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Last One

Mark Alexander reports that this variation of Crazy Eights (for 2 to 6 players) has been traced back to Walla Walla prison in Washington State, USA in the 1980's. Another correspondent tells me that she remembers playing it in the state of Maine, USA in the 1970's.

A standard deck of 52 cards plus two jokers is used. The dealer deals an equal number of cards to each player, from 4 to 8 cards each at the dealer's choice. If all agree, nine cards each can be dealt. The next card is placed face up to start the discard pile and the undealt cards are placed face down beside it, to form the stock. Play is initially clockwise, and the turned up card is considered to have been played by the dealer, so the player to dealer's left will play next, unless the initial turned up card has a special effect.

Normally each player in turn must either play a card to the discard pile, matching the previous top card in number or suit, or draw the top card from the stock. The object is to have no cards left in your hand.

Certain cards have special effects as follows:

Two The next player must draw to cards from the stock, and is not allowed to play a card.
Three If you play a three you may in the same turn play any card on top of it. This is called "stacking".
Four Playing a four causes a "melee"; the player of the four is the "aggressor" (attacker) and the next player in turn is the "aggressee" (defender). If the defender or any other player has the five of the same suit they may play it; the player of the five then becomes the aggressor and the previous aggressor becomes the aggressee. After the five, anyone may play the six of the same suit and so on up. If no one plays the next card, the current aggressee must draw from the stock a number of cards equal to the pip value of the card played by the current aggressor.
Example: A plays the 4; B plays the 5; no one plays the 6; A must draw five cards and the next player in turn after A can then play.
Five, Six, Seven No special effect except as part of a melee begun by a four.
Eight Can be played on any card. The player announces a suit and the next play should be in the announced suit.
Jack The next player skips a turn
Ace The direction of play is reversed

A joker can represent any card of the pack, at the choice of the person who plays it to the discard pile.

A player who has only one card left must say "last card". When a player gets rid of all their cards the play ends.

The punishment for any misplay or failure to call "last card" is to draw one card from the stock.

At the end of the play, anyone who has more than one card scores penalty points for the cards in their hand: face cards and tens are 10, aces are 15, eights are 25, jokers are 40 and other cards are face value. Any player whose penalty points reach or exceed an previously agreed target is eliminated from the game (this is called "going busto"). The last player left in is the winner.