Our family goes through phases of loving games and then forgetting we have any at all, but this card game has been a favorite for years! It’s fast-paced, fairly simple to play and crazy addictive. It promises to have even the most reserved family member jumping around and having a great time!
Has your family ever played Nertz? I was convinced we were the only people in the world never to have heard of it until I talked about it on my Instagram stories a few months ago. So many of you wanted to know more!
The first time we played it was on vacation with Luke’s family and we were all immediately hooked. We even stayed up playing until past midnight several nights in a row. It is most definitely our family’s favorite card game to date!
Nertz is a fast-paced game played with sets of face cards. The only tricky thing about setting up a Nertz game is that you have to have a separate set of cards for each player, and every set has to have a unique pattern on the back so that you can recognize your cards when they’re all mixed up.
We’ve been collecting random sets for a while now but our friends found this amazing variety box on Amazon. The quality is a little on the cheaper side but totally appropriate for playing with a bunch of kids. I also love this set from Bicycle because it’s great quality and super colorful, although pricier.
Nertz is basically a fast-paced game of solitaire played with other people. Each player starts with 4 random cards laid out face up, side by side, on the table in front of them, plus a stack of 13 cards also face down. The rest of your cards go face down in your non-dominant hand.
When the game starts, any players with aces among their 4 face-up cards can put them in the center of the table and then anyone can add to those aces by adding a “2” of the same color and suit, then a “3”, “4”, etc. Once the stack fills up, the person with the King places it face down on the stack and that pile is now dead.
Once you move one of your face up cards to the center of the table, you replace it with a card from your Nertz pile. The purpose of the game is to be the first to empty your Nertz pile (the stack of 13) and shout “Nertz”!
Play continues as you flip over cards from the stack in your non-dominant hand in groups of 3. In other words, grab the top 3 cards from your pile, turn them over and try to use the top one. If there’s no place to put it (either in the center of the table or by creating a stack of solitaire on the cards in front of you) then you keep flipping.
If you choose to creating a stack of solitaire on the cards in front of you (this is optional), you must alternate between reds and blacks, although the suit doesn’t matter. For example, if you have a black 4 of clubs in front of you, you can only add a red 5 (either hearts or diamonds) to it, then a black 6, etc.
Once a round is over (after the winner yells “Nertz”), someone collects all the cards in the center and returns them to their owners. You then count whatever is leftover in your Nertz pile, multiply it by 2 and then subtract it from the number of cards you had out in the middle of the table. For example, if you put out 20 cards and had 3 Nertz left, your score for the round will be 14. (20 – (2 x 3) = 14)
It sounds complicated but once all the players get the hang of it, things move really quickly and everyone has such a great time!
Even though the game officially says for ages 8+, we’ve had younger kids play pretty succesfully. They don’t quite get as fast as everyone else but our little Mimi really enjoys it even though she’s barely 6. She’s also scary good at cheating and somehow manages to have way too many aces in that first lineup!
It’s always easier for me to learn how to play a game once I’ve seen it played so here’s a (really high-quality – ha!) video of our family playing a round. It’s easiest to understand if you just watch one person playing; I’m at the head of the table (top of the video) and I win the round so if you just watch what I do, it should be fairly easy to figure out!
Give it a try this weekend and let me know what you think!