Egyptian Ratscrew Rules 

A little bit of luck and a fair share of focus is what you need to master Egyptian Ratscrew. These Egyptian Ratscrew rules will guide you through the gameplay step-by-step.

Egyptian Ratscrew is also known as Egyptian Slap and Egyptian War Game since it shares some similarities with the War card game and the game of Slapjack.

This family-friendly card game is dynamic, fun, and fairly simple. Nevertheless, it’s also pretty unpredictable, so even the most experienced players can easily end up last.

Key highlights of this Egyptian Ratscrew rules guide: 

  • What is Egyptian Ratscrew
  • Egyptian Ratscrew Rules
  • Egyptian Ratscrew Scoring 
  • Egyptian Ratscrew Rules in Pictures 
  • How to play Egyptian Ratscrew (Video tutorial)

Read on and learn how to play Egyptian Ratscrew with your friends or family.

What is Egyptian Ratscrew?

Egyptian Ratscrew Card Game Info Image

Egyptian Ratscrew is a card-matching game where players compete to capture the entire deck. There are two ways to can accomplish this: luck or great focus.

Number of Players: 2 and more 

Ages: 8+

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Length of Play: 15+ minutes 

Type of Game: Card matching slap game

Similar to: War, Beggar-My-Neighbor, Slapjack

Main Objective: Capture all the cards from the deck.

Our Take: Egyptian Ratscrew is a dynamic game full of friendly rivalry for all age groups.

What You’ll Need to Play Egyptian Ratscrew 

If you plan to play Egyptian Ratscrew, you’ll need the following:

  • Decks: 1
  • Number of Cards: 52
  • Cards Omitted: Jokers

Egyptian Ratscrew Rules

Egyptian Ratscrew is a relatively simple game, but it has some specific rules you should memorize up front to keep up with the game’s dynamic pace. 

Starting the Game

  • First, appoint a dealer who will shuffle the cards thoroughly and deal them one by one evenly among the players facing down
  • Players now form neat piles of their cards in front of them without flipping any of the cards over.
  • The players take turns in a clockwise direction, starting with the player sitting on the dealer’s left.

How to Play Egyptian Ratscrew

Once you’re all set up, this is how the game proceeds:

  • Player number one turns over the top card from their pile and places it in the middle of the table. 
  • If the card has a numeric value (e.g., 7, 8, 9…), it is another player’s turn to flip over their upper card. 
  • The situation changes when a player turns over a face card (J, Q, K) or ace. Such a player becomes a challenger.
  • Now the next (“challenged”) player aims to turn over another face card. They have:
    • 4 chances to do that after an Ace 
    • 3 after a King
    • 2 after a Queen
    • 1 after a Jack 

(you can come across slightly different rules in some countries or regions).

  • If the next player fails, the previous player with a face card wins the pile of cards in the middle, putting it below his stack. The winner then starts another round. 
  • If the next player succeeds, they are the new challenger with the chance to take the pile of cards – but only if another player won’t beat them with their face card/ace.

One important thing that can effectively override this routine is card slapping. It occurs when players spot a particular combination of cards in a pile.

Whoever slaps the card pile at the right moment wins all cards.

Slapping rules

Players should always agree on the allowed card combinations that enable card slapping. These are some of the most common ones:

  • “Double” – Two cards of equal value (e.g., 6 and 6)
  • “Sandwich” – Two equal cards separated by one different card (e.g., 6, 9, and 6)
  • “Top-Bottom” – Card equal to the first card of the whole set.
  • “Tens” – Two consecutively played cards add up to 10 (e.g., 4 and 6). Alternatively, they can be divided by a single face card (e.g., 4, K, and 6). For the purpose of this rule, aces count as one (e.g., 4, A, and 5 = 10).
  • “Run” – Three consecutive ascending/descending cards (e.g., 6, 7, 8 or 8, 7, 6).
  • “Flush”– Three or more consecutive cards of the same suit.
  • “Four-in-a-row” – Four consecutive ascending/descending cards (e.g., 6, 7, 8, 9).
  • “Marriage” – A queen and king cards are laid on the pile consecutively (regardless of their order)

Tip: Using jokers in Egyptian Ratscrew is optional. If you decide to use them, their appearance also means the pile can be immediately slapped.

If a player slaps the pile at the wrong moment, he must put two of their cards below the central pile. Running out of your cards means that you will be eliminated from the game. 

But don’t leave the table yet – you can still return to the game if you slap the cards and capture the pile. 

However, it is your ultimate defeat if you hit the pile at the wrong moment with no cards left.

Egyptian Ratscrew Scoring

There is no scoring in Egyptian Ratscrew. The winner of the game is whoever manages to capture all cards from the deck.

Egyptian Ratscrew Rules in Pictures

Step 1

Shuffle the cards and deal them all one by one among the players facing down. Players form neat piles of their cards in front of them without flipping any of the cards over.

Egyptian Ratscrew rules 1 image

Step 2

A player turns over the top card from their pile and places it in the middle of the table. If it has a numeric value, their turn ends. If it’s a face card or ace, a player becomes a challenger.

Egyptian Ratscrew rules 2 image

Step 3

In a challenge, the next player must also play a face card or ace. The number of chances they have to accomplish this differs based on the last card played.

Egyptian Ratscrew rules 3 image

Step 4

If the player succeeds, the challenge is passed on to another player. Once a player fails, the last successful challenger collects the entire central pile. Next, the winner starts a new pile.

Egyptian Ratscrew rules 4 image

Step 5

Alternatively, a player wins the pile if spotting one of the prescribed combinations and slapping the pile (in this case, it’s “Marriage” – a queen and king played consecutively.)

Egyptian Ratscrew rules 5 image

Step 6

A player that loses all their cards is eliminated from the game. The winner of the game is whoever manages to capture all cards from the deck.

Egyptian Ratscrew rules 6 image

How to Play Egyptian Rat Screw – Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions

Can two people play Egyptian Ratscrew?

Yes, two players can enjoy this game, but it is more fun and dynamic if played by at least 3 or 4 people. 

How many cards do you deal in Egyptian Ratscrew?

This game is played with 52 cards. The dealer deals all cards equally among the players. If the number of players is odd, one player will have one more card than the others.

Why is Egyptian Ratscrew called that?

The game’s origins can be traced to a similar old British card game called Beat the Knave out of Doors and its slightly younger version Beggar-my-neighbor. 

Nevertheless, there is no evidence suggesting why the game is called Egyptian Ratscrew today.

Other Similar Games to Egyptian Ratscrew (Our Guides) 

If you’re looking for some other games similar to Egyptian Ratscrew, check out some of our guides below:

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