Phase 10 is a card game by Fundex Games that combines rummy with some interesting twists. This family game, for two to six players, is recommended for ages eight and up.
The Phase 10 deck consists of 108 cards. There are 96 number cards from 1 to 12, with two of each in all four colors: blue, yellow, green and red. There are also two wild cards in each color for a total of eight. The deck is rounded out with four blue Skip cards.
Two regular decks of cards, plus jokers, can substitute. Just use the four suits to represent the four colors, and make the kings wild with the jokers as Skip cards. Skip cards may be used when it is your turn to select any player at the table to be skipped. The skip lasts the full round, but after that, the player cannot be skipped until another round passes. If a player uses a Skip as his last card, he must draw a replacement card. You also need a pad and pencil for scoring.
Unlike rummy, Phase 10 has 10 phases, each of which must be completed to win. Once a player has completed the phase, he must discard all cards in his hand by playing them on other laid down phases. This is called "hitting." The first person out of cards wins the phase and earns no points. The rest of the players earn penalty points of the value of the cards remaining in their hands.
If a player completes one of the 10 phases, he moves on to the next phase. Players who do not complete the phase must repeat it until they do. The 10 phases are:
two sets of three one set of three and one run of four one set of four and one run of four one run of seven one run of eight one run of nine two sets of four seven cards of one color one set of five and one set of two one set of five and one set of three
A set is three or more cards with the same number. They can be of any color. A run is four or more cards in number order (2, 3, 4 or 7, 8, 9, for example). The cards can be any color.
Wild cards can substitute for any card in a run or a set, and multiple wild cards may be used. However, at least one card in any run or set must not be a wild card.
Playing the Game
One player is the dealer. She shuffles the deck and deals 10 cards, face down, to each player. The rest of the deck is placed face down in the center to become the draw pile. The top card of the deck is placed face up to become the discard pile.
The person to the dealer's left goes first and can take the face-up card or take the top card from the draw pile. The player then discards one card from her hand. Play continues around the table while trying to complete the phases. If a player can make the current phase with cards in her hand, she lays the phase face up on the table. If she has cards that would be more than the current phase, but are directly part of the set or run, she can lay those down, too. For example, if a player is on Phase 1 and has a set of three and a set of four, he can lay both down even though he only needs two sets of three. A player gets credit for the phase as soon as it is laid down.
After making a phase, a player can attempt to empty his hand in order to win the hand. To do this, the player puts a card ("hits") on any phase laid down already if the card fits with the phase. So if a run of 2, 3, 4 and 5 is on the table, a player can play either a 1 or a 6 on that phase.
Players can only hit during their turn, but they may play as many cards on that one turn as they legally can. After a player has played her phase, she tries to "go out" (empty her hand) as quickly as possible. This can be done by hitting or by discarding.
In order to go out, a player must be able to discard a card at the end of his turn. If he cannot, he becomes a floater and does nothing until the end of the hand. He cannot win the hand if he is floating.
When the hand is complete (someone "goes out"), the rest of the players add up the cards remaining in their hand to get their penalty points as follows:
5 points for all values 1 through 9 10 points for all values 10 through 12 15 points for a Skip 25 points for a wild
These points are used to determine the winner in the event of a tie during the last phase.
Winning the Game
The first player to complete the 10th Phase wins. If two or more players complete Phase 10 in the same hand, the player with the fewest points wins. If the game is still tied, the tied players replay the last phase until someone goes out. That person is then the winner.
Susan Landis-Steward has been a print journalist and editor since 1985, writing for "The Reflector," "The Multnomah Village Post," "The Evergreen Messenger" and "The Oregonian." She has won numerous awards for her reporting and has been published in top academic journals. Landis-Steward has a Master of Science in writing from Portland State University.