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Spite and Malice: Rules & Gameplay

Also known as Cat and Mouse, this fun card game stands out from the crowd. It’s not quite as popular these days, making it a good choice for anyone looking for something a little different. Before we look at the rules, let’s look at what the game is all about.

What is Spite and Malice?

Spite and Malice is a fine example of an excellent two-player card game! If you are looking for more competitive games to play, you’ll enjoy Spite and Malice. What makes this game stand out is that it’s much slower-paced.

Many other card games like Poker and Uno are usually relatively fast-paced. This card takes a deliberately slower pace where taking your time to weigh up your options can make a massive difference to the outcome.

The game is played with two decks of cards, and each player starts with a pile of 20 cards. Once the first player has been decided, the game begins with each player taking turns. The aim of the game is to play all 20 of your cards first.

But these cards can only be played in a specific order, which means you won’t always be able to simply put cards down. Cards need to be played in the center stack ideally, but side stacks can also be used to put cards down as well.

We’ll discuss how these stacks work in the rules section below. But before we discuss this, let’s look at what you’ll need to play the Spite and Malice card game, shall we?

What You’ll Need To Play?

To play Spite and Malice, you’ll need a deck of cards. However, any cards will do, and you can find some great deals online like this twin pack of Bicycle playing cards.

Double Pack Bicycle Cards

If you’re thinking of playing Spite and Malice at the pub with friends, then we recommend some waterproof playing cards for extra protection. Also, ensure you have enough space to play this game too. You’ll each have separate rows of cards, so it can take up a lot of room on a table.

Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game

Spite and Malice is a fun, competitive card game where patience counts. You can think of it as a slow-motion race to the end. Each player will need to play the cards in their play-off pile in the center stack/s.

These cards can only be played in a specific order, and there can be up to three center stacks during the game. The objective sounds simple, but cards can only be taken from your play-off pile one at a time and in the order they are put down.

So, playing certain cards will often require patience and a lot of planning. If you enjoy strategic card games, you’ll be sure to enjoy Spite and Malice. But before you play, check out the rules and game information you need to know below.

The Card Ranking

Before we talk about the rules for this game, let’s take a quick look at the ranking order. Players can only play the cards in their play-off pile in center stacks and ranking order. The order is as follows:

  • Ace
  • Two
  • Three
  • Four
  • Five
  • Six
  • Seven
  • Eight
  • Nine
  • Ten
  • Jack
  • Queen

King cards are used in Spite and Malice, but they act as wild cards. So, if you get a King in your play-off pile, then you’ll be pretty lucky. For the first few games, you’ll likely find it helpful to have the ranking order written down for you to refer to.

The Set-Up

Have one player shuffle both decks of cards together; you can use an automatic card shuffler for this if you prefer. Each player is dealt a hand of five cards. They will then be dealt their play-off piles of 20 cards each. These piles must be played in ranking order and can only be played in the center stack/s.

Before the game can begin properly, each player must flip the top card on their play-off pile. The player with the highest-ranking card will go first. If the two cards are equal, the piles should be reshuffled. The remaining cards are left to form the stock.

Playing Spite and Malice

Each player will take turns aiming to complete the center stacks by using all the cards in their play-off pile. You can only use the top card from your play-off pile and can’t shuffle through it. To start your center stack, you will need an ace card.

There can be no more than three center stacks during the game. However, you can play cards into side stacks. Each player can have up to four side stacks, and the cards can be put down in any order.

You can either play a card on one of your center stacks or play a card to a side stack on your turn. If you are playing a card to a center stack, it can come from your hand, the play-off pile, or you can move a play-off pile card from a side stack to a center one.

You can add multiple cards from your hand to the center stacks in a single turn. If you manage to play all five cards in one go, you can instantly draw five new ones and continue your turn. When one player plays all 20 of their play-off pile cards, the game is over.

The game can also end in a stalemate if the stockpile of cards is exhausted. The cards should all be returned and reshuffled for a new round if this happens.

Spite and Malice – A Slow Burn, Strategic Card Game

Spite and Malice is a unique card game ideal for enjoying a good slow burn. You’ll need to think through each move carefully if you want to win.

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