say, "One card." There is no way to avoid getting those two cards except by remembering to say, "One card."

Cranks: As you may note, the play of a 2 starts what is known as a "crank." During a crank, the normal rules of the game are suspended (except for the "One card" rule; players must still say, "One card" if applicable) and each player must play an ace or a deuce at his turn. The value of the crank begins at two; play of an ace increases the value of the crank by one, and play of a two increases the value of a crank by two. When play eventually comes around to a player who cannot play a two or an ace (because he doesn't have any in his hand), the crank ends with that player drawing a number of cards equal to the current value of the crank and also losing his turn for that turn; then play proceeds as usual starting with the next player.

Shuffle Pressures: If, at any time during the round, you must draw one or more cards, but there are no more cards remaining in the draw pile, you are tagged with a "shuffle pressure." There are three consequences to getting a shuffle pressure: you must take all but the top card of the play pile, shuffle them and put them face down for a new draw pile; everyone else laughs at you; and you get five points. All that isn't so bad, really (except possibly for the laughing). But the next time it happens to you, you get 10 points; then 20, then 40, and so on. A record of shuffle pressures is kept and is cumulative between different rounds of the same game (a small dot is placed next to your score for the round on the scoresheets; two dots if you get two in one round). As I said, it's not so bad the first time, but it can get ugly later on, especially with everyone else going after you to give you more. I have seen a player (I will withhold the name to avoid incurring further emotional trauma to this individual) rack up a total of 163,835 points in shuffle pressures during a normal 15-round game. So be careful!

If, at any time during a round, a player takes a shuffle pressure, and there are also no cards left in the play pile (except for the one on top), the shuffle pressure is scored and the round ends on the spot; everybody drops his hand and scores up. Since 51 of the cards must be in somebody's hand in order for this to occur, rather large scores will result. I have seen a natural (no shuffle-pressure) score of over 600 attained in one round through this scenario.

Scoring: Scoring is very important to the general strategy in creights. It is a general rule of thumb that the better a card is for you when you play it, the worse it is to have in your hand at the end of a round. Here's the breakdown: 8's are worth 50 points; 5's, 6's and 9's are worth 30; 7's and 10's are 25; 2's are 20; 4's are 15; J's, Q's and K's are 10; 3's are worth 3; and A's are worth one. However, 3's are very important to the scoring. If you have a three in your hand at the end of a round, it can cover another card so that the value of the second card becomes zero (the 3 still counts for 3). This is very useful; for example, if you have a 3, a J and a 6 at the end, you get 10 for the J, 3 for the 3 and 0 for the 6 since it gets covered, for a total of only 13. (Of course, you could choose to cover the jack instead, but then you'd get 33.) This rule has three exceptions: a 3 cannot cover a 3 (implying that it also cannot cover itself), an ace or an 8. (So 8's are very, very bad to have at the end of a round.) And any threes left which cannot cover a card earn you a hundred points (read: lots). So be careful not to have too many 3's. On the other hand, if you have only 3's left at the end of a round, each is worth minus 50; this is very good, but also rather rare.

Other miscellaneous rules:

Even when the last card is played to end the round, its effect still takes place and the round won't actually end until the effect is completed. So if you end with a five, everyone else gets a card before scoring (and they can get shuffle pressures, too). If you end with a deuce, or if you go out while a crank is in progress, the crank continues and it can come back around to you, at which point you're back in the game with lots of cards (this exact situation has occurred too many times to count in my experience). Furthermore, if you end with the seven of diamonds, the player across from you gets a card (as with any other seven), and he also has to buy you a beer (not necessarily immediately). This rule is heavily enforced, so don't dismiss it as a mere quirk or oddity. It is a part of the game. (Even if you're not 21 and/or you don't drink, a beer is still owed.)

Penalty cards (not for beginners): If, during the course of a round, a player does something stupid (i.e. plays out of turn, makes an illegal play, takes long enough to make it obvious that he is unaware that it is his turn to play, calls an invalid suit after playing a nine, says "One card" when it doesn't apply, etc), he gets a penalty card (affectionately known as a "dumbass card") and all of the other players shout "Dumbass!" at him. If the mistake happens to be playing out of turn, the card played is returned in addition to the dumbass card being given. If the player makes an illegal play at his own turn, the card is returned, a dumbass card given, and the turn forfeited, unless it is during a crank, in which case the turn cannot be forfeited. A small clarification about playing nines: the suit called must be the same color as the suit currently in play, not the same color as the nine itself. Wilds have no suit affiliation; they take on the color of the suit called when they are played. If a nine is turned over to begin a round, dealer calls any suit he wishes (without looking at his hand). If the dealer looks at his hand, he gets a dumbass card. Like shuffle pressures and the "One card" penalty, dumbass cards are to be avoided; I have seen someone get a shuffle pressure because of a dumbass card. I have even seen someone play a nine on a red suit with one card left in the draw pile, call "spades," get a dumbass card, and promptly call "clubs" to get another dumbass and a shuffle pressure (admittedly, this scene took place at 4:00 am in a hotel room). But dumbass cards can always be avoided with alert play, so be on your toes.

Well, that's it. You've made it, and you are now ready to play creights with two or three of your friends. Unless, of course, you want to play with five or more players, in which case you need to use the double-deck rules, which are quite a bit more complicated. Are you ready?

If you have any comments or questions about creights, send email to

Back to Joon's homepage