This is an ageless card game that kids and adults will all love (as it basically brings out the big kid in everyone). It’s fairly simple to pick up so perfect for parties where you don’t want to spend ages explaining complicated rules to guests who just want to crack on and play the game.
It’s known by many different names across the globe but you’ll probably hear it referred to as Egyptian Rat Screw or Rat Slap most often. The latter name perhaps gives you more of an idea of what’s involved during the game and why it’s such a popular party choice…the piles of cards are slapped for different reasons and this can be as loud and hard as the player likes, which adds to the hilarity. It also means the game can be played while other conversations are taking place or music is playing in the room – in fact, the more noise the better if you want a really wild party!
The game is all about keeping your eye on the ball and having top-notch hand-eye coordination and great reflexes. There’s no tricky arithmetic or calculations; it’s about speed and agility. As with many other card games, the more players you have in the game, the more loud and crazy it will become. Of course, the game will also last longer so the number of players will ultimately depend on whether you’re looking for quick-fire card-party games or longer games for bigger groups or parties. The ultimate aim of the game is to collect all the cards in play.
We’ve set the age minimum at 6 years old here but you could easily adjust the slap rules so that younger kids can join in the fun. They might have trouble remembering all the different rules that apply (but then again, so might some of the adults!) so you could just use two or three of the easier-to-remember rules (such as You’re having a Joke and Double-up – see below for all the slap rules) so they don’t have too much to think about when the game is in play. If kids are playing with adults, it’s a good idea to ask the adult players to remove any rings and bracelets and to go a bit easy on the card slaps so the kids don’t get hurt when play gets frantic.
There’s no real limit on the number of players but we’ve set it at 8 as a rough guideline. This is mainly because every player needs to be able to easily reach the pile of cards in the centre of the playing table, in order to have an equal chance of winning the cards. If you have a large circular table, or a dining table with plenty of seats, then you could probably play the game with even more players. But it might be worth checking that everyone can reach before you begin (especially if children are joining in), or some players will have a distinct advantage and the game won’t be fair. You can also add extra decks of cards into play if you have a lot of players, as this will give more opportunities for the slap rules to apply and, after all, that’s the really fun part of the game.
Age range: 6+
What you need: 1 x standard deck of cards (use extra decks for larger groups of players)
Number of players: 2–8
How to play
As with most card games, the very first thing you need to do is to select a dealer for the first game. You can either just decide who the dealer is, or all players can pick a card from the deck and the player with the highest value card will be dealer.
Tactics and strategy
Concentration is key and players can increase their chances by keeping a close eye on all the cards that are placed, especially when the first few cards of a slap rule are placed down. So, for example, if 3 consecutive cards have been placed in the centre (the Four-up rule), being ready to slap will offer an advantage if the final card is placed down by the next player. It’s also important to remember the previous card that was placed as you never know when a Card Sandwich might occur. So, good memory skills are key.
It’s also perfectly acceptable for players to feign a slap – in other words, raise their hand like they’re going to slap to encourage other players to slap when there’s no slap rule in place. An incorrect slap means a player has to forfeit a card – they have to place the card face up at the bottom of the pile in the centre. Well-played fake slapping can help to clinch the game for clever players.
All in – You can choose to only allow players to continue playing if they’re still holding cards (ie able to keep putting cards down in the centre go when it’s their turn to play), or you can allow them to continue playing when they’ve run out of cards – so they can still try to gain the centre pile when the slap rule applies.
Most cards wins – if you’re tight on time, or you want to get through as many games as possible, you can elect a winner once there’s only one player holding cards. This is slightly different to the regular rules, which state the winner must hold all the cards, including all the cards from the central pile.
One-handed slap – the dealer nominates the right or left hand for each game and this is the only hand that players are allowed to use when slapping the central pile of cards. Anyone who uses the wrong hand can’t win that round. To add to the concentration levels, you could opt to change the nominated hand each round.
Texas rules – this is where the slap rules change slightly so that it’s not about one player getting all the cards in the central pile by being the quickest to slap. Instead, every player tries to take as many cards as they can from the pile once the slap rule comes into play. If you’re going with Texas rules, it’s not recommended to use your prize deck of cards, as the cards might not be in pristine condition once the game ends.
Forehead slap – in this variation of the traditional rules, players have to slap their forehead before they can go ahead and slap the central pile to try to win the cards. It takes a little more concentration and coordination as the natural instinct is to go directly for the cards. You’ll catch out a few players with this rule.
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