How to Make and Play the Sticks Card Game
Need a fun and easy-to-learn party game? How about relaxing around the gaming table after a day on the slopes or a long day at work? Learn the challenging card game of Sticks. The game has no scoring and no complicated counting tricks or face values. Complete the requirements on the stick six times, and you're a winner! This competitive game changes so often that no one can predict who will win until the last stick is turned face up.
What Kind of Sticks Should I Use?
The sticks you will be using are wooden craft sticks with labels on them telling the player what cards to collect to lay down for the meld, e.g. "set of 3 kings," "run of 4 hearts," or "run of 13 mixed sets." The best part of this game is there is NO SCORING. Once a player completes the card sets and/or runs written on six sticks, the game is over. The game reminds me of Phase 10, except you have no idea what you need to lay down until you draw the next stick.
Yes, a player will go out before you get a chance to complete your stick (meld), so play the stick a total of three times. If you cannot complete the stick after that, simply leave it turned face down and choose another. Believe me, you won't be the only one who has to do this. This is what keeps the hands interesting. This said, it is a quick game so there can be many winners in an evening.
If your stick requires only six cards for the meld e.g. a set of kings and a set of queens, you will have seven cards remaining in your hand. The next turn after laying down the meld, you can lay down a set of three cards--a set always requires three cards such as three jacks.--or as many sets of threes as you have in your hand or you can play on the cards of the player to your right only...not your own in front of you or on any other players. If the player to the right has laid down a set of queens, add your queen to his set or if he has laid down a run hearts e.g. 5,6,7,8 then you can add the 4 or 9 of hearts to the run. You must have a discard to go out unless otherwise stated on the stick. (Yes, there is a stick that says 7 pairs and FREE sticks where you can make up any combinations you want to lay down).
What You Need to Make This Game
To make the labels simply print the list of labels. Cut out the printed labels and paste to craft sticks with glue. Some people also prefer to write the label directly on each stick.
You will also need three decks of cards and an opaque container to draw the sticks from.
Easy-to-Follow Rules for Sticks
Our neighbors Jim and Wanda taught us this game. Thanks, Neighbors!
Number of players: two to eight players - use three decks of cards
Note: Ace is always low.
Wild cards: Twos, threes, and Jacks
Object of the game: To get rid of all of your cards before everyone turns over their stick
- Deal 13 cards to everyone. Begin with the player to your left.
- Each player draws a stick. Don't show anyone. Put it face down.
- Each player takes a turn drawing a card and discarding and trying to complete what is written on their stick. When they have the cards they need, they turn their stick over and put the cards that match it on the table (aka a meld).
- After a player completes a stick, they continue to draw trying to get sets of (3) that can be laid in front of them. They also may play on the person's cards to their right. You may play as many sets of (3) in front of you that you can, but you cannot add to them and you must have a discard if going out. There is no counting of cards or keeping score. The number of sticks determines the winner.
- The hand is over when someone gets rid of all their cards. Players then throw their cards in, shuffle and re-deal the next hand. Everyone who completed their stick will draw a new stick to work on.
- Players that have not completed their stick when someone goes out still throw their cards in but cannot draw a new stick until they have attempted to complete the one they have three times.
- You must have at least one natural suit in your runs that are suit specific. Example: You draw a stick that reads RUN OF SIX DIAMONDS. You can have five wild cards in that run but must have a diamond that is not a wild. You cannot make a set from just wild cards.
- You must have a "discard" when going out unless the stick reads "NO DISCARD" or you draw a stick that requires you to use all of your cards.
- When you draw stick #6, it cannot be a "FREE" one. You must draw a different stick.
- The first person to complete six sticks wins the game.
Labels for Sticks
Print these labels or write them on your craft sticks. You can add a layer of clear nail polish over the top of the label to seal it if you wish.
- RUN of (4) SPADES
- SET of (4) - RUN of (4) Same Suit
- SET of (5) WILD CARDS
- RUN of (7) CLUBS
- RUN of (5) DIAMONDS
- RUN of (3) - "NO WILD CARDS"
- RUN of (6) CLUBS
- FREE - FREE - FREE - FREE
- (3) SETS of (4)
- SET of (8)
- (3) SETS of (3)
- SET of (7)
- (3) ACES - (3) KINGS - (3) QUEENS
- (4) ACES - (4) TENS
- (3) FIVES - (3) TENS
- (2) RUNS of (4)
- SET of (4) - RUN of (6) Same Suit
- (2) SETS of (4)
- RUN of (4) DIAMONDS
- RUN of (6) DIAMONDS
- (3) SIXES - (3) NINES
- SET of (4) - RUN of (5) Same Suit
- RUN of (6) SPADES
- RUN of (6) HEARTS
- SET of (5) - RUN of (5) Same Suit
- SET of (5)
- (3) SEVENS - (3) QUEENS
- RUN of (11) - MIXED SUITS
- SET of (3) - RUN of (4) Same Suit
- (5) KINGS - (5) QUEENS
- (2) RUNS of (3)
- RUN of (5) CLUBS
- SET of (6)
- (2) SETS of (3)
- RUN of (4) CLUBS
- RUN of (5) HEARTS
- RUN of (4) - "NO WILD CARDS"
- SET of (3) - SET of (5)
- (3) KINGS - SET of (3) - SET of (4)
- (2) SETS of (3) - (2) RUNS of (3)
- (7) PAIRS - "NO DISCARD"
- RUN of (7) HEARTS
- RUN of (7) DIAMONDS
- RUN of (13) MIXED SUITS
- (2) SETS of (5)
- RUN of (4) HEARTS
- SET of (3) - SET of (4)
- RUN of (5) SPADES
- SET of (4) - SET of (5)
- FREE - FREE - FREE - FREE
- RUN of (4) Same Suit
- SET of (3) - SET of (6)
- SET of (4) - RUN of (7) Same Suit
- RUN of (7) SPADES
- (2) SETS of (3) - RUN of (4) Same Suit
- RUN of (8) Same Suit
Will You Play Sticks?
You're going to have a great time! I wish I could be there to teach you the game and help you make the sticks. Try this fun game at home, school, at the campground, or on game nights.
Please ask if you have questions about the rules of the game and let me know if you liked it!