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Official Spite and Malice Card Game Rules

Spite and Malice is a competitive card game for two or more players that involves strategy, quick thinking, and a bit of luck. Also known as "Cat and Mouse," the game is played with one or more standard 52-card decks. Here's how to play:


The objective of Spite and Malice is to be the first player to play all the cards in your payoff pile onto the center stacks.


1. Determine Number of Decks: Use one deck of cards for every two players. For example, use two decks for four players.

2. Shuffle the Decks: Thoroughly shuffle all the decks together.

3. Deal the Payoff Piles: Deal 20 cards to each player to form their payoff pile, placing them face down in front of them. The top card of each payoff pile is turned face up.

4. Create Stock Piles: Deal five additional cards to each player, which they hold in their hands.

5. Create the Draw Pile: Place the remaining cards in a draw pile in the center of the table, face down.


  1. Turn Sequence: Players take turns in a clockwise order.

  2. Playing Cards: On a player's turn, they draw enough cards from the draw pile to have five cards in their hand.

  3. Building Center Stacks: Players can play cards from their hand, their payoff pile, or their discard piles onto the center stacks. Center stacks are built from Ace (1) to Queen (12). Jokers are wild and can represent any card.

  4. Discarding: At the end of their turn, players must discard one card from their hand onto one of their four personal discard piles. Each player can have up to four discard piles.

  5. Using Discard Piles: On subsequent turns, players can play cards from their discard piles onto the center stacks. Discard piles are not in any specific order; players can choose any card from the top of their discard piles to play.

  6. Playing from Payoff Pile: The goal is to play the top card of your payoff pile onto the center stacks whenever possible. Once you play the top card, reveal the next card in your payoff pile.

Center Stack Rules:
  • Start with Ace: Each center stack must start with an Ace.

  • Sequence: Cards must be played in numerical order up to Queen. Kings are not used in building center stacks.

  • Jokers: Jokers can be used as any card needed to continue the sequence.

  • Stack Completion: Once a center stack reaches Queen, it is removed from the board and the cards are set aside. The stack can then be started again with a new Ace.

Winning the Game

  • The game continues until one player has played all the cards from their payoff pile onto the center stacks. This player is declared the winner.


  • Multiple Players: In games with more than two players, the same rules apply, and the draw pile may run out of cards. If this happens, reshuffle the discard piles to form a new draw pile.

  • Strategy: Players must balance playing from their hand, payoff pile, and discard piles to optimize their chances of emptying their payoff pile first.

  • Spite Moves: The name of the game hints at its competitive nature. Players can strategically block others by holding onto certain cards or by setting up discard piles in a way that benefits them later.

Spite and Malice is a fun and challenging card game that tests your strategic planning and adaptability. Perfect for game nights, it offers a mix of competition and excitement as players race to be the first to clear their payoff piles.

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