No matter where you are in the world, sitting down to play the most popular family card games is a universally great way to spend time together as a family. But did you know it’s also a way to learn about different world cultures and find similarities between them too? It’s true. When you sit down with your kids to try these new-to-you games, think about the games you love that they remind you of—Go Fish, Solitaire or Crazy Eights perhaps? Shuffle through these options to find a something to play today.
Standard Deck Games: Grab your everyday 52-card deck to play these international favorites.
Racing Demon – England
Say hello to your new favorite way to spend a rainy afternoon. This fast-paced family game is loads of fun; it’s no wonder it’s practically a national pastime in England. You’ll need at least two players to play and a deck of cards with different backs for each player. From there, play looks similar to Solitaire with players sifting through a working pile in groups of three looking for ways to stack alternating black and red cards on piles until their demon pile is finished. Here’s the full scoop on how to play this fabulous game.
Pişti – Turkey
This very popular Turkish game got its start in Greece, and people in Egypt, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries play a similar fishing game called Basra. Think of pişti like an advanced game of Go Fish, where players race to score 151 points to finish the game and win. Learn how to play it here.
Irish Snap – Ireland
If your kids are familiar with Snap—they probably know it as Slapjack—this is a fun variation that makes the play a bit more challenging. Players go around the circle playing cards as per usual, but in this game they also count in order (one through ace) as they go. If the upturned card matches either the card beneath or the number that was shouted, it’s time to slap the pile. Get all the details you need to play online.
Buta no shippo – Japan
Gather the kids around the “pig’s tail” (the English translation of buta no shippo) to play this Japanese party game. Then it’s as easy as janken-ing (rock, paper, scissor-ing) to decide who makes the first move. The goal is to have the fewest cards when the pig’s tail is finally depleted. It takes quick reflexes to be a master at this game. You’ll find all you need to play here.
Asigi – Samoa
If you’ve ever played Spoons (or Pig or Donkey—it goes by many names) with your little card sharks, this game should feel pretty familiar. Like Spoons, the object is to collect four of a kind, while not being the last to grab the spoon from the center of the table. The Samoan version involves fewer cards and a bit more chanting—players like to say “Asigi, A-si-gi” when they play. Get the full game play description here.
Special Deck Games: You’ll need specific decks to play these card games from other countries.
Mille Bourne – France
Families race to the finish line in this French card game of a thousand miles. Mille Bourne is a tabletop road race, complete with hazards, speed limits and flat tires. See which member of your family is ready to go the distance.
Taki – Israel
This popular card game, invented by Haim Shafir, was introduced to Israeli families in the 1980s. A cross between Crazy Eights and UNO, players try to get rid of all their cards and stop their opponents from doing the same by playing cards. That stop play, change colors and reverse direction. It’s a quick paced romp for everyone!
Ligtretto – Germany
It only takes two players to break out this German kids card game. That’s all about getting rid of your cards as fast as you can. You’ve got to be quick to win this simultaneously played game. Because while you’ve got your eyes on your own pile, another player can sneak in a win without anyone else noticing. Who’s got the skills for this one?
Map Out Your Adventure After you’ve made your way through a few rounds of these kids card games, take out your World Happy Map to see if you can find the countries where these popular games are played.
– Allison Sutcliffe