Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Card Games

We used to do a regular feature here where I reviewed games of all types and shared them with you to do with your tweens and teens in the library. That was put on hold for a while because we were – and are still – in a deadly global pandemic. But today I am sharing a few card games with you for the future, because I’m choosing to hope that there is a future where we can get together again and safely play games. But given rising Delta rates and the way it is affecting younger and younger people, that future is not necessarily today. Please take all necessary precautions and consider recent infection rates and CDC guidelines before engaging in any in person, large group programs.

Today I am going to be focusing on card games and they fall into two categories: competitive and cooperative. In competitive card games, each play is playing against one another and the goal is to win. In cooperative card games, the players are playing together to beat the game itself and everyone is either a winner or a loser together.

Competitive Card Games

Five Crowns

Five Crowns is a play on old fashioned Rummy where you are trying to get either matching pairs or runs of the same suite. This game is different in that there are 5 suites. One of the things that I love about this game is that you have 11 set hands, and then the game is over. That’s it, it’s 11 hands.

Here’s how you play it: Each round has more cards. You start with 3, move to 4, then 5, etc. Each turn you drawn and discard a card until someone goes out, which they do by laying down all of their cards in runs and sets and having a discard. Once someone goes out, you have one hand left to do what you can with your cards. You then add up your points and at the end of 11 hands, the player with the lowest number of points wins.

This game can be played with up to 7 players and if you have multiple card sets you could even have some elimination rounds and have the final players battle it out. I highly recommend this game. It’s fun, has a set limit and clear end goal, and I’ve played it with kids of all ages successfully.

Here are the official rules: https://www.ultraboardgames.com/five-crowns/game-rules.php

This Game Goes to Eleven

This game is fun with a capital F! It’s a rapid game where you try to play one of the three cards in in your hand and not go over the number 11. If you go over 11, you have to take all the cards in play. If you end right at 11, you get to give the cards to another player. When you run out of cards, everyone counts their cards and the player with the least amount of cards wins. Your goal here is to get as few as cards possible, which means you have to play strategically.

The fun part about this game is that part of your strategy can be to get other players to gang up on another player so they get all the cards. Or if you see a player with no cards, you might mention that hey, so and so doesn’t have any cards yet and try and get the other players to give their cards to someone else besides you. So this part is fun, but when dealing with tweens and teens, you’ll want to be aware of the fact that this could go horribly wrong depending on the dynamics of the group. It’s fun to play with friends, but may be harder in situations where the group dynamics leave room for more outright bullying as opposed to fun sabotage. That’s just something you’ll want to be aware of.

Here is some more information: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/257411/game-goes-eleven

3 Up 3 Down

This game combines strategy and pure luck. Each player is dealt 9 cards and the first 3 cards are placed on the table face down so you never know what the last 3 cards in your hand are going to be. You then have to try and strategically play the remaining 6 cards in your hand. 3 you place face up on the 3 face down cards, the other 3 you hold in your hand. The goal is to go through the deck of cards and be the first player to get rid of all of your cards.

When it’s your turn, you discard a card but it has to be the same or higher value of the card that has just been played. So if someone plays a 3, you can play a 3 or higher. But if someone plays a 9 or 10, you also have to play a 9 or 10 or higher. If you can’t play a card, you have to pick up all the cards.

If you make it down to your final 3 cards, this is where the fun is because you have no idea which of those final 3 face down cards to play. You have to guess and hope that you guess correctly. That card may be a 3 that you flip over after someone has just played a 4, but it may also be a 5. You have no idea and it’s pretty awesome fun.

This game is both fun and quick play and I highly recommend it.

Complete rules can be found here: https://www.ultraboardgames.com/3up-3down/game-rules.php

Cooperative Card Games

The Game

This game you are playing together and trying to get rid of all of the cards in the deck. You start out with 4 cards on the playing field, 2 number 1s and 2 number 100s. You want to play cards counting down from 100 and counting up from 1 in numerical order to get rid of all of your cards. The challenge comes in trying to play the cards – all of them – when you might not have the next card in your hand. You want to skip as few numbers as possible so that the next player can also play. When no one can play, the game ends and if you still have cards left, you have not defeated the game.

I personally did not love this game, but it is challenging and I like the collaborative play aspect of it, and everyone else seemed to like it. So I guess overall, I recommend it.

5 Minute Marvel

This game is fun because you get to be an Avenger with special powers and you are joining with your others players who are also Avengers with their own special powers to defeat a series of Marvel villains. It’s a rapid play game because you are trying to beat a series of villains and there is a timer. If you defeat them all, you all win. If you don’t, you lose.

I will admit that the set up and game play can seem kind of complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun. Because it’s fairly more complicated, I encourage you to watch this video instead of listen to me try and describe it.

In the end, I highly recommend this game. And if you have kids that aren’t Marvel fans, there is a 5 Minute Dungeon version that would be great fun for your DND fans.

In the end, I would recommend all of these games for group play or circulation, or both. So go get your game on.

Geek is the New Black: Low Tech Gaming in the Library

Karen talked earlier about the benefits of electronic gaming in the library; I’m not going to repeat her points- just go HERE.

However, there is a LOT to be said for low tech gaming as well. While some news outlets seem to think that today’s youth can’t be bothered with these types of games, I call bull. Otherwise, why do I have a line for the games at my library, and a ton of tweens and teens asking me to play games with them?

The low tech games (and to be specific I’m talking board and card games) that we have are all donated in one way or another, and are used CONSTANTLY. They fulfill a host of the 40 developmental assets, not to mention get them involved with each other and off a screen. They involve reading, comprehension, math, vocabulary, memory and strategy, all of which help to build on what we want for our tweens and teens.

Not enough? Then check out this TED talk by Stuart Brown:


National Gaming Day @ Your Library is November 16th
So what to do with board games? Well, you can have an open gaming day (I call them Low Tech Gaming Days) and have two or three games set up on tables around the room, and let participants play whatever they want to play. I usually have a movie playing as well so that those who want to be in the room but who don’t want to play can have something to do.

Or, have a day set aside for a specific game. Set up a Monopoly day, or contact the local Chess Club or the American Go foundation and see if they can come out and teach a class or three on the basics of those games. 

Talk to your local comic shop about when they have their set dates for the Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon tournament plays, and then set up “free play” days for those in your area that are interested on days/times that won’t conflict with your comic shop (you don’t want to draw from their customer base). All you need are clean tables, some six-sided (normal) dice, scratch paper, pencils, and a staff person in the room willing to listen. Make it clear there’s no trading cards or playing for cards- that’s all for fun.

What games work in a library setting? Well, what do you have? Currently, these are my top games of interest:



Apples to Apples




Which ones work for you? Share in the comments.
More on Board Games: