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How Do You Play Rummikub? Step-by-Step Guide

Board games are certainly plentiful these days, but many popular games have stood the test of time despite the competition. Rummikub is a board game that is a bit of a “hidden gem” these days.

It’s well worth playing and a great choice for families or friend groups who are getting bored of Monopoly or Clue. So, let’s look at the game in more detail. 

What is Rummikub?

What is Rummikub

Rummikub was made in the 1940s by Ephraim Hertzano. Hertzano was a board game designer, and the first sets he made were completely handmade! Rummikub uses tiles and might seem similar to Scrabble at first glance.

But the tiles are slightly larger and have numbers, not letters. While the game might be a “hidden gem” these days, it was the best-selling US board game in 1977. How you play Rummikub is quite simple, you need to be the first player to get rid of all your tiles.

You play tiles by putting them into runs and groups; we’ll explain how these work in the rules section below. While it might seem like an odd comparison, the gameplay of Rummikub is quite similar to Rummy card games.

So, if you enjoy Rummy or any of the other Rumm spinoff games, then there is a good chance you’ll enjoy playing Rummikub. Rummikub can be played between 2 – 4 people and makes a good family game too.

However, due to the number-based gameplay, it’s best for children aged eight and above. And if you are looking for a fun, educational game, you shouldn’t overlook this board game. It can help improve STEM skills in children and has some good strategic gameplay.

What You’ll Need to Play?

All you need to play Rummikub is at least one good friend and a game set. Rummikub isn’t as popular as games like Uno, so finding a game set might be a little tricky in shops. However, you can easily find a set online.

This classic Rummikub board game set would make a great choice. You’ll need space to set it up too, and it’s best played on the large table. But before you start playing, check out our rules guide below.

Rummikub Board Game

Rules and Gameplay

Rules and Gameplay Chutes Rummikub

The Aim of The Game

To win Rummikub, you need to be the first player to use all your tiles. Tiles can be played in a few different ways, but you still need to think carefully and plan ahead. Rummikub is a very strategic game at heart, so don’t be rash and think carefully.

The Set-Up

First, make sure all the tiles are in the pouch. You should have 106 tiles in total; once they’re in the pouch, gently shake them a few times to shuffle them up. It’s a little like shuffling a deck of cards.

Each player should take a tile from the pouch. The player with the highest number will go first. If two players get the same number, they should return the tiles and go again. Once the lead player has been decided, ensure all tiles are returned to the pouch.

Players should then take 14 tiles from the pouch and place them in their tile rack. And if you have played Scrabble before, this process will probably feel very similar. Once everyone’s rack is complete, you can start playing for real!

The Gameplay

It would be best if you aimed to make a run or group with your tiles on your turn. A run is three in a row and of the same color. This should be a sequence of numbers, so 1-2-3, for example.

A group is three of the same number but in different colors. You should place them face-up on the table if you can play tiles. You can add tiles to any runs or groups currently on the table during your turn.

Ideally, it would be best if you always tried to make a move on your turn. This is easy during the early stages but will get more challenging as the game progresses. If you cannot make a move, you must take a new tile from the pouch and pass on your turn.

When making your first move, you must place down tiles that equal at least 30 points. If you can’t do this, you’ll need to take a new tile and pass on your turn till you can. Tiles points are equal to the number they show.

Once the first player has taken their turn, gameplay continues clockwise. The aim of the game is to empty your tray first. This usually means you will win the round, although this may not be the case in rare circumstances.

If you are the first to empty your tray, your score is tallied up using your opponent’s trays. Then, any tiles your opponents have left are tallied up, and that’s your total score for the round! Rummikub is usually played over several rounds, and the player with the highest score at the end will win!

We recommend playing between three-five rounds for beginner games at first. Then, if you want something a little longer, you can play ten or more rounds. If you are looking for something faster, single-round Rummikub games can be fun.

Special Rules

You can use a few special rules in Rummikub involving Joker tiles and time limits. You don’t have to use either of these, but they add new elements to the game and can be fun. We’ll explain how each rule works below.

Joker Tiles

Joker tiles are marked with a smiley face, and they act just like wild cards in Spicy Uno. If you get one of these tiles, you can use it to represent any other tile you may need. There are two Joker tiles in the game; if you don’t want to use them, make sure they are removed from the pouch.

Time Limit Rules

If you want to add extra pressure to every player, you can impose a two-minute time limit on each player’s turn. Then, simply use a stopwatch or smartphone app to ensure each player only takes two minutes.

Rummikub – A Rummy-Style Board Game

Rummikub is a mix of Scrabble and Rummy, and that is a winning combination, in our opinion! So, if you’re looking for a fun new board game to play at your next game night, why not give Rummikub a try?

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