Skip-Bo is a proprietary card game from Mattel, the same company that produces UNO. However, Skip-Bo is more closely related to the various solitaire games than it is to Uno’s gameplay.
Just like its other games, Mattel sells a proprietary deck that can be used to play Skip-Bo. The game can also be played with a standard deck of cards, basically being the same as the Spite and Malice card game.
How to Play Skip-Bo?
Skip-Bo is played using the specially made Skip-Bo deck, produced by Mattel. This deck should be shuffled, and then cards dealt out to Players depending on the number participating in a given game. A Skip-Bo deck has 162 cards, 12 sets of cards ranked 1-12, as well as 18 Wild Cards.
If there are 2-4 Players, each Player should be dealt 30 cards, all face-down into a single pile, with no Players allowed to look at the cards.
If Playing with 5-8 Players, the same dealing rules apply except each Player will be given 20 cards instead of 30.
Once each Player has been dealt their requisite 20-30 cards, the Dealer will then place the remaining cards face-down in the center of the table to act as a Stock.
To the immediate right or left of the stock, Players should imagine 4 distinct discard pile zones, which they will use during each of their turns to Play the cards from their stock.
In front of each Player, there are four possible discard piles, which Players use at the end of their turn.
Before gameplay begins, each Player should draw the top card from their stock and turn it face-up, such that they and all other Players at the table can see it. Once this has been done, the youngest player at the table takes the first turn, with subsequent turns being taken on a clockwise basis.
On a Player’s turn, they may place cards from their hand, or the top card of their stock, into the 4 pre-determined play zones. When playing the top card from the stock, Players should immediately flip up the next top card, such that the top card of their stock is always face-up.
Players may place as many cards as are legal, and if a Player manages to play all five of the cards in their hand, they should immediately draw 5 cards from the draw pile (not their personal stock).
In order to legally place a card into a Play area, it must follow the sequential order. All zones must start with a 1, and Players may place cards on the play areas sequentially. 2s may be played on 1s, 3s on 2s, 4s on 3s, etc. Players must always ascend in order, and a card of equal or less value may not be played.
There are eighteen Skip-Bo cards in the deck, which may be used as wild cards. A Skip-Bo card may have any card placed upon it, and may be placed upon any card.
Players continue playing until all of the cards in their stock have been put into the play area, at which point they are declared the winner.
Rules for Skip-Bo
A summary of the rules can be found below:
- Cards in the play area must be played in ascending order, from 1-12.
- Skip-Bo cards can be used as wild cards, played on top of any card, and can have any card placed upon it.
- Players may play as many cards as they are legally able to do so in a turn, but must discard a card unless their hand is empty and they may not draw any more cards.
- When one of the tableaus, the piles in the play area, reaches 12, that pile is moved and reshuffled into the main deck, opening up that play area to a 1 card once more.
Skip-Bo can be played in two ways: Either a game-to-game winner takes all system, or a matchplay system in which Players are awarded points based on their performance in the game that they won.
In a Matchplay style game of Skip-Bo, Players are awarded 25 points for winning a round, and 5 additional points for every card remaining in their opponents’ stockpiles.
The first Player in a Matchplay game of Skip-Bo to receive 500 total points is the overall winner.
Imagine the following is a sequence of cards made by a Player in a game of Skip-Bo:
Start the turn with the following five cards:
4, 6, 10, 12, Skip-Bo
The following card is the top of the stock-pile:
And the following Play zones are topped with:
3 5 6 1
This allows the Player to then place their 4 on the 3, and their 6 on the 5. The play area now looks like this:
4 6 6 1
The Player can then use a Skip-Bo card on either of the 6s in order to fill in for the missing 7, which will then allow them to play the 8 from their stock, and turn up another stock-pile card.
The stock-pile is a 3, so this Player will then end their turn by discarding one card, ending their turn with one card in their hand. Players cannot draw from the communal stock until their hand is empty.
Strategy & Tips
Can you play Skip-Bo with regular cards?
Yes. Skip-Bo is essentially a proprietary version of Spite and Malice. As such, it can easily be played with normal cards, though the proportions of cards may be off slightly.
Players must choose which card will be their Skip-Bo card, usually aces. However, Players will either have to remove one ace from each deck combined to make the deck, or Players will be more likely to get wildcards than in traditional Skip-Bo.
Do colors matter in Skip-Bo?
Not really. The colors of Skip-Bo cards are merely ornamental to display a “progression” as Players go from low numbers to high, from blue to green to red.
Is Skip-Bo a game of skill or luck?
Skip-Bo is a game of luck, predominantly, although there is an element of skill involved in the game. For example, holding onto Skip-Bo cards until the right opportunity to play many cards at once, or utilizing a combination of cards from the hand and the personal stock.
Is it hard to learn Skip-Bo?
No. Skip-Bo is an easy game to learn, and fun for all ages. Generally, anybody can pick up it after just watching the game be played once or twice.
Do you always discard a card in Skip-Bo?
Yes, according to the rules of Skip-Bo, a Player must always discard one card from their hand at the end of a turn. The only time Players do not discard is when they have won the game.
What happens when you use all 5 cards?
When playing all 5 cards in your hand, the Player must immediately draw five cards from the communal draw pile, in order to refill their hand. They may then continue to keep playing. If a Player empties their hand of cards a second time, they may not redraw until the next turn.
How long is the average game of Skip-Bo?
A game of Skip-Bo will last about 20-30 minutes. It is possible as mentioned above to play a multi-game match-play. These games can easily take upwards of an hour.