Rules for the Joker Marbles Card Game

By Kirsten Ipsen
Joker Marbles uses a traditional deck of cards.

Joker Marbles is a board game of both strategy and luck that can be played by two to six players. The game is played with an ordinary deck of cards, a Joker Marbles game board and five marbles of matching color per player. Joker Marbles is also commonly referred to as "Pegs and Jokers."

Object of the Game

The object of Joker Marbles is to move all your marbles around the board from your “Start,” or “Home,” to your "Castle." On the board, the cross shape is the player's "Home" position, and the upside-down L shape is the player's "Castle." Typically, movement around the board is clockwise.

Preparation

Each player chooses a color and takes five marbles of that color and places them in their "Home" position. The dealer shuffles the deck and deals five cards to each player. The dealer then places the rest of the cards in the center of the game board to be used as a draw pile. The players have the option to play as teams, pairs or individuals.

Card Values

Each card dictates specific movement of a marble. For the most part, each card tells the player to move one of his marbles the number indicated on the card. For example, if the player plays a three, he can move one of his marbles three spaces. Of all the cards in the deck, only aces, face cards and jokers allow a player to move her marble from "Home."

Exceptions

An ace can be used to move your marble one space, or it can allow you to free one of your marbles from "Home." Sevens allow you to move one marble forward seven spaces, or you can split the seven spaces between two marbles. For example, you could move one marble one space, and the other marble six spaces. Eights move a player's marble backward eight spaces. Although it is not universally accepted, some versions of the game allow nines to be used to move a marble nine spaces forward or be divided into moving two pieces--one forward and one backward to equal nine.

Face cards allow the player to move one marble 10 spaces or remove a marble from "Home." Jokers are wild cards; they allow the player to replace another marble on the board with a marble from "Home."

Beginning Play

The player to the left of the dealer begins by picking up a card from the draw pile. He then selects a card to discard face up in front of him. The player then moves his marble according to the action dictated by the card. After his turn, the player to his left repeats these steps.

Winning the Game

If you are playing as individuals, the winner of the game is the first person who gets all of her marbles in her "Castle." If you are playing in teams or pairs, the players who finish first use their remaining moves to assist the player on their team closest to their left.

'Bump Position'

If your marble's final space in a movement sequence is occupied by another marble, the other marble is in the "bump position." If the marble in bump position belongs to an opponent, the marble is returned to your opponent's "Home." If the marble belongs to a teammate, the marble is sent to the entrance of her "Castle." Beware when bumping your teammates' marbles. If you bump a marble that belongs to a teammate and the entrance to her "Castle" is filled by another marble, your teammate's marble must be returned "Home."

General Rules

You cannot move a marble past one of your own marbles, either forward or backward. Also, you must play if you can. If the only marble you have in play is at the entrance of your "Castle" waiting to be moved in, you must play it, even if it means going around the board another time.

About the Author

Kirsten Ipsen has been writing since 2005. She worked with a nonprofit organization in Toronto as a section editor and writer for its magazine, "Paw Prints Canada." Ipsen's expertise includes literature, psychology, animal training and personal fitness. She holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in English and linguistics from McMaster University.