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How to Play "Village Idiot" Card Game Rules

Updated on March 4, 2013

How do you play Village Idiot?

The card game Village Idiot is very simple, but the set-up can confuse some people. There are a lot of special cards in Village idiot, so we'll go over how they work at the end. The max number of players for Village Idiot is 4 per deck. You can use more than 1 deck if you have more than 4 players. This game is especially fun because it's a bit backwards - the focus isn't on who wins, but who loses. Whoever is the last person to still hold cards becomes the "Idiot," for which the game is named.

Setting Up

There are three types of cards in a Village Idiot game. Face down, face up, and your hand.

Dealing a hand:

  1. each player gets 4 cards placed in front of them face-down. They do NOT look at these cards.
  2. each player gets 4 cards placed in front of them face-up. Everyone can see these cards.
  3. each player gets a 5 card hand that only they can see.

As you can see, this limits the game to 4 people, as (4+4+5)x4people=52.

Switching Cards

The players may now switch out cards in their hands for the face-up cards in front of them.

Things to Consider:

Having good numbers on your face-up 4 is a must, as you will see later. If you have poor numbers, someone can easily screw you later. It is much easier to get rid of poor numbers in your hand than your face-ups.

However, switching out face-ups reveals more and more of your hand. Depending on the level of the players they may be able to use knowledge of your hand to their own advantage.

Also, having just 1 poor card in the face-ups usually doesn't spell a death sentence. Playing Village Idiot is all about strategy, and making people think your hand is bad can be a good move. It can also keep your hand concealed.

If you're playing with 3 or fewer per deck.

Playing with the full 4 per deck means that there are no cards left over after dealing, so the step of finishing the deck can be skipped.

However, if you're not playing with 4, 8, or 12 players, you need to do this extra step.

Finishing the Deck

The players simply start the game as usual, but the remainder of the deck is placed in the center. Until the deck is finished, every time a player puts down a card, they must pick one up unless they have more than 5 cards already in-hand.

Playing a Round of Village Idiot

To play one round, there are three stages (plus finishing the deck if you are playing with less than 4 per).

Stage 1: Playing your hand.

Stage 2: Playing your face-ups.

Stage 3: Playing your face-downs.

The basic rule of play is that you must play a higher card than the person before you. If you cannot do this, you must pick up all the played cards. The last person with cards becomes the Village Idiot, so you do not want to be picking up cards!

You must first play your entire hand. Then you can play your face-up cards. Finally you blindly play the face-down cards with no idea what they are.

  • If you play your hand, get to the face-up or down cards, and then receive more cards (due to having to pick up) those new cards go into your hand and must be played before continuing whatever stage you were on.

If you manage to successfully play all cards and have none remaining, you are safe for this round!

Point of Order

If you have to pick up, you first play and THEN pick up. This is important because it means that, if you are on face-ups and "cannot play" you still get to play one face-up card. It then comes into your hand with the rest of the picked up cards. It is easier to play from your hand than to play face-ups so remember this rule or you will be the Idiot!

Village Idiot Special Cards

There are four "magic cards" in the Village Idiot card game. There is also 1 high card and 1 special rule. You would do well to remember them, as they are essential to play.

The High Card: Ace

The Special Rule: If someone puts down 4 of a kind (when playing with 1 deck, 8 of a kind when playing with 2 decks, etc) the entire center stack is taken out of play.

The magic cards:

  • 2 : brings the deck back down to 2 aka the lowest number. You can play it over any card.

  • 7 : invisible card. Can be played on anything, and doesn't change the state of the center stack. EX- a king is played, then a seven... the next person must play higher than a king. It is like the 7 doesn't exist.

  • 10 : can be played on anything. After playing a 10 the entire center stack is taken out of play.

  • 9 : many people call 9 half-magic because it can only be played when a 9 is usually played (after #'s 2-8), however the next person must play lower than a 9.

EX- 8 is played, 9 is played, 8 is played again, 10 is played. A king or ace cannot be played directly after a 9, but a 7 or 10 can be. After 1 card is put down, the game returns to normal and the next person must play higher again.

That's it!

I hope you've learned how to play Village Idiot. I love the Village Idiot card game and hope I did justice to the explanation of it. If any rules were unclear, feel free to comment below and I will fix it! No registration necessary.


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    • Jeremy Gill profile image

      Jeremy Gill 2 days ago from Louisiana

      I've played a very similar variant called Karma, where there are only three faceups and facedowns per player. This lets up to five players per deck play, and helps speed games along.

      To answer the question, yes, you can pick up the discard pile whenever (at least in Karma).

    • profile image

      Can you pick up the discard pile even if you have a playable card? 5 months ago

      Can you pick up the discard pile even if you don't have to?