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Flinch Card Game: Rules & How to Play?

Flinch is a very old game believed to have been created in the late 1890s. It’s commonly thought that Flinch was one of the first stockpile card games. The aim of the game is simple, be the first player to play all your cards. 

But of course, you can’t just throw cards down; they need to be played in a specific order. You need to plan each move carefully and while it might be tempting to race ahead, sometimes slow and steady is the better approach. 

What is the Flinch Card Game?

Flinch Card Game
Image Credit: www.hoggbarnantiques.com

Flinch makes a great two-player card game but can be played with four people. To start the game, one player will become the dealer. Now the set-up for Flinch can seem a little confusing with lots of separate piles of cards. 

But once you’ve played a few rounds, you’ll get used to how everything works. The first thing the dealer does is deal ten cards to each player. These ten cards become the player’s stockpile and should be placed before each player. 

Each player can turn over the top card on their stockpile. Each player is then dealt five cards for their first hand. Cards should be dealt face down; each player can look at their hand when it’s dealt, though. 

All the remaining cards are used to create the stack. Next, the stack is separated into five cards each and laid out in a vertical criss-cross pattern. During the game, each player will also form reserved piles; we’ll explain how they work in the game guide below. 

If possible, each player will aim to play a number one card from their stockpile. If they have multiple single cards, they can place several down at once. Once a player has played a card from their stockpile, they can look at their hand and play a card from that. 

Players can only play cards in numerical order, so you can only play a two-card if you have already put a number one card down. If a player has no playable cards in their hand, they can discard it and collect a new one from the stack. Players should also always add one card to their reserve pile for later. 

A card from the reserve pile can only be played if it’s at the top. So, think ahead and ensure you have the right card at the top for later in the game. Each pile of cards goes from 1 to 15, and once complete, it is removed from the table. 

Each player will have their own piles and can’t play on each other. The aim is to be the first to play all ten cards in your stockpile. But when you’re not playing, you still need to pay attention to what each player is doing because of the Flinch rule! So let’s take a look at what you need to play Flinch. 

What You’ll Need To Play? 

Flinch is similar to games like Skip-Bo, Spite and Malice, and Stacks, and it requires a special card set to play. Unfortunately, flinch is a vintage game, so finding a card set in shops might be difficult. But they’re easy enough to find online, like this classic Flinch card set, for example. 

Flinch Card Set

You should get 150 cards in your set, and they have a rather unusual design to them. The number is laid out twice to be seen from all angles by every player. Once you’ve got your cards, you are ready to play! 

Rules and Gameplay 

Flinch Card Game Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game 

In Flinch, you need to be the first player to play all ten cards from your stockpile! This might sound simple, but cards can only be played in a specific order, making this game much more challenging. 

The Set-Up 

Once everyone is seated, choose a player to be the dealer. The dealer should shuffle the deck and give out ten cards to each player. These become each player’s stockpile. Then the dealer should deal out five cards for their initial hand. 

The dealer should then take the remaining cards and separate them into piles of five cards for the stack. These piles should be laid out in a vertical criss-cross pattern on one side of the table. Once done, you’re ready to start the game! 

The Play 

The player to the dealer’s left will go first before moving; every player should turn over the top card on their stockpile. You can put it down right away to form your play pile if you have a number one card. 

A play pile goes from one to fifteen and, once complete, is removed from the game. Each player should aim to find a number one card to start their pile. If you can’t play the top card from your stockpile, you can look in your hand instead. 

If you can’t play a card from there, you can discard the hand and choose another pile from the stack. If you cannot play a card then, you should instead play a card in your reserve pile for later and then end your turn. 

If you can play a card, you can play other number one cards on top of it. You can also play number two cards as long as they are in numerical order. It might be tempting to race ahead and play as many cards as possible, but taking a slower approach can help you avoid making mistakes. 

To win Flinch, you need to play all your stockpile cards first. These cards can only be played in order, so if you are unlucky, it could take you quite a while to start playing cards from it. When you’re not taking your turn, you also need to watch your opponents carefully and look out for the Flinch rule! 

The Flinch Rule

Player’s should always play a card from their stockpile first if they can. If you spot a player not doing this, you can shout out “Flinch.” The player who then broke the rule must take the top stockpile card from the player who shouted. 

They then add this card to the bottom of their stockpile, which gives them an extra card they need to play to finish the game. Be careful, though, because if you call Flinch and are wrong, you will take an additional card from the challenged player. 

Flinch – A Classic Strategic Card Game! 

Flinch is a bit of a “hidden gem” these days. It can also seem a little intimidating to newbies. But once you’ve played a few rounds, you’ll see how fun and strategic this card game can be! So, if you’re looking for a new game to try, give Flinch ago! 

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