Spite and Malice, also known as Cat and Mouse, is a card game for two or more players. It is a form of competitive solitaire and has a number of variations that can be played with two or three regular decks of cards. A variation sold by Hasbro is called Spite and Malice, and another variation sold by Mattel is called Skip-Bo. Another is the card game Flinch.
The deck consists of three regular playing card decks with the jokers removed or jokers may be retained and used as wild, although the United States Playing Card Company's version of the game uses two 52 card decks. The rank of the cards is Ace low and then proceeding normally up to Queen which is the highest card in the deck. Kings are wild and may substitute for any other card rank excluding Ace/1. Suits have no bearing to the game.
Two or more (if too many people play it is possible you will need to add additional standard playing card decks to your Spite and Malice deck). Usually the game is played with 2 to 4 players.
Be the first person to move all the cards in your goal pile into the playing piles, thus winning the game.
Players cut for the deal with the highest card winning the deal, aces being high. Once a dealer is chosen he/she deals 26 cards to each player (or 13 cards if a shorter game is desired). The players do not look at these cards but simply collect them into a pile, hereafter called the goal pile. Once each goal pile is dealt, the top card should be turned over by each player and placed face up on the pile.
All un-dealt cards are left face down in a stack placed central to all players called the draw pile.
There are three kinds of piles in Spite and Malice.
The first person to get a turn is the dealer. In play, each turn will start with a player drawing from the common draw pile to give themselves a five card hand. Then they make whatever plays they are able until they have no more plays and then a card is played from a player's hand into that person's personal discard area which ends their turn. Play starts with the dealer and goes around the table in a clockwise fashion.
The best move would be to be able to play the goal card directly on a playing pile (it would have to be an ace or a king at this point since all four playing piles are empty at this point). If this is not possible, the player may use the cards in his hand in to put cards into the playing piles and "play up" to the value of the goal card. If the player cannot do either of these things, the turn might simply consist of making a discard to one of his/her four discard piles.
However, if all five cards in the hand can be played in the playing piles, (For example if a player drew A, 2, 3, A, 2, he/she could play ace, two three on one playing pile and ace and then 2 on a second pile) resulting in running out of cards before making a discard, that player may draw five more playing cards to replenish his hand. It is possible, if not probable, for this to happen more than once, or even a few times in a row before someone is forced to make a discard because they cannot make any further plays.
Once a discard is made the turn moves to the next player. That person starts their turn by drawing cards from the draw pile to make their five card hand. On someone's first turn, they will always draw five cards but on subsequent turns they will draw however many cards are required.
For example, suppose they were able to play three cards and then ended their first turn with their discard. On the next turn, they would have one card left in their hand and they would then draw four more to reconstitute themselves back to a five card hand. Or possibly, a player's only possible move on their first play was to discard because they had no playable card on the playing piles. So they discard one card leaving him or her with four, in which case on their subsequent turn they would simply draw one card to end up with the standard five card hand. No matter how many cards are able to be played, a turn ends with the player placing a card from their hand into one of their discard piles, unless they play the winning move of putting their last goal card into play in which case they have won and no discard is required.
If everyone has a high goal card at the start of play, many turns may end up being just drawing one card, then deciding which card to add to the discard piles until someone gets a sufficient number of cards saved up in the discard piles of cards enough to reach their high number.
Or, one person may end up with a low goal card and in reaching that one and then ending their turn, they will have unavoidably helped someone else to reach a higher number that was their goal card.
As play continues many cards can accumulate in the discard piles. In order to make your goal card or prevent your opponent from reaching theirs, you can use both cards from your hand, and cards from your discard piles during your turn.
After each hand has ended, scoring takes place. Only the player who cleared his/her goal pile can score and scores five points for clearing the goal pile and one point per card left in his/her opponents' goal piles. If in the rare instance that the draw pile is exhausted and there is no possible way to furnish a new one, a drawn hand is declared, and the person closest to a cleared goal pile scores the difference between his/her opponents' leftover cards and his/her own. Games are usually played to 25, 50, or 100 points.
Some rules use unlimited center stacks - they are only removed when the draw stack is depleted. Also, sometimes a rule is employed requiring aces and deuces to be played any time a player is able to do so.
Spite and Malice is similar to a game called Misery. It is played with 2 players. Two decks are used instead of three (unless three people play then three decks) and two (goal) piles of 12 per player and a hand of 6.
Another variation calls for all piles to be built up to the King, with Jokers being used as wild cards.
Another variation calls for all piles to be built up to the King, and Jokers are used as wild cards (Wild represents all cards besides A, 2, 7, J)
One variation calls for one deck for every player (i.e. 3 players play with 3 decks) with a maximum of four center stacks to be built from Ace to Queen with Kings as wilds (Jokers are not used here.)
Another variation requires a natural A and 2 (no wild cards for A or 2) but does permit discarding of pairs of cards (two Queens, or two 7's, etc.) but not more than two cards at a time.