Woah! Why did no one warn me about Rummikub?
Ages ago I was chatting away to my friend K about games that were suitable for playing with nine year old kids. We both have one, so we often compare notes on what they like playing with the rest of the family. She mentioned Rummikub and told me that they all loved playing it together. I made a mental note to look out for a set on our chair shop trawls and didn’t think much more about it.
A few months later I was back at her house and mentioned that I’d found a copy, but not yet had chance to play it. At that point she denied all knowledge of having ever played it herself. She certainly had no recollection of ever suggesting I should play it. The alarm bells should have started ringing at this point.
It’s taken us a while, but over Christmas we finally took Rummikub off the shelf and worked out how to play. And then we quickly realised just how addictive a game it is!
What is Rummikub?
In short, Rummikub is a mixture between a tile based game like Mahjong and the card game Rummy (or threes and fours as my Nan and I used to call it). A set contains a total of 106 tiles. There are two sets of all the numbers 1 to 13 in four different colours (black, blue, red and orange. There are also two joker tiles.
How to play
The overall aim of the game is to score the most points. To do this players try to get rid of all their tiles as fast as they can by laying down sets or runs or three or more tiles. The twist is that once you are in the game (by laying down runs or sets with a total value of 30 or more) you can then manipulate runs and sets that are already in play. This may mean adding a tile to an existing run or set, or splitting a run up to make a new one, or taking a tile from one end of a run to use in a new set along with some tiles from your rack. There are numerous ways to manipulate tiles and it does take a bit of practice to see all the possible ways of doing so.
Each player takes a turn to lay down and manipulate and if they can’t do so then they have to take another tile from the pool. When a player has managed to lay down all their tiles then the game is over and the scores are worked out.
The players who still have tiles left on their racks score a negative score equals to the sum of all the tiles they have (with jokers counting for 30 points). The winner then gets a positive score which is the sum of all the other players’ negative scores.
You keep playing for as many games as you agree and then add everyone’s scores up to work out the overall winner. Because of the way scores are worked out it’s not always obvious how people have done overall until you actually tally things up.
It’s hard to explain why Rummikub is so addictive to play. Both Bonn and I loved the physical game and then managed to find a phone app version which was a very close version of the real game, but somehow even more addictive. It’s hard to drag yourself away from it. I’m sending a set up to my Mum so she can get herself up to speed with it before our next visit!
What to play next
Playing has also made me wonder more about Mahjong and exactly what the game involves. When I travelled in Hong Kong I saw it being played lots and I’m intrigued to find out how easy it is to play if you have no knowledge of Chinese characters. I guess I’ll be keeping a look out for a Mahjong set in the charity shop next!
Until then though I also have a copy of game called Uno Rummy which seems to be a mash-up of Uno and Rummy (and hence I guess Rummikub). With kid who love Uno, and me officially addicted to Rummikub I’ve got high hopes!
How to buy Rummikub and the other games mentioned here
Disclaimer: All links in this section marked * are affiliate links. It will cost you no more to buy through them, but I receive a small amount of commission. Normally not even enough to buy a cup of tea with. Thank you if you do click through and purchase something.
If you’re interested in playing Rummikub then sets are easily available *to buy online. Uno Rummy appears to have at some point also been called Uno Rummy Up and copies *sometimes come available online. If you’re after a Mahjong set and don’t want to wait to find one in a charity shop, then there are a *variety available online to suit all budgets!