Players: 2 to 4
Time to play: a few minutes to an hour per game
Rummikub is one of my all-time favorite (non-word) games for thinking
and strategy. You don’t have to make it too hard—my seven-year-old
and four-year-old nieces were picking it up fairly quickly—but it’s
a lot of fun, and it potentially challenges a few brain cells.
As the name suggests, this tile game is related to the card game rummy. The
point is to collect tiles that make up straights (same-colored sequences
of numbers of at least three tiles) and sets (multi-colored sets of at least
three of the same number—but no more than all four colors and also no duplicate
The catch is that you can’t lay any of your tiles down until you have
a total of 30 points worth to lay, which can be frustrating if you have low-numbered
tiles (1s, 2s, and 3s), instead of high-numbered tiles (13 is the highest).
Once you're able to lay down your points on the table, though, you have the
run of the table each turn—you can add to or rearrange your or other players'
sets and straights and replace wild cards to reuse them, all so you can add
in new tiles to the mix. In fact, you can rearrange everything on the board
during the course of a turn, as long as everything that was on the board at
the beginning of a turn is still there at the end—and everything still makes
up proper sets and straights by the end. Since the rearranging can get so complex,
this is a good game to set a time limit on.
The ultimate goal for the game is to get rid of the 14 tiles given to you at
the beginning of the game, along with any tiles you picked up during turns in which you
couldn’t lay anything down. The first person to get rid of their tiles