Skip Bo Card Game
Product: Skip Bo Card Game
Available at: Amazon.com
No. of players: 2 – 6
When the rainy weather keeps me inside the cottage this summer, my first thoughts turn to which game to unearth from the pile in the corner that will keep my family occupied for and entertained for the duration. Time passes and no one notices when you choose the right game to bring during down times. Recently we tried Skip Bo to fill that void and it did not disappoint.
The History of Skip Bo
According to Wikipedia, Skip Bo was inspired by a game called Spite and Malice, a card game that was created using several decks of regular playing cards. A woman by the name of Minnie Hazel ‘Skip’ Bowman recreated the game using its own specialized deck and called it Skip Bo after her own name. I always wondered what the Skip Bo name had to do with the actual game playing and now I know. It turns out that other than a rather snappy sounding name, the moniker doesn’t have much to do with the actual game.
Skip Bo comes with 162 game cards and the instructions. It will accommodate 2 or more players, ages 7 and up. I’ve played this game with just one other player and while it was fun, I think it’s a bit more challenging and interesting to have more, though that I suppose, could be said of most games. The game will go more quickly with more players, not just because someone will play faster, but also because more interaction between players during game play will pass the time more quickly. An hour passes quickly when a lot of players are engaged and having fun.
The deck of 162 contains 18 Skip Bo cards which count as any number a player who holds that card decides it will be. Of course the player should choose a number that will be to her advantage during game play. The remaining cards consist of 12 cards numbered 1 through 12. There are no aces, jacks, queens or kings.
The first thing you need to do is shuffle the cards really well. I’d recommend each playing taking a bunch and shuffling, and then once sufficiently mixed, join all cards together for dealing. At 162 cards in the deck, it’s a bit awkward for one person to handle. The Skip Bo game rules dictate that two to 4 players should be dealt 30 cards each and for 5 or more players, 20 cards are dealt to each. The remaining cards are left in the center of the playing table and used as the draw pile.
Each player puts their stock pile face down in front of them with the top card facing up. The youngest player (according to the Skip Bo game rules) goes first by taking the top 5 cards from the draw pile. I think it’s pretty safe to come up with your own rule about who can play first, but in any case, that player will play a ‘one’ or a Skip Bo card first from either the cards just chosen from the draw pile or, preferably, they would play the top card from their stock pile if that card is a one or a Skip Bo card. It is laid down next to the draw pile in the center of the table. The player can then choose another card from the draw pile to bring the cards they’re holding back up to 5 and if they again draw a one or Skip Bo card they can play that by laying the one down next to the one or Skip Bo (playing that card as a one) in the center table or by playing the Skip Bo card as a two and laying it atop the one already played.
There are 4 open spots available at table center and all 4 spots must be played in sequential order, 1 through to 12. Once a pile at table center has 12 cards, If a player doesn’t have a one to start off a pile, that spot remains empty until a one (or Skip Bo representing a one) becomes available to play.
The first player continues until he has no cards left to lay down in numerical order (for example, he has no 3 to lay atop the 2). Then he can choose a card to discard. Each player has 4 discard spots to use. If a card is discarded he can play that card if there is room on a center pile to play it, i.e., if an eight is needed for a center pile when his turn comes, and he has an eight in his discard pile, he can choose to play it. When all 4 spots pile spots are taken, players must discard on top of other discarded cards. They can then only play the top discarded cards from the 4 piles in front of them.
Wining at Skip Bo
The goal is to eliminate your stock pile of 30 cards regardless of whether you still have any cards in your hand. The stock pile can sit for a while with no movement depending on what card you have showing…if you have a 12 and there are 4 cards at center table with ones and twos then you may have awhile to wait before you can use that 12. On the other hand, play can move quickly and you may find yourself unexpectedly playing cards from your stock pile one after the other causing some concern in the other players. You have to watch carefully too so as not to miss any opportunities to play from your stock pile.
As the title suggests, this is a great game to take on vacation. It does not make a good game for playing in a moving vehicle, since, with so many cards in the deck, they have a tendency to get a bit messy on the table. Bumps and sudden stops and starts in a camper would certainly make game play more interesting with this one!
Things to watch Out For
I can’t say enough how important shuffling the cards are in this game. I thought I had shuffled sufficiently until I drew 5 Skip Bo cards in a row for the cards in my hand. Had I been playing with anyone aside from my daughter I might not have said anything, hah! But I couldn’t in all conscience keep them so returned 4 to the deck and reshuffled and then chose 4 more cards.