A little bit of luck and a fair share of agility and focus is what you need to master Egyptian Ratscrew. Want to learn more about this popular card game? These Egyptian Ratscrew rules will guide you through the gameplay step-by-step.
Egyptian Ratscrew is also known as Egyptian War Game or Egyptian Slap.
This family-friendly card game is dynamic, fun, and relatively simple, making it a perfect indoor group game for kids and adults.
This Egyptian Ratscrew rules guide will cover the following:
- What is Egyptian Ratscrew?
- A brief history of Egyptian Ratscrew
- What you’ll need to play Egyptian Ratscrew
- Egyptian Ratscrew rules
- How to play Egyptian Ratscrew (video tutorial)
- Other similar games to Egyptian Ratscrew (our guides)
Read on and learn how to play Egyptian Ratscrew with your friends or family.
What is Egyptian Ratscrew
Egyptian Ratscrew card game is all about focus, fast reactions, and unpredictability. It is quick and undemanding on equipment or gameplay area, meaning that you can play it anywhere and at any time.
Number of Players: 2 and more players
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Length of Play: 15+ minutes
Category: Card matching slap game
Similar to: War, Beggar-My-Neighbor, Slaps
Main Objective: Capture all the cards from the deck.
Why We Love It: Egyptian Ratscrew is a dynamic game full of friendly rivalry for all age groups.
A brief history of Egyptian Ratscrew
Egyptian Ratscrew is a modern American take on a traditional British game, Beat the Knave out of Doors, known at least since the 18th century, which was later also known as Beggar-My-Neighbor.
The game has even appeared in Charles Dickens’s famous 1861 novel Great Expectations as the only game Pip (the main character) could play.
Besides this notorious cultural reference, the game also drew the interest of numerous mathematicians who tried to calculate whether it could be played indefinitely.
The latest record held by Richard P. Mann, a mathematician from the University of Leeds, proves that the game can last for at least 1100+ tricks.
What You’ll Need to Play Egyptian Ratscrew
To play Egyptian Ratscrew, you are going to need only one important thing:
- A standard 52-card deck of French-style cards. The deck can include Jokers, but they are not mandatory (I will explain that shortly).
Besides that, you only need a table to play Egyptian Ratscrew, so the game is ideal for traveling or camping.
Pro tip: Egyptian Ratscrew also belongs among popular big group games. Just add one or multiple identical cards decks to the game to accommodate more players.
Egyptian Ratscrew Rules and Gameplay
Egyptian Ratscrew is a relatively simple game, but it has some specific rules you should memorize upfront 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 the clockwise direction, starting with the player sitting on the left from the dealer.
How to Play Egyptian Ratscrew
Once you’re all set up, this is how the game proceeds:
- Player number one turns over the upper card from his 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 his upper card.
- When a player turns over a face card(J, Q, K) or ace, the situation changes. Such a player becomes a challenger.
- Now the next (“challenged”) player aims to turn over another face card. He has four chances to do that after an Ace / three after a King / two after a Queen / one after a Jack (you can come across slightly different rules in different 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 pile. The winner then starts another round.
- If the next player succeeds, he is the new challenger who gets the chance to take the pile of cards – but only if another player won’t beat him with his face card/ace.
One important thing that can effectively override this routine is cards slapping. It occurs when players spot a particular combination of cards in a pile.
Whoever slaps the card pile in the right moment first wins all cards in it.
Slapping rules can vary significantly from country to country and player to player. Therefore, players should always agree on the allowed card combinations beforehand.
These are some of the most common card combinations that enable cards slapping:
- “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)
Using jokers in Egyptian Ratscrew is optional. If you decide to use them, their appearance also means that the pile can be immediately slapped.
If a player slaps the pile at the wrong moment, he must put two of his cards below the central pile.
Egyptian Ratscrew Scoring
The aim of the game is to collect as many cards as possible. 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 manage to slap the cards and capture the pile. However, if you hit the pile at the wrong moment with no cards left, this is your ultimate defeat.
The winner of the game is whoever manages to capture all cards from the deck.
How to Play Egyptian Rat Screw – Video Tutorial
Egyptian Ratscrew 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 a French-style deck of 52 cards. The dealer deals all cards equally among the players, so in the case of two players, each gets 26 cards. 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 written 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 our guides to these alternative games: