Tic-Tac-Toe Played Aces High

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Introduction: Tic-Tac-Toe Played Aces High

About: I'm all about Making and Mental Health. Reach out if you need a chat - find me on Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX.

A twist on the traditional game of noughts and crosses or tic-tac-toe, played with cards and no starting grid...

It's a lot quicker to actually get sorted and start playing than it is to read the instructions...

Step 1: Preparation

Start by sorting an ordinary deck of cards into the four suits, then selecting one red suit and one black suit. Set the rest of the cards safely aside.

Step 2: Shuffle

Shuffle each suit separately, and put them face-down so that neither player can see the order of the cards.

Step 3: First Move

The player going first selects the first card from the top of their pile, and places it down on the playing surface. This is the start of the grid, but you do not yet know where in the grid this card lies - the centre? A corner?

Step 4: Second Move

The second player draws their first card, and places it anywhere that would work as being in the 3x3 grid.

Step 5: Define the Grid

As players keep placing cards in the imagined grid, it will eventually become obvious where the grid really is. In this example game, placing the Jack of Spades down fixes the grid, which means that all the cards played so far are in the middle of the sides of the grid.

Step 6: The Twist

The red player has put down the Nine of Hearts, and looks certain to win the game on their next move. The black player, though, has drawn the Queen of Spades as their next card, which means they can play the extra rules of this version of tic-tac-toe: you can play cards on top of other cards.

You can play a card you draw on top of one of your opponent's cards, if the card you are placing is of higher value than the card in the grid.

Queen is higher than Nine, so can cover the Nine.

You may not cover your own cards, and you may not cover cards of equal value (eg a Six cannot cover a Six).

Step 7: The Ace

Play continues with players taking turns: Ten of Hearts fills the centre space, but then is covered by an Ace.

In this game, Aces are high or low as each player desires.

The Spades player covers the red ten with a "high" Ace. The next red card is a six - as well as going into an empty space, it could also be played on top of the Ace as a "low" card.

Step 8: Winning

Play continues, turn by turn, until one player completes a line of three cards of their colour.

Here, black eventually wins with their final move of covering the red six with a black eight.

Step 9: Variations

You might want to add your own "house" rules to the game. If you do, please describe them in the comment section so that others can try them.

Extra rules you could try:

  • Mark out the grid before playing any cards.
  • Use the full half-deck for each player.
  • Play four-handed, with two black players and two red players. Players work as teams of two.
  • Do not limit the grid, but keep playing in all directions as space allows.

Let me know how you go...

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