Home Page > Invented Games > Countdown


A card game inspired by the British TV game show of the same name, contributed by Mathew Arnold .

Cards: a standard 52 card pack (jokers removed)

Objective: to reach the target number by addition, multiplication, subtraction, division (written as / ), powers and power roots, and factorials with the given cards.

Card Values: 2=2, 3=3 etc. J=5, Q=8, K=10, A=1 or 11 at user's discretion.

Gameplay: You can play with any number or people, but 1-3 is best. The game is not turn-based. One person shuffles and deals 3 cards onto the table face-up to give a 3-digit number. Ks and 10s are counted as 0 in the second and third positions, and 1 if at the beginning of the number. For example K,5,9 represents 159, but 6,10,K is 600. Ace is always 1 in the 3-digit target number.

Next, 7 cards are dealt face-up for everyone to see on the table, away from the target number. Everyone uses these seven cards to try to reach the target number. If someone reaches it, then they call out and win the round. You can keep a score if you wish. If no-one reaches the target number after either 3 minutes, if you wish to time it, or when the person who dealt makes an executive desicion that no-one has got it and probably won't, then whoever is closest (above or below the target number) wins. On your own, you simply see if you can reach the target number or not. Obviously, you have no opponents.

Rules: You may only use each card once in your calculation to reach the target number, but you may use as many or few of the seven cards as you like. Obviously, adding, dividing two numbers uses them up, but the result can be reused. So, I can add 3 and 6 to get 9, and then multiply 9 by a 4 to get 36. All intermediate totals must be positive integers.

Squares and square roots do not require a 2-card, but higher powers and roots require a card to represent the power or root. For example you can take the square root of 64 to get 8 without using a card, but taking the cube root to get 4 would use up a 3. I have a 2 and a 6 - I can use 2^6 to get 64, but I can make 36 (6 squared) using the 6 alone.

Factorials (written as a number with ! after it) are a nifty way of reaching high numbers fast. To use a factorial, you multiply a number by every positive integer (whole number) before it. Taking the factorial of a number does not require a card. If I have the card 5 and want to use a factorial, I calculate 5! = 1x2x3x4x5 = 120. I do not need the cards 1,2,3 and 4, but only 5.

Example: Target numer is 9,6,7 = 967. My numbers are J,J,6,8,Q,10,10: in order = 5,5,6,8,8,10,10.
My calculation is 6! = 720   10xJxJ = 250   720+250 = 970   8/8 = 1   10-1=9    9 sq.root = 3    970-3 = 967.

Home Page > Invented Games > Countdown
Last updated: 19th August 2010