by Amanda Nettgen
Number of players:
Rummikub (say “Rummy-Cube”) is a symboled tile strategy game that will keep you and your fellow players engaged many times over. It lives up to its name literally in that the object is to make runs and groups using cubes.
The game and gameplay
You start playing Rummikub by coming to a consensus of what final point value a player needs to be deemed the champion. Then spread out the 106 tiles on your table Go Fish style, with all pieces face down.
Have each player pick up 14 tiles to place in his game rack, without showing his competitors. Once everyone’s set with their pieces, it’s best to arrange them by color and number.
Whoever is able to lay down a numeric total of thirty via a collection of runs and/or groups goes first. Players take turns drawing a tile from the table pool until this can be accomplished.
With each proceeding turn you’ll want to lay down as many valid combinations as possible, or draw an additional cube if you can’t go anywhere.
A run in the game of Rummikub is putting down at least three consecutive digits of the same color (black, red, blue, or orange). Adding additional tiles to a previous run is an acceptable turn also.
The only other move in Rummikub is to form a group of numbered tiles – three or more uniquely-hued cubes, all of the same number value. If you possess the fourth color to complete an existing group, again, this is an acceptable turn to take in the game.
Where the real strategy in Rummikub comes in has to do with a player’s ability to successfully manipulate the tiles. Because there are 106 tiles, it’s possible to “break off” or re-arrange certain existing sections on the table and add in tiles from your rack.
When doing this, though, you need to be careful not to forget what you altered in case it doesn’t work. Also, any run or group you modify needs to accurately maintain a set of at least three cubes. The thrill in Rummikub comes from seeing something crazy you can do with the existing tiles to eliminate several from your own rack.
You win at Rummikub the second you get rid of all of the tiles from your rack, without hiding any of them in your couch cushions. The losing players tally up the tile worth of their remaining cubes (a Joker in their hand being a detrimental -30 points), subtracting what they got on the score pad.
The person who went Rummikub, however, gets the opposite: positive points for each player’s negative score. The ultimate victor is the cube king or queen with the highest score after a predetermined number of rounds or points (you might want to just play one game, as they can run long).
Pros and cons
Rummikub is a really good strategy game that’s fun to kick butt in. The game even supplies strategy tips in the rules, of which you might want to hide from your fellow opponents. I’d advise caution when it comes to retaining all of the cubes, though, and say that it won’t be interesting for everyone.
The game suggests a time limit of two minutes per turn, but really, that creates too much pressure to scope out a good move in time. Running complicated maneuvers in your head usually takes more than two minutes, so scrap the timer, but agree not to take forever when analyzing things.
Rummikub will provide you with a healthy dose of competition each time you play. It think it appeals more to adults than to kids.