Spite and Malice is a traditional Solitaire style card game, stemming from the classic game of Crapette.
This game takes influence from influence, injecting competitive elements that make it much more fun. In fact, a commercial variation was eventually released by Hasbro in 2002. The game is also referred to as Cat and Mouse.
How to Play Spite and Malice?
Spite and Malice can be played with two players and above. All you need to play the game are multiple standard 52-card Anglo-American decks with 2 Jokers each. For each player in the game, one deck is required. For example, if 3 players are playing, 3 52-card decks are to be used.
The following examples assume a standard setup of Spite and Malice with 2 players.
Since Spite and Malice is a puzzle-style game like Solitaire, and hence uses card ranks where Aces are the lowest and Kings are the highest. Note that scoring is not used during gameplay, hence, the relevance of card ranks is solely for the puzzling aspect.
Suits are not relevant in this game.
All decks are shuffled together and then cut by each player. A dealer is then selected, either by deck splitting or at random.
The dealer then deals 26 cards to each player. These cards are set aside to form each player’s goal pile. These cards cannot be viewed by their corresponding player.
The top card of each goal pile is turned face up, and placed on top of the pile.
The remaining cards are then placed face-down at the center of the board, forming the stock or the draw pile.
The dealer goes first, and the turn order proceeds in a clockwise order.
Each player begins their turn by drawing cards from the draw pile until their hands consist of 5 cards each. This process will repeat for each turn, with each player drawing the needed number of cards to replenish their hand.
For example, if a player ended their previous turn with 3 cards, they will draw 2 cards to refill their hand to 5 cards.
Note that it is possible for players to play all 5 cards from hand before the turn ends. If this happens, the player will draw 5 cards from the draw pile.
After replenishing their hand, players will make any possible plays to the sequences on the board. Like in Solitaire, players need to create sequences beginning with Aces, and sequentially ascending card-by-card until Kings are played to complete the set.
If Aces are ever drawn or revealed from the goal pile, they are played immediately.
Once a set is completed from Aces to Kings, it is set aside. These cards will not be used in play until the draw pile has been depleted. Once the draw pile is depleted, all completed sets so far are shuffled and returned to form the new draw pile.
Players can make plays using the 5 cards in hand, cards at the top of each discard pile, and the top card of the goal pile. Once the top card of the goal pile is played, the next card is revealed and can be played again if there are valid moves.
Once a player decides to end their turn, they discard one card from their hand. Discards are made to the discard piles. Each player has 4 discard piles each, and players can only play the top card of each discard pile before gaining access to the bottom cards.
Discarding will always end a turn.
Sets are shared among all players, and players can play their cards onto any available set, regardless of who started the set.
In Spite and Malice, Jokers are wild cards and can be played in place of any other card. This includes the Aces used in starting new sets as well.
Players then continue the sets, assuming the Joker substitutes the initial card. For example, if a Player plays a Joker onto a set with a Jack, the Joker substitutes a Queen. Thus, the next card to be played onto the set will need to be a King.
How to Win?
The first player to clear their entire goal pile will win the game. The final card can be won via a play onto a set, or by a discard.
Spite and Malice Rules
In short, the rules for Spite and Malice are:
- Decks are shuffled and cut.
- A dealer is determined.
- Each player is dealt 26 cards each, forming the goal pile. The top card of each player’s goal pile is flipped face-up.
- The remaining cards are placed face-down at the center of the board, forming the draw pile.
- The game begins with the dealer going first, and turn order proceeds in clockwise order.
- At the start of each turn, each player draws until their hands consist of 5 cards each.
- If any Aces are drawn or available from the top of the goal piles, they are placed at the center of the board, forming the sets.
- Players build sets sequentially in ascending card ranks. When sets reach the final card, the King, they are set aside.
- Each player attempts to clear their goal piles of all 26 cards.
Scoring & Points
Scoring in Spite and Malice is based on the completion of the goal and the number of remaining cards.
A player who manages to clear their goal pile will be awarded 5 points.
When a player wins the round, they are also awarded points based on the number of remaining cards in their opponent’s goal piles.
For example, in a 2-player game, if Player 1 wins the round, and Player 2 has 6 cards left in their draw pile, Player 1 is awarded 5+6=11 points in total.
The following is an example play in Spite and Malice with 2 players.
- Player A: K♦ 5♦ 3♣ 2♤ Q♦
- Goal Pile: 2♦
- Player B: J♦ 6♤ 5♣ 3♥ A♥
- Goal Pile: 4♦
At this stage, Player B begins by playing the A♥, beginning a new set. There are no more available plays, and Player B discards his J♦.
Player A has a 2♦ atop his/her goal pile and plays that card. The next revealed card is an A♦, and Player A creates a new set. Using the 3♣, 2♤ from hand, he/she adds to the sets.
Player A no longer has plays and discards a card to end their turn.
Player B draws a new card and the game proceeds as usual.
- In Spite and Malice strategy, the main thing to consider is blocking, where you opt to not play a card from hand to prevent a player from playing their own cards.
- This is a casual game, and thus, players can distract opponents by talking unless house rules state otherwise.
- If you have the same card rank from your goal pile and hand, always play cards from the goal pile first.
- Remember that the hand doesn’t matter in the long run, only the goal pile matters.
- Jokers are valuable and do not have to be played instantly after being revealed.
- If your opponent has only a few cards left in their goal pile, don’t hesitate to keep cards until you can make a chain of plays.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to play online for free?
If you’re interested in playing Spite and Malice for free online, consider trying our simulator on CoolOldGames. Here you can play against multiple computer opponents. SolitaireParadise also offers a fun version of the game.
How many cards are dealt at the start of each game?
At the start of each game, each player is dealt 26 cards to their goal piles, and 5 cards to hand.
What are other names for the game?
Other names for Spite and Malice are Cat and Mouse, the Misery card game, and Spike and Malice. There also exists a proprietary variation of the game called Skip-Bo, which is distributed by Mattel.
What is the origin of Spite and Malice?
Spite and Malice takes influence from the 19th century Crapette game, which originated from Brazil and Portugal.
Are there alternate rules in Spite and Malice?
If a faster-paced game is desired, the goal pile size can be reduced to 13 cards instead, resulting in quicker games.