Pre-pear for a great time – A Pairs Kickstarter Preview

Pairs is a Cheapass Game currently up on Kickstarter. Note that the company behind it is actually Cheapass, but the games they create are some of the best simple and quick games I’ve ever seen.

Pairs is a card based push your luck game. In the game, the goal is not to win, but simply to not lose. The game plays from two to eight players and takes minutes to play. The deck is made up of fifty-five cards. There is one 1, two 2’s, three 3’s, and so on to ten 10’s. During each round, all players are dealt one card each. The player with the lowest card goes first, and each player turn is made up of one simple decision: Do you take a card or do you fold? If a player takes a card and it matches a value they already have, they get that many points. If it doesn’t match, play passes to the next player. If a player folds, they take the lowest active card on the table. The goal is to not take points. The loser is the first to a target score. James Ernest from Cheapass Games sat down and played with a variety of produce to help explain the game very quickly.


As you can see, the game is very simple to teach and is quick to play. I played six games of it today while waiting for the next round of a tournament to start. The quickness of it makes it a great filler game that is still fulfilling.

That’s not to say that the game is perfect. If a player gets to 1 point away from losing, they have to take cards and hope that someone else reaches the losing score. However, in the six games that I played today, that didn’t occur. At worst, a round only takes a few minutes and a full game takes only a few rounds, with most of my games today taking around ten minutes, including time spent teaching the game.

Shane Tyree is doing a Name of the Wind deck for the Kickstarter, and there are several other themed decks planned. I personally am really hoping for the Echo Chernik deck, as I’m a huge fan of her work, but I know that I’ll be pledging to get at least one of each deck. Shane does amazing work and the other themes look really cool. The rule variants are also a nice distinction between the different themes.

I was fortunate enough to join James from Cheapass Games and Shane on Youtube last night to discuss the game and what they have planned for it. I’m very excited to see the variants that get created for the game, both by James and by the community. Unfortunately, Shane’s keyboard must be broken as he forgot the hyphen in Geek-Craft!


As I say in the video, I really think Pairs will make a great game to give out to gamers and non-gamers alike. After getting to play it today, I will be keeping the print and play deck in my bag for when there’s a few minutes and I feel like playing a game with the folks around me. I can see keeping it for when I’m out to dinner, when I’m waiting in a line at a convention, or whenever else there are a few minutes to play a quick push your luck game.

You can check out the rules and make your own at home by checking out this site. You can also make the deck using three regular card decks or by stealing cards from other games, such as Skip-Bo or Flinch.

I’d suggest you visit the Kickstarter page, maybe make your own deck, and consider pledging, I think Pairs is a great quick game that is very fun.

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