Race Games with Cards

These are games in which cards are used to control movement.

One group of race games, in which pegs, marbles or other pieces are moved around a race track board, are ultimately derived from the Indian board game Pachisi. In Pachisi and its Western derivatives such as Parcheesi, Ludo and Mensch, Ärgere Dich Nicht, movement is determined by throwing dice. The idea of using cards instead of dice to control movement in this type of game originated in the 1930's game Sorry!, published by Waddingtons in the UK and Parker Brothers in North America. Sorry! featured a special pack of cards with numbers 1 to 12 (but no sixes or nines) and some special Sorry! cards that enabled pieces to swap places. It is of course possible to play a similar game using standard playing-cards. Substituting cards for dice opens up the possibility of giving each player a hand of cards and thus a choice of moves. One of the first games to exploit this idea was the Canadian game Tock, which is also now played in France. Games of this family are also popular on cetain Pacific islands, especially Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu. North American card race games include:

  • Pegs and Jokers - which develops the possibilities of split moves and cooperation between partners.
  • Fast Track - in which pieces can take short cuts around the centre of the board.

There is another type of card race game in which the cards themselves move. For example, Horse Race (sometimes known as Racing) is a race between the four aces of a 52-card pack in which each ace moves a space forward when a card of its suit is drawn. Players may place bets on the outcome.

This page is maintained by John McLeod, john@pagat.com   © John McLeod, 2011. Last updated: 10th October 2016