How to Play Nertz the Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

If you’re a fan of card games, one of the most convenient games to have in your repertoire is Nertz (or Nerts) the card Game. 

Learning the Nertz card game rules are straightforward if you’re already familiar with Solitaire. Nertz takes Solitaires concept and turns it into a patient yet competitive affair for multiple players. 

Other card games such as Conquian rules or the Pitty Pat card game are more slow-paced. So if you’re planning a game night, you can up the stakes by introducing Nertz the card game into the mix.

Understanding how to set the game up, and key terms required for gameplay is important to know before diving into the game. Luckily, all these and more will get covered in our detailed guide on how to play Nertz further below.

What Is Nertz the Card Game?

Nertz Card Game Info Image

Nertz the card game gets traced back to as early as the 1940s, with different variations depending on the region. 

The origin of the game is largely unknown according to the National Nertz Association, who take pride in the fact that the game is mysterious.

Thus, they draw inspiration into solo card games such as Speed (See Speed card game rules), Canfield, and Demon Solitaire to form the game that gets played today. 

Number of Players Required: 2-8 players. For most entertaining gameplay results, try to play with no more than 5. More than 8 the game becomes too difficult to play.

Who Can Play It: Recommended for players ages 8+.

Difficulty: Medium difficulty.

Length of Play: 20 – 30 minutes.

Main Goal: Become the first player to be able to get rid of all cards from the ‘Nertz’ pile and have the highest score at the end.

Why we love it: A card game that rewards patience but is also ultra-competitive, it can be tricky to learn at first. But once you and the pals have got the hang of the Nertz card game rules, then it will lead to hours of many tense games.

Playing Nertz – What You’ll Need:

Like many card games, you’ll need a standard 52 card deck and Nertz is no exception to this. 

  • 1 x Standard deck of cards (PER PLAYER!)

The difference with this game is that every player must have their own deck of cards. Each deck must have a different design on its back for the game to work.

This means you can get creative with what deck of cards you choose to buy. Purchase these cards designed for Nertz that all have a different backing to guarantee everyone has a different design.

Nertz: The Fast Frenzied Fun Card Game
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Nertz Card Game Setup 

Once each player has received their unique deck of cards, shuffle before dealing. Make each player responsible for their own decks shuffling and dealing.

Each player will need to deal 13 cards in one pile, 12 faced down and the 13th card face up on top. This is the Nertz pile.

Next to the Nertz pile, each player needs to deal with 4 cards face up side-by-side to begin 4 work piles.

Leave the remaining cards face down in a pile as the stock. Take three of these cards from the top and place face up in a pile, as this is the waste.

Players form a circle with their pile of cards, as the area in the middle of all players is the common area. This is where gameplay takes place.

The individual area in which the cards are set up is each player’s tableau.

Playing Nertz Card Game Image

Nertz Card Game Rules

As soon as players have formed their piles, are sat in a circle comfortably, and have all their snacks ready, the game of Nertz can begin.

Starting the Game

The Nertz Card Game rules don’t have players taking turns like a conventional card game. Everyone plays at the same time in a fast-paced strategy game. 

Players must only move cards from the common area with one hand, the other hand must be holding onto their stock at all times.

Start the game when everyone is ready.

How to Play Nertz the Card Game

  • Work Piles

Work Piles get built up in descending order with the colors alternating and the cards overlapping one another.

So a red 7 is on a black 8, which is on a red 9, and so on. Players can move any card on one of the work piles onto another work pile if it’s possible to do so, with any other card below it going too.

If there is an empty space in one of the 4 work piles, then players can fill the gap with any card left in a player’s stockpile. Or players can play any card that is in another work pile regardless of where it is.

  • Nertz Pile

The Nertz Pile is where you can play cards onto empty spaces onto the work pile. They can also get played onto your existing work pile if you have a card that fits, or onto your foundation.

Turn the card below over once a face-up card on the Nertz Pile gets played. As soon as these are all empty, that player can shout ‘Nertz’ to stop the game and move on to scoring.

  • Foundations

Foundations are what’s formed in the common area and must always begin with an ace and go up in numerical order with cards from the same suit as the ace.

Players form these whenever a player comes across an ace in any of their piles but isn’t exclusive to one player. So anyone can play a card onto anyone’s foundation if it fits.

There must only be one of each suit foundation in play at one time, so 4 at one time in total. Once a full set gets reached, Players turn these over and set them aside.

  • Stock and Waste Pile

Start the waste pile with 3 cards from the stock face up, but they must get played in the order that they’re set down.

The top card of the waste pile can get used onto one of a player’s work pile or a foundation if it fits.

Once there are two cards left in the stock, put these onto the waste pile, and turn the waste pile over to form a new stock. Draw another 3 cards for a new waste pile.

The winner gets decided when one player goes through their Nertz Pile first and declares. They do not have to declare as soon as they finish their Nertz Pile, so they can improve upon their score if they wish.

Scores are then counted up depending on what is in a player’s work piles.

Scoring In The Nertz Card Game

Once a player calls a Nertz, they count up any card that they have played onto a foundation and get given 1 point for each card that they have managed to add.

This is the reason why it is vital each player uses their own deck of cards with a different back to identify each player’s successful play.

For every card left in the Nertz pile, that player must suffer a -2 point penalty that gets deducted from their score.

The highest score at the end of the game wins.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to successfully place all the cards in order when playing Nertz?

Players don’t need to completely organize their deck of cards as that would make gameplay way too long, hence the scoring system.

Depending on how other players have done, you may not even need to complete 1 out of the 4 sets to become the winner. Although completing your Nertz often leads to a solid score.

What happens if all players cannot make any more moves before they complete a Nertz pile?

In the unlikely scenario of this happening, players pick up their waste pile to form a new stock, and place the top card on the stock onto the bottom.

Only do this when all players are stuck. If one or more players can still make a move then the game must continue as normal.

If after doing this players get stuck again, go on scoring with every player suffering a -2 point penalty for every card left in their Nertz pile.

Alternative Games to Nertz the Card Game

Playing a round of Nertz is not for the faint-hearted. It requires the most successful players to be patient at times but also being able to make quick decisions to win.

If you and your pals are a fan of more challenging card games and are looking for something else to play, have a look at the Hand Knee and Foot card game or Spite and Malice card game.

Or are modern spins on classic card games more your thing? Then 5 Crown rules version of rummy offers a twist to gameplay that completely changes the way you play.

You may also want to play alternative card games such as Apples to Apples or Unstable Unicorns.

All these games are ideal to play with a group of friends or family and are almost certain to differ from the normal card games that are usually played.

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