Skyjo Rules: Card Game Instructions

Skyjo is a modern card game from Germany. It’s dynamic, full of twists, and genuinely enjoyable. But the Skyjo rules are somewhat complicated, and people often struggle to get them right. This guide explains how to play Skyjo in a nutshell.

Skyjo is an intriguing card game that requires players to predict (or guess), make strategic (or impulsive) choices, and count their scores based on the value of their cards.

Since the game is suitable for older kids, and up to 8 players can enjoy it, it is among the most popular group games for teenagers

This Skyjo rules guide will cover the following: 

  • What is Skyjo?
  • What you’ll need to play Skyjo
  • Skyjo rules
  • How to play Skyjo (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to Skyjo (our guides)

Continue reading to learn how to play Skyjo,” including detailed instructions on scoring.

What is Skyjo

Skyjo Card Game Info Image

Skyjo is a popular card game centered around counting, predicting, and collecting points. 

The game requires some basic knowledge of arithmetics. Still, it also takes good concentration, logic, strategic thinking, and luck to win. 

Number of Players: 2 – 8 players 

Ages: 8+

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Length of Play: Approximately 30 minutes 

Category: Educational strategic card game

Similar to: Phase 10, GoLow, 3UP 3DOWN

Main Objective: Draw and discard cards with different values aiming for the lowest score.

Why We Love It: This thoughtful game requires equal shares of strategy and luck.

What You’ll Need to Play Skyjo

All you need to play Skyjo is included in the original Skyjo game kit

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The set includes:

  • 150 playing cards
  • Scorecard
  • Instructions

You will also need a spacious table since the game involves spreading many cards simultaneously.

Related: If you enjoy Skyjo, you can also try the new Skyjo Action game.

Skyjo Rules 

Skyjo is relatively simple, but it takes a while to comprehend the rules and get the logic behind them. Let’s start with the initial setup.

Starting the Game

First, take all the cards out of the package and shuffle them. This is how you deal and organize them:

  • Each player gets 12 cards.
  • Cards are placed face down in front of the players in three rows of four.
  • The remaining cards are piled face-down in the center of the table.
  • Take the upper card from the pile, flip it face-up, and lay it next to the pile.
  • Prepare a scorecard with a pen.

Now when you’re all set, you can start playing.

How to Decide Who Goes First

To decide who goes first, start with a simple shootout round. It goes as follows:

  • All players pick two of their cards and flip them over (just like when you play Memory game).
  • Count the values of your cards. The player with the highest number goes first. 
  • In case of a tie, all players turn over one more card (or multiple, if needed) and compare their total scores again.

The game continues in a clockwise direction. Each new round is started by the player who ended the previous round. 

How to Play Skyjo

This is how the game proceeds:

  • The first player draws a card from the pile OR the up-facing card next to it. 
  • The choice is yours, but remember that you aim for the lowest score (so, if the up-facing card is 11, it’s worth trying your luck with the down-facing card).
  • If you take a card from the pile, you may decide to keep it OR discard it on the up-facing pile.
  • If you keep the card, choose any down-facing card from your grid and replace it. Now you must discard the replaced card.
  • If you discard the card drawn from the pile, you still have to reveal one of your cards in the grid. Turn it over and leave it in its place.

Now let’s get back to the beginning when you decide which card to draw:

  • If you chose the up-facing card instead, you must play it
  • Pick one down-facing card from your grid and replace it with the card you have drawn (even if it means you have to discard the card with a lower value).
  • Once you’ve completed your turn, it’s up to the next player.

The players take turns until someone turns over all of their cards. The remaining players finish one last turn, then it’s time to count the score.

Skyjo Scoring

To calculate your score, flip over all your cards (if you have not already) and count their values. 

But first, check if you have a column of three identical cards (e.g., three number 5 cards in a vertical row). If you do, put them away and don’t count them towards your score!

Cards are ranked from -2 up to 12. Positive numbers are added up, whereas negative numbers are deducted. This is how you evaluate the score:

  • The player who revealed all cards first needs to have the lowest score. Otherwise, his score gets doubled(e.g., player 1 ends the round with 40 points, whereas player 2 has 39 points. Player 1 receives 80 points).
  • The score from each round is logged in the scorecard. 
  • The game continues until someone reaches 100 points
  • At that point, the player with the lowest score wins.

In case of a tie, the game continues for another round (or more, if needed).

How to Play Skyjo – Video Tutorial 

Skyjo Frequently Asked Questions

Where did the game Skyjo get its name?

Magilano, the producer behind Skyjo, says that the name combines the words ‘sky’ and ‘jump.’

What do you do when you run out of cards in Skyjo?

Since all the discarded cards stay in the discard/draw pile, you cannot run out of cards in Skyjo.

Is Skyjo and Skyjo Action the same?

Skyjo Action follows the classic Skyjo rules, but it adds ‘action’ and ‘joker’ cards that slightly modify the gameplay. 

Other Similar Games to Skyjo (Our Guides) 

If you like Skyjo, check out our guides to other similar games:

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