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How To Play Rummikub: Rummikub Game Rules

Overview

Rummikub is a fun game enjoyed all over the world by millions of players. The game is easy to play and can be played by 2 to 4 people at a time. The game is played with tiles and not cards. Players try to get rid of their tiles and the first player to do so wins the game.

Objective

Be the first to get rid of your tiles to win the game. If multiple rounds are to be played, players earn points at the end of each round. The player with the most points after an agreed number of rounds have been played wins the game.

Rummikub Game Rules

Tiles are played in sets known as “group” and “run”.

A player’s initial meld (first set of tiles played) must add up to at least 30 points.

Play tiles in sets on your turn or add tiles to existing sets. If unable to do either, draw a tile from the draw pile.

Two minutes are allowed per turn. A player who is unable to complete a turn in 2 minutes must return tiles to their original position and draw a tile from the draw pile.

Joker can replace any tile in the game. In this case, the Joker assumes the number on the tile it replaced.

When scoring tiles at the end of a game, an un-played Joker is worth 30 points.

Number of Players Needed

2 to 4 players.

Equipment

106 Tiles, 2 of which are Jokers

4 Tile racks

Paper and Pen for keeping track of scores if multiple rounds are played.

Setting Up

Each player picks a tile rack, there are four of them so a maximum of four players can be involved in a game of Rummikub. Flip the tiles such that they are face-down and then mix them up. There are 106 of them in four different colours, two Jokers included. The colours are orange, blue, red, and black.

Every tile apart from the two Joker tiles is numbered and the numbers range from 1-13. There two sets of tiles for each colour (1-13 x 2) which means every colour has two tiles per number. There are two yellow 6 tiles, two blue 13 tiles, two red 9 tiles, two orange 11 tiles etc.

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After mixing the tiles, have each player draw one tile to determine who takes their turn first. The player who picks the tile with the highest number gets to go first. If there is a tie, the players who tied will each draw a tile again so the tie can be broken.

Once that is settled, flip and mix all the tiles again. Stack up the tiles in groups on the playing surface face-down. You don’t want the stacks to be too high so the tiles don’t fall over. You can have as many stacks as you want depending on how tall or how short you want them.

Each player picks 14 tiles randomly from the stacks, one tile at a time and places them in their tile rack. The tiles left in the stacks form the draw pile from which players can draw tiles during the game.

How to Play Rummikub

Tiles are played in sets of at least 3 tiles. A set of tiles of the same number but different colours is called a “group”. For example, you can have a set of red 6, orange 6, black 6, and blue 6 to form a group. Another set that can be played is the “run” or “row”.  A run is a set of tiles of the same colour having consecutive numbers e.g. a set of yellow 4, 5, 6 is a run, a set of red 7, 8, 9, 10 is another example of a run.

Starting with the first player, players take turns to play tiles or draw a tile from any of the stacks if they are unable to play. To play tiles, a player can either lay down a run or a group from their rack or play off the other tiles played previously. Now note this, the first set of tiles a player plays is known as the initial meld. This meld must be worth at least 30 points before it can be played.

The initial meld can be made up of a single or multiple sets. So a player may have groups, runs, or both in their initial meld. Points are calculated based on the number on the tiles, colour has no impact. A blue 7 tile is worth 7 points, a black 9 tile is worth 9 points and so on. A joker can replace any tile and is worth the same number of points as the tile it is replacing. If a player cannot play tile sets worth at least 30 points for their initial meld, they must keep drawing a tile from the draw pile on each turn until they can do so.

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Once a player has placed their initial meld, they are now free to play tiles from their rack or play off previously played sets. Playing off previously played sets is simply adding to and rearranging existing tile sets. Remember you can only play tiles in sets so if you cannot play a new set from your tile rack, you can add tiles from your rack to sets you played previously.

If a player cannot play tiles either as a result of having not played their initial meld or not being able to add to and rearrange existing sets, they must draw a tile from the draw pile. On a turn, a player can either play a new set/sets from their rack or add at least one tile from their rack to an existing set. If they can’t do either, then they must draw a tile from the draw pile. A player can add as many tiles from their rack to as many existing sets as they want. They can also readjust existing sets to accommodate more tiles from their rack by splitting or subtracting tiles from these sets. The player must, however, keep to the basic rules of forming tile sets as explained in the opening part of this section.

Note that a player cannot play a turn by simply rearranging existing sets without adding at least a tile from their rack. Sets having a Joker tile constitute a special case. Players can always add tiles to a set with a Joker but cannot remove tiles from such set while the Joker is still there. This means the player must first replace the Joker with the appropriate tile and then use the Joker to form a new set before removing tiles from the set that previously had the Joker tile.

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Note that rules for removing tiles from sets with Joker vary. In some versions of the game tiles can be removed from such set normally without first removing the Joker, while in some other versions, a player must have at least two tiles in their rack to form a new set with the Joker before the Joker tile can be removed.

To make the game faster, players get 2 minutes per turn to complete their play. If a player exceeds this time limit, they must return the tiles to their original position and draw a tile from the draw pile.

Winning the Game

The game continues until one player runs out of tiles. That player is the winner of that round. Scores are awarded to all the players in this manner. All the players will get a negative score except the winning player. Only the winning player gets a positive score. So, calculate each player’s score by adding up all the tiles left on their rack. A Joker tile will count as 30 points in this case but all the other tiles add a score equal to the number written on them. Whatever sum is gotten for each player is recorded as a negative score. Remember that the winning player has no tile left, that player is awarded a score equal to the sum of all the other player’s scores but without the negative sign. Only the winning player gets a positive score. Apart from playing to win the game by getting rid of their tiles, players must also try to keep only low number tiles on their rack as these count against them at the end of the game. The game may be played in multiple rounds and the player with the highest score after an agreed number of rounds have been played is the overall winner.

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