Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Spider Mouse"

Remember when I mentioned in Brittany's birthday post that a post about playing cards would be coming?  Well, here it is.  I know that you had no idea what the topic would be, based on the title!

The name of the card game is Spite and Malice, but when you run that through a five year old's translator, it becomes Spider Mouse, and so that is what we have started calling this game.

Spite and Malice is a two player game, involving 2 complete decks of cards, including jokers.  My mom says that she played this game all through college.  For me, it is the kind game that I forget about if I don't play it regularly, but it all comes back pretty quickly.

 On Easter Sunday, we resurrected this game, and Brittany would occasionally challenge me to a game.  The girls, particularly Abby and Emma, were always asking someone to play "Spider Mouse" with them.  We originally created a 5 year old friendly game, and they always chose someone to be the spider and someone to be the mouse.  They played pretty regularly, until the unfortunate milk incident that caused two decks to be thrown away.  But, they gave Brittany two brand new decks for her birthday, and their grandmother gave them two decks of their own.  Thus, new life was breathed into the game again.
In this picture, Aunt Becky and Emma (you can just see her elbow), are on one team, Gam and Abby on another.  Katie and Poppa are watching. 

The day of Brittany's party, Mom and Becky started playing Spite and Malice, and they teamed up with the twins.  Just through doing that, the kids caught on quick!  This is not an easy game for kids, as their is a lot of strategy involved.  As the name suggests, the game (and players!) can get pretty nasty!

Another view of the same game.

Game play continued all day, squeezing in between breaks for dinner, presents, and cake.  The following day, play picked up again, between Brittany and Emma.  Abby and I played a game, and while I didn't try to crush her, I wasn't handing her a victory either.  The girl beat me by 11 cards!!!  After a while, Brittany challenged me, and she and I played several rounds.  Eventually, Don decided that he wanted to learn too.

This past weekend, Emma had Brianna sit down, and worked on teaching her the game!  Last night, I had Don sit down with me and we played.  While we played, I took pictures, so I could teach the game to you.

  • To start off, each player takes a well shuffled deck, making sure that the jokers are included.  Each counts off a pile of 25 face down cards and 1 face up card, for a stack of 26.

  • All of the remaining cards are shuffled together to make a draw pile.

  • The person with the highest card up goes first.  They draw five cards from the draw pile.

  • The object of the game is to play the cards out of your stack, while blocking your opponent from playing any of his cards.  In this game, suit doesn't matter, only numbers.  Play begins when an ace is played.  Each player can play off any piles in the middle, and piles are built sequentially, in ascending order.

  • You always start your turn with 5 cards in your hand.  At the end of your turn, playing any cards you can play, you have the option of discarding a card.  Each player can have up to four discard piles, and discard piles are in descending order.  However, unlike Solitaire, you are not limited to one card per number.  For instance, you do not have to have "K-Q-J-10..."  A discard pile could be "K-K-K-K-Q-Q-J-10-10..."
After a few hands.  You can see that neither of us has played any cards out of our stack, each has 2 discard piles, and we have two playable piles in the middle.

  • You can play with cards in your hand or cards in your discard piles.  You want to be careful not to bury cards too far, or you won't be able to play them when you need them!

  • Discard piles play an important role in the strategy.  You want to keep track of any cards your opponent has at his disposal, that will allow him to play a card from his stack.  You do not want to play any cards that will allow him to play his card.  In the above picture, Don has in his discard piles a 7, 8, and 9.  He has a Jack up to play.  I cannot see if he may have a 10 in his hand, so I am not going to play my 6.

  • Jokers are wild cards, and can be used for any cards EXCEPT aces or twos.  If you get a joker on your stack, you can look at as many cards beneath it as you think you can remember, in order to plan future turns.

  • You want to not let your opponent know that you have key cards in your hand.  As an example:
In this hand, I have an 8 up for play.  I have a 6 in my discard pile, but my 7's are seemingly buried.  I want Don to play his 5 (in his discard pile), so I do not let him know that I have another 7 in my hand.

This is an example of discard piles.  Be careful, if you have 4 piles, and can't discard any cards, play stops!

As the center piles are completed by the placement of a King, they are reshuffled and added to the bottom of the draw pile.  Play ends when a player plays all 26 cards in his stack.  Games have been known to seem endless!

This game is much easier to learn when you watch someone else play first, then play with someone willing to show you things and teach you tricks.  This tutorial is possible not sufficient to teach you how to play, but it does introduce you to Spider Mouse, and hopefully, if it gets mentioned in the future, you will know what I'm talking about.

One last picture:
This is Don, after the game, cleaning up the cards.  Oh yeah, by the way, he beat me....but not by much!

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