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The Three Easiest, Most Fun Card Games Anyone Can Play

Forget game pieces and difficult instructions. These games are easy to learn and fun to play.

by
Annie Burdick


I’m a bit picky when it comes to games. I love games, but I have my old standbys, and often I’ve gotten so settled into a few that the idea of trying out anything new is frankly a bit unappealing. Couple that with burnout and brain fog, and even with all the extra time at home that the pandemic generously provided, I was still struggling with the idea of learning big, complicated board games.

Enter my new game love: simple and endlessly entertaining card games.

Between the fact that they’re 1) deeply portable and easy to bring everywhere 2) usually good for two people, or bigger groups and 3) so easy to learn. 

These are the three that have been keeping me most occupied of late, and throughout the past months and year of boredom, and I’m hoping you give them a chance and try them out. If you love games but hate the idea of little game pieces and lots of rules, you will surely love these as much as I do. Maybe more, but I doubt it!


Coup

Picture a combination of the classic and delightfully vulgar card game Bullshit and the role-playing, lie-your-ass-off game Secret Hitler (or any of the similar games out there) and you’re already getting a sense of Coup, the game that my friends and I genuinely could not stop playing once we started. A tiny and compact little game that you can learn in no time and then pick up more and more strategies as you go, it’s honestly hard not to get a bit hooked. 

The game essentially offers up several different characters you may be posing as, each with different roles and strategies for making money, defending their lives, and so on. On each turn you decide what action to take, and whether to insinuate lies about which character(s) you are at the same time. If you get called on a lie, a life is lost, but if you get challenged when telling the truth, your challenger loses a life. Essentially high stakes and plenty of room for humor, so it’s perfect for spending an hour or two with some friends, lying your asses off.

Dungeon Mayhem

A simple-to-learn magic-packed card game brought to you by (yes, you guessed it) the makers of Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon Mayhem takes some elements of that long-loved role-playing game and puts it into a much more compact, simple format for simpletons like myself who just want to keep their gaming easy on a Sunday afternoon. 

Like Coup, the game has several characters you may play as, each with some variations in abilities and bonuses. You then spend simple rounds doing battles, taking out opponents, and burning through hit points to see if defensive or offensive strategies give you a better chance. And, it’s plenty of fun with just two players, so you don’t even have to know a bunch of people to have some fun.

The Mind

Okay, but if you’re just going to buy one new card game to amuse yourself for the summer, The Mind might  need to be it. I came across this one most recently, by way of my family, and honestly I’m still a bit tragic that I didn’t have it to occupy me for more of the past boredom year. Needless to say, it makes for a smash of an afternoon. 

This is not the greatest game for those who are ultra-competitive and need to beat everyone else at the table, because it’s one of those rare games in which everyone playing is on a team together, winning or losing as a unit. If you all suck, you suck together. And this is the simple beauty of it. The play of the game would sound mind-boggling if I attempted to condense it in a sentence or so here, but rest assured you’ll pick it up quickly and it’s truly excellent.

Annie Burdick writes for Pretzel.io's Good Stuff series.

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