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Pairs Deluxe Edition

One deck of cards, over thirty games to play! Pairs: Deluxe Edition features a deck of cards developed by Cheapass Games, and includes a booklet full of games and variants you can play with it.

Gameplay

Pairs is played with a deck of cards with no suits. Instead, the cards are numbered one through ten, and the card's value determines how many copies of it are in the deck. So, for example, there is only one card numbered one, while there are ten cards with the number ten. The Deluxe Edition contains rules and variants for over thirty games you can play with this single deck of cards.

The basic game is known as Pairs and is a push-your-luck game. You start by shuffling the deck. Each time the deck is shuffled you discard five cards from the deck face-down. At the start of each hand, one card is dealt to each player. The player with the lowest card goes first. On your turn, you choose to either draw a card and add it to your stack, or to fold. If a player folds or if a player ever has two cards of equal value in his stack, the round ends.

If you fold, you take the lowest card currently in a player’s stack and add it to your score pile. If you made a pair, then you take one of the matching cards and add it to your score pile. Your current score is always the value of all the cards in your score pile. Once you hit a certain score, you lose the game. Pairs has only one loser.

After a round ends, all players discard the cards in their stacks face-down, and everyone is dealt a new starting card.

Variants include Continuous Pairs, in which case only the player who made a pair or folded discards his stack, or Calamaties where being dealt a seven forces you to go again.

Pairs: Deluxe Edition Components

Review

Pairs is a versatile little deck. It’s small but there are so many games packed into it, and with a wide range of rules. Several of them come with variants, and many of them have a wide player count. This makes it a very versatile game to pack when traveling or when you don’t know how many people will be playing.

Even the base game, while simple, is quite enjoyable. Do you want to fold while you can still claim a relatively low card to score? Or risk your luck even if you’ve got an eight in your stack and have a high chance of drawing another one?

Cheapass Games has released a range of Pairs decks, each one featuring unique art and different games that can be played with them. The appeal of the Deluxe Edition is the booklet that brings so many of these different rule sets together in one place and in one box. However, it would be nice if there was a little more included given that this is a Deluxe Edition. Most notably a number of the games require chips in order to play, and it would have been nice if the box came with a set of chips or tokens, particularly as there already is extra room in the box to make space for the rules booklet.

Pairs is an extremely clever deck of cards. The games tend to be quite accessible and easy to teach but include a wide range of mechanics and strategy levels. There is something extremely appealing about having multiple games packed into a single deck. If you don’t like one, you’re bound to find one that does suit you.

Pros: Range of games and player counts

Cons: Chips are often needed for play but are not included

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.