Spy vs Spy

Contributed by Jeff , who writes:

"I invented a simple and fun single / multiplayer / tournament card game called spy using a normal deck of cards with unlimited amount of players. The game is fast paced, quick thinking and smart planning. Game usually can last from up to 15 minutes to 90 minutes. My goal in this creation is to get this game known to everyone everywhere. The reason I chose the name "SPY" is because its game play is like war and you are in a race using mind and speed to outdo the other spy which gives it the name "SPY vs. SPY". (SPY is short for SPY vs. SPY)"

Basic Multiplayer: Its pretty simple the object of the game is to get 0 points or get negative points. You can begin by either dealing out the deck in half (half the deck for you half the deck for another player only for a 2 player game) or all players use their own full deck of cards. (If you want a really short game use half a deck, but it's more fun with a full deck.) Depending on what you choose depends on the amount of bonus points you win and lose as well as the strategy.

Goal: You goal is to lose points. The maximum winning points (cards) you can get with a full deck of cards are -20 points. If you're playing with 2 players both using half a deck then its -10 points.

Start: The game begins when all players shuffle and deal out 5 cards from their deck and set it aside to begin their points pile: these are your beginning 5 points (cards). Remember that you are not supposed to look at these cards at any time but you can count how many cards you have there.
Remember reaching 0 or a negative number means you win the game.

How to Race: After dealing out 5 cards face down pick the remaining deck up: this is your racing hand (you cannot look at your racing hand). Now deal out 4 cards face up from the racing hand (I call it 4 piles). Spread them out in a square. From there you and the other players must start together like a race. When you start you immediately flip the top card in your racing hand and place it on a card [one of the four face up cards of your square]. You must either match the rank of the card you place it on, or place it on top of a card whose rank is one above or below it - e.g. 6 goes on 5, 5 goes on 5, 5 goes on 6, a 7 will not go on 5, a queen goes on king, a king goes on a queen, an ace goes on a king, a king goes on an ace, and a 2 on an ace, etc. The ranking order is -ace-2-3-4- to -10-jack-queen-king-ace-2- etc (there are no jokers). Just keep flipping cards from the racing hand adding the card to the 4 piles. Very straightforward.

The Obstacles: Now you know the basics. Now in the case that you come across a card you cannot put down you have to start a new pile, meaning that you can now play on 5 piles of cards. If it happens again you have to make a 6th pile of cards (6 is the maximum number of piles). The race is won when you have no cards in your racing hand to put in the 4, 5, 6 piles or you are stuck and can't put any more cards down. I will explain how you get stuck and what happens later. Now if you have 6 piles of cards and you get to 1 card you can't put down you must tell everyone what that card is (yell out to everyone) and remember that card's number (rank) and suit and place that card on the bottom of your racing hand while racing. Then continue flipping cards up and putting them in the piles, but this time for every card you can't put down just put it on the bottom without remembering it or calling it.

Finishing the Race: Once you reach the card that you called out, then if at any point after that card you cannot put the next card down you are stuck (so stop and say finished). What this means is even though you're stuck you still finished the race. The left over cards in your hand gets put into the points pile. When everyone has finished racing, everyone must pick one of the six piles created through the race and add that to their own points pile too. Now the person that finished the race first (#1) gets to remove 5 points (cards) from the points pile, (hurray - remember those 5 cards sitting aside that's your points). The cards you remove go back into the pile of 5 faced up piles of cards. To be used in the race again.

Repeat race: Now if no one wins the game you race again so collect the remaining 4, 5, or 6 piles that are faced up, shuffle well and deal out 4 piles and commence the race again (3,2,1 go).

Scoring: If during the race you finish at any rank (first, second, third) and you have say 4 or 5 piles of cards down and one or two empty spaces then that's an automatic bonus -20 points (cards) and you're the only person that does not have to pick from 6 piles to add to the points unless someone else won the -20 bonus then they don't have to add a pile either to their racing hand. (Full deck = -20; Half deck = -10) (WOW cool that's 20 cards out from the deck usually people win the game right here unless you just happen to have a over 20 points in your points pile, that's got to suck). Remember you can't add the winning -5 points to the -20 bonus points to make -25 that would make the game too easy to win for many people.

Important Ending Info: You can play with as many people as you want. If it's more than 2 it's recommended that everyone uses there own normal full deck of cards. (No jokers.) Remember there's no trading points; you can talk during the race; you can play the race as fast as you want but you have to put the cards in the right spots; if you have the option to chose which pile to put a card you may put it anywhere. You cannot skip a card on purpose - if it is capable of putting down or making a new pile you must do so. Do not add up the points till everyone finishes the race.

Tie Breakers To break a tie you can consider who has the better negative score so if you reach 0 and the person beside you reaches -1 the same time you did then the person with -1 wins. If you both have the same -1 or 0 etc. then you both have to have a new race where there's a good chance you could both gain enough points to start the game up again and race to get negative first again.

Strategy: You could win in any number of ways: keep winning the races and ending with few enough points (cards) to keep getting rid of a few cards, most likely reaching zero; or have exactly 20 points and try and go for the -20 points. The more points you have the better chances you have of finishing the race first. With a huge pile of points you a greater chance of getting bonus points. Remember when you have the option to choose which pile to put a card on, you may put it anywhere. Try to keep all the numbers together - it's a good strategy for winning - e.g. keep all the 5's in one pile and all the kings in another, etc.

Cheating: Cheating is not allowed, but it seems very simple to cheat, so when the race is over you are allowed to check the other players piles. If anything does not match up then they automatically lose or you can choose a pile from the six for the cheater to add to their points.

Single Player: All the same rules. Your goal is to reach 0 or negative. Only difference is you don't have go fast and you always get -5 at the end of every round. Just you must deal yourself 10 cards for the start (bonus is the same -20 (full deck)). Cheat if you want because it is single player.

Fun Level: 1-10, 9.8
Downside - racing makes you think and moves your hands fast so it can get tiring.

Thank you for taking the time to learn and play the game spy.

e-mail me comments please to and thank you.

Last updated: 5th November 2003