In today’s fast paced world where everyone is plugged in and crazed over the latest tech gadget that is coming out, it is rare to find something “old school” to grab our attention. It is amazing to remember that you don’t need technology to have a very fun and entertaining time.
On our last snowboarding trip, my friend Ashley introduced us to the card game Egyptian Ratscrew. It is a game that combines pattern recognition and reflexes. I’m all about games that can combine intelligence and physical abilities! As we sat in our hotel room thinking of what to do, Ashley starts to tell us about this game. After listening to her explain it for a bit we suggest that we just start playing the game and learn as we go. I tend to think it is more fun that way.
Basically you deal out the cards to all the players and keep them face down. When it is your turn, you play a card from your hand. If you play a face card the next person has a certain number of attempts to also play a face card. Each face card has a value (Ace = 4, King = 3, Queen = 2, Jack = 1 or you can reverse the order). If that player fails to play a face card you win the pile.
What really adds to the fun of the game is that there are certain card combinations that you can slap at any time when someone plays a card on the pile. The two combinations we used were “sandwiches” and “doubles”. Doubles are if the two top cards on the pile have the same value. So like the 3 of clubs and the 3 of diamonds. Sandwiches are when there is one card in-between two cards of the same value. An example would be 5 of hearts, 7 of spades, and 5 of spades. You have to be quick though because if the next player plays another card on the pile, then the ability to slap that combination is lost. There are apparently tons of other combinations you can establish as slappable but we just played with those two.
Also beware slapping at the wrong time as it will cost you. If you slap the pile and there isn’t a valid combination, you then have to burn a card to the bottom of the played pile. This gets really entertaining as everyone is twitching and trying to get a jump on the next card played in hopes that it is a slappable combination. People even start to flinch in hopes of coaxing someone else into slapping the pile. It’s also funny to watch people start to slap, pull back, and then realize that they should have slapped.
It didn’t take long for us get hooked! I was laughing so hard at one point I had tears in my eyes. The pace of the game can be very fast and that makes it difficult when you are laughing. You do have to watch out though as the competition can get very heated. Sometimes the slaps start getting harder and harder. It was a good thing we were playing on a very soft surface. You might also find yourself being lunged at because you won’t let go of the pile when someone else feels they slapped first. Or you could just find that you get hit because the person can’t reach the true target of their frustrations. So it’s good to keep an eye on the pile as well as your opponents!
We played the game each night we were there and we returned home we still would play it any chance we got. We have even played at a restaurant after we finished eating and while we were just hanging out. I also used family gatherings as a time to teach new people the game!
So if you find yourself tired of dealing with technology for entertainment or just want something different I would say give Egyptian Ratscrew a try. All you need is a deck of cards! If you don’t have a deck of cards you can also play Egyptian Ratscrew on your iPhone or iPad. Check out the iOS game RatScrew.