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How To Play Noddy

Updated on October 22, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

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Crib without a Crib

Noddy is sometimes referred to as Cribbage without a Crib, since game play is so similar with one primary difference being there is no crib. Noddy is played until one player reaches 31 points, the player who reaches 31 points wins.

Medieval Card Game is The Grandfather of Modern Cribbage

Noddy is a medieval card game which bares striking resemblance to the modern game of Cribbage. It's a much faster paced game when compared to Crib, but I guarantee anyone that loves to play Cribbage will love Noddy.

References to Noddy reach back all the way to the 16th century, and the name of the game is derived from a term for a simpleton or fool "Noddy". In early decks of cards there was no Jack, the Jack was called the Knave, which is a term for fool as well.

Unlike many medieval games there is no need to "redact" the rules from historical documents to find the closest thing to plausible rules. There are several extant sources of the actual rules of the game.

Dealing the Cards

The game is generally played with two players, although three or four could play, in the case of four partners could be played. Each player is dealt three cards, after dealing the top card in the remainder of the deck is turned up, this is the "Noddy Card", if said card is a Jack then it is said to be the "Knave Noddy". Aces in Noddy are always counted as 1 never 11 and order is always A234...JQK ace never follows a King. All face cards (ace not included) are worth 10 points.

Scoring Points

Knave Noddy 1pt if in the hand 2pts to the player who did not deal if it is turned up

15, 25, or 31 1pt per card that made up the fifteen, ie if a 3 a 2 and a 10 are used to make fifteen then the total points is 3

Pairs 2pts

Pair royal aka three of a kind 6pts

Double pair royal aka four of a kind 12pts

Runs (Sequences of more than two) up to five 2pts if a run of three, any runs greater than three is 1pt per card

Flushes Three or more cards of the same suit 1pt per constituent card.

Announcing Points

Before the hand is played the player who did not deal announces, but does not show, the points in his hand. After this announcement the dealer announces his points. Each player pegs their score.

Historic Reproduction Cards - To Give The Feeling Of Playing As It Would Have Been

Playing The Hand You Were Dealt

The player who did not deal starts and plays any card in their hand and announces its value, then turns alternate. Any time a player creates a scoring combination from the cards played thus far they can peg the points. The running total for played cards cannot be greater than 31, if any player cannot play a card without going over this number they must pass. Any cards left unplayed at the end are irrelevant, there is no second round.

Badge of the Avacal Games Guild
Badge of the Avacal Games Guild | Source

The Avacal Games Guild is a group of people in the SCA Kingdom of Avacal who are interested in Medieval games

© 2013 Jeff Johnston

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    • CuAllaidh profile image
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      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @JoshK47: Me too, in the SCA (a medieval reenacting group) I do a lot of research into sports and games :D.

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      JoshK47 4 years ago

      Looks like an interesting game - I love trying out historical games!