The Egyptian Rat Screw or ERS is a fun, simple, and exciting card-based party game. You can play it with your friends with a minimum of three players, and each game would last for 10 minutes. One cool thing about this game is you only need to use a standard 52-card deck – including Jokers.
The main goal of this game is to win all of the cards. Until other players don’t have any left to continue, it is a game that uses a combination of logic, quick thinking, and physical agility – mainly using your hands.
The exact origin of the game Egyptian Rat Screw is unknown. However, there are claims that the game existed as early as the mid-1970s. Its gameplay is a product of combining two popular games back in the days. The game Beggar-My-Neighbor is the influence of the gameplay, a famous game in Britain in the early 1910s, while Slapjack influenced of the slapping of cards.
The gameplay of ERS is pretty simple. Using a standard 52-card deck, deal with all of the cards face down and evenly to all of the players. The dealer must distribute the cards one at a time to each player
Once done with the card distribution, the players should not look at their cards, and should neatly pile the cards in front of them.
After the cards are all set, the actual game begins.
The first player, the person on the left of the dealer, will pull the first card from their pile and place it face-up in the middle. If a number card was set, the next player will continue and pick the first card on their pile – and place it in the middle. The same process will repeat until a non-number card or a face card – Ace, Jack, Queen, and King – appears in the middle.
If a non-number card is presented in the middle, the next player should now place another non-number or face card in the middle. If the player failed to do so, the round ends. And the last player to put the non-number card wins, getting all the cards in the middle.
However, there is a twist in the game. In the case that the next player was not able to play a non-number card, there would be an exemption for the game to continue. There is what we call the slap rule, which makes the game a lot more interesting.
Different rules are used to determine that a slap is applicable. In the case that a slap rule is appropriate, the first player to slap the pile of cards will be considered the winner of the round. If a lot of players slapped the pile and becomes challenging to determine the winner, the result would base on the person with the most fingers on the top of the pile.
The slap rule also comes with a penalty to those who would slap the pile while the rule is not applicable. In this case, the player to hit the pile will receive a penalty and will be required to place two cards from their deck to the middle pile.
Just repeat the process in every round, and the player who has all the cards wins the game.
- Double – two cards of the same value are placed down consecutively. Similar to a pair, more common to some card games. Ex: 2 hearts & 2 diamonds
- Sandwich – two cards of the same value are sandwiching one different value card. Ex: 2 hearts, 4 diamonds, 2 hearts
- Top Bottom – If the last card played is the same as the first card placed in the pile.
- Tens – the value of the cards played will add up to 10. Ex: 4 hearts, 6 diamonds
- Jokers – Whenever a Joker is placed in the middle pile, the slap rule will take effect.
- Four in a row – when four cards are placed in an ascending or descending order. It is similar to straight, in most card games. Ex: 4 hearts, 5 diamonds, 6 spades, 7 hearts or J hearts, Q diamonds, K spade, Ace hearts
- Marriage – When a King and Queen are placed consecutively in any order. Ex: King hearts & Queen diamonds or Queen spade & King diamonds
Popular Editions and Variants
The standard version of the game is playable using a standard 52-card deck. All of the game rules and mechanics are applicable utilizing this type of deck.
University Games specially make this game version as an upgrade of the classic card game. It offers almost the same game mechanics. This version has a few add-ons, and it is customized to have the Egyptian vibe while playing. There is another twist on this game; the players will roll a dice, indicating which body part they will use for slapping.