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How to Play Racing Demon

The aim of the game

To be the first to get rid of your pile of 13 cards (your Demon) while scoring as many points as you can along the way.

What you need

Three or more players (for two players, see Flying Demon below), a pack of cards per person, a scoring pad and a pencil.

Before you begin

Arrange yourselves around a playing area – ideally, the floor or a large sturdy table. Move all glasses, ornaments and small children to a safe distance – things can get pretty heated…

Each player starts with a full pack of shuffled cards and deals the first 13 cards into a pile, 12 face down and the 13th face up on top; this is the Demon.

Next to the Demon, each player deals the next four cards in a line, all face up; this is the Line of 4.

Playing the game

The game starts at the word “GO”.

If you have an Ace in your Line of 4 or at the top of your Demon, you must put it in the middle of the playing area. You then fill any spaces in the Line of 4 with the card from the top of the Demon, and turn the next card in your Demon face up.

The Aces in the middle of the playing area become the basis of a Stack. Once an Ace is in the middle, any player can then place the next card in the suit: Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and so on up to Jack, Queen and King, always following the suit of the Ace. If two or more players try to play the same card onto a Stack, only the first stays and the other cards must be taken back to their previous position. Putting the final King onto a Stack carries bonus points (see Scoring). The player who does this must take the stack away.

As well as playing the cards from your Demon and Line of 4, you deal out the cards in the rest of your pack in threes in front of you. You can add to the Stacks with these (or start new Stacks with Aces) – but only with the third card. Once you’ve gone through the whole of your pack, pick up the dealt cards in front of you, turn them over and start again.

Two more things:

You can only use one hand at a time to move cards (though you can hold your pack in the other hand) and You don’t have to play a card if it’s not in your interest to do so.

Winning the game

The winner is the first to get rid of all the cards from their Demon (not their Line of 4, which can be full). This player calls “OUT” and play must stop immediately (that includes moving cards out of your Demon or any other movement…).

However, the “winner” may not be the one to score the most points…

Scoring

Once a player has called “OUT”, you collect all the cards in the middle, sort them into each player’s colour and count them. Take this total and subtract the number of cards left in your Demon to find your score – so, if you played 17 cards into Stacks and had four cards left in your Demon, your score would be 13 (note that it’s possible to get a minus score). In addition, the player who calls “OUT” gets an extra 10 points, and anyone who finished a Stack with a King gets an extra 5 points

Write down each player’s score, shuffle your pack and pass it to the player on your left for the next round.

Variations

Building Ladders on your Line of 4 makes the game much faster, helping to get rid of your Demon. Build onto the Line of 4, using alternate coloured cards going down, Solitaire-style (eg 9 of Hearts followed by 8 of Spades followed by 7 of Diamonds). Cards on your Ladders can be taken from the Line of 4, from the top of your Demon or from the groups of three you deal from the pack, but gaps in the Line of 4 can only be filled with cards from your Demon. And be warned: you can only take a card from the bottom of a Ladder to place on a Stack in the middle!

Handicapping is a good way to level the playing field when you have players of different ages or experience. For this, after each round, the player with the highest score increases the number of cards in his or her Demon by one, and the player with the lowest score reduces the number of cards in his or her Demon by one.

Flying Demon

This variation is for 2 players, and is even faster and more frenetic than Racing Demon. Instead of 13, each player start with 21 cards in their Demon. After this, you play and score in exactly the same way but rather than following suit on the Stacks, you can play any suit up to the Jack, after which the suit must be followed to the King.

House Rules are, of course, played at your discretion.

Cheating is frowned upon, competitiveness is encouraged, speed is of the essence!

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