Switch is a card game in the shedding genre, closely related to another card game called Crazy Eights. Switch is particularly popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as other Commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia.
Switch is also known as “Take 2.” This name derives from a rule that also exists in Crazy Eights, where a Player who plays a 2-card forces the next Player to either play another 2, or “take 2” cards from the deck of remaining cards.
How to Play Switch?
Switch, or the Take 2 Card Game, is played using the standard, Anglo-American 52-card deck. It can be Played with 2-8 Players, though this guide will assume 4 Players only. More decks can be added if more Players are desired.
Each Player will be dealt 7 cards, and then the remaining cards in the deck will be set aside. The top card from the deck will be turned face-up, and this card will be the “starter” for the game.
Like in Crazy Eights, a legal move must be a “power card” as they are called in Switch, or a card that is ranked (Ace, K, Q, J, 10-2) the same as the top card.
Alternatively, a card must be the same suit as the top card.
For example, assuming the K♦ is the top card, then a Player may play a K♠ or an A♦.
When Playing a card of the same suit, it must be a higher rank than the top card. For example, you may play a 9♦ over a 6♦, but you may not play a 6♦ over a 9♦.
For example, if the starter or top-card of the discard pile is a 5, then a Player may play a power card, or a 4 or 6.
These “power cards” will be explained in the section titled “Card Meanings” below.
Each Player takes their turn, playing 1 or 2 cards at a time depending on the context of the situation. Regular cards may only be played 1 at a time, but some power cards are allowed to be played in multiples at once, such as the Jacks or the 2s.
Ending the game
Like all Shedding games, the goal of the game is to empty the hand of cards. The moment the hand is empty, so long as there is no outstanding obligation to draw cards, that Player immediately wins the game and can declare “Switch!”
The game does not immediately end, however. The first player to declare Switch is the winner, but there are runner’s up. The only true loser is the last Player to have cards remaining in their hand.
- If a Player cannot make any legal moves, then they must draw from the deck until they are able to make a legal move, immediately playing that legal card.
- A legal move must either be a power card, or a card of the same rank or suit as the top card of the discard pile.
- The “starter” cannot be a power card. If the first card turned up from the deck is a power card, cards will be turned up until the first non-power card is upturned. That card is then the starter.
- When the deck is emptied, the discard pile is shuffled and turned into a new deck. Same as at the start of the game, the top card is up-turned to generate the starter.
- Players cannot end the game on a double, meaning if the last two cards in your hand are Black Jacks, you may not play them both at once.
Like in its companion games from across the Atlantic, Crazy Eights, and the UNO card game, Switch utilizes a system of special cards that have unique effects. These are known as power cards, in Switch. These power cards are the following:
2s force the next Player to draw 2 cards from the deck.
These 2 cards cannot be played the turn they were drawn. A Player may counter a 2 by playing another 2. This “stacks” the cards, forcing the next Player to draw 4 cards instead. If that Player manages to play another 2, then Player 4 will be forced to draw 6 cards.
Skips the next Player’s turn.
If an 8 is played in response to another 8, then it will stack just as the 2s do, meaning the next Player will be forced to skip their next two turns.
Tens swap the flow of play, from clockwise to counterclockwise.
This means the Player who went before the 10 was Played essentially gets a double-turn.
The Black Jack
Forces a Player to draw the number of cards dealt at the start of the game.
Can Stack. Both may be played simultaneously if a Player holds both in their hand.
The Red Jack
Cancels out one Black Jack.
May play both Red Jacks at once if in response to a double-Black Jack play.
The wild card of the game.
May be played on anything, and have anything played on it, regardless of suit or rank.
10s allow a Player to generate a tableau in a single turn.
For example, Player 1 plays a 10, and has a 9, 8, and 7 in their hand. Player 1 may then Play the 10, then the 9, 8 and 7 in that order, all on their same turn.
The following is a possible starting hand in a game of Switch:
8♠, K♥, 10♥, J♦, 5♣, 3♦, A♠
The above is a fairly strong starting hand in a game of Switch. Notice that there is a wide variety of suits in this hand.
Unlike in many card games, a Switch hand benefits from suit diversity, rather than being held back by it. Suit variety allows the unique advantage of playing on a large number of other Player’s hands. As a card must match suit or rank in order to be played, having many different suits allows more opportunities to play over passing.
Furthermore, there is a 10, an 8, an ace, and a Red Jack in this hand. The 10, in conjunction with the 8, could start a massive combo of cards due to the 10’s ability to generate a tableau on the discard pile.
Furthermore, playing the 8 in a 10-tableau will skip the next Player’s turn, negating their advantage gained from taking a second turn due to the 10. If Played optimally, a Player could discard up to 4 cards at once while also skipping the next Player’s turn.
Strategy & Tips
- Try to be the first out. The ranking for winner and runners’ up are the order in which you go out. Being the first out is always the best-case scenario.
- There are more varied “official” power-cards in this game than in Crazy Eights, particularly the Jacks. The Black Jack in Switch is a very powerful card that can be a serious setback to a Player that is close to winning.
- The Red Jack’s only purpose is to block a Black Jack. This means it is very unlikely for a Player to waste their Red Jack, unless they are about to win the game. There is a higher chance of another Player on the table having a Red Jack to counter your Black Jack. If you see a Red Jack being played against another Player’s Black Jack though, immediately play your Black Jack when available. With one Red Jack gone, it is much less likely the Player next to you can counter it.
How many cards do you need to play Switch?
The Switch card game is played with the standard, Anglo-American 52-card deck. When playing with 2-4 Players, a single deck will suffice. Another deck should be added for every 4 Players in a game. 5 Players for example would play using a deck made of two 52-card decks, or 104 cards.
How many cards does each Player start with?
Although this can be variable, depending on the number of Players that are in the game, 7-9 cards is considered the best for this particular game.
If there are 5 or 6 Players, however, consider raising this number even higher to avoid leaving a large number of leftover cards in the deck.
What does a Jack do in Switch?
The color of the Jack is important here. Black Jacks (♠♣) force the next Player to draw the same number of dealt cards. This means that if the game started with 7 cards to each Player, the Black Jack forces the next Player to draw 7 cards.
Both Jacks may be played at the same time, doubling their effect. Like with 2’s, Black Jacks stack, and a Player may play a Black Jack in response to a Black Jack to shift those 14 cards to the next player.
Red Jacks (♥♦) cancel the Black Jack outright, meaning no cards must be picked up. One Red Jack cancels one Black Jack, so if two Black Jacks are played, a Player who only placed one Red Jack will still have to draw 7 cards.