Leopard is an unusual and challenging card game of changing spots. Try to line up the "spots", or suits, in this advanced tic-tac-toe variation. Here's how to play:
Number of players: Two
Object: To score cards in lines of three of the same color.
The cards: Use two 52-card decks (104 total cards).
To play: Deal eight cards to each player. Place the rest of the cards in a draw pile, with room for a discard pile next to it.
Leave enough play area between players for each to lay out a three-by-three grid like the one in the diagram below.
Starting with nondealer, take one card from the draw pile, and then play one card onto either your grid, your opponent's grid, or the discard pile.
- Playing an A through 9 in appropriate spot on either player's grid only if that spot is empty.
- Playing a 10 on any empty space in your own grid.
- Playing a jack face down on any card in either your grid or opponent's. (Note: A face-down card on a spot makes it empty again.)
- Playing a queen face down on any card in your grid only.
- Playing a king face up on any card or in any empty space, only in your own grid.
- Discarding onto the discard pile. Discards may not be picked up by either player. If discarding a queen or jack, you must place it in the discard pile face up.
Going out: You may go out or you may stop play when your square has a value of 5 or more. You may go out only when it is your turn to play or discard a card. You may not go out after you play or discard; you must wait until it is your turn to play again.
If no one goes out and you exhaust the stock, play on with the cards you have left. If all cards are played and still no one has gone out, players score whatever value their squares have.
Scoring: A grid line with three cards of all the same suit scores 2 points. A line with cards of all the same color, but mixed suits, scores 1 point. Verticals, horizontals, and diagonals all count, so there are eight lines in all. Your grid can score both red-suited lines and black-suited lines, but the more cards of one color you have in your grid, the higher your score is likely to be. If no one goes out, for every point over 5 that your square is worth, score one additional point. The penalty for going out is 1 point; subtract it from the value of the grid.
Record each player's score. Players alternate deal, and a game consists of four deals.
Tips: Because you can play jacks anywhere to interfere with your opponent's plans, they are very valuable cards. If possible, save them for important occasions. For example, they are the only cards you can play on an opponent's king. When playing a jack onto opponent's grid, pick a spot where there may be a weakness.
Variation: Running Leopard is played by drawing two cards at a time instead of one. You must still at least discard one card, but if you play on the grids, you may play as many cards as you like as long as each is legal. Score as in regular Leopard.
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