How to Play Card Hockey
Copyright 2003 by Catherine C. McGeoch
Card Hockey is a fast-moving card game for two players. It is
like War, except it is played in three zones. The object is
to move the puck from zone to zone and try to score goals
when the puck is in your offensive zone. The player with the most
goals after three periods is the winner!
What you need to play:
- An opponent.
- A standard deck of playing cards. Divide the deck into two piles,
one containing all red cards (Redwings) and one containing all
black cards (Blackhawks). Each player takes one pile, shuffles it, and
hands it to the other player. Put your pile of cards in front of
you face down.
- A coin or button to serve as the puck.
The game layout:
The game layout is shown in the diagram. Each player has
space for three piles of cards, called the Defensive,
Neutral, and Offensive zones.
The goal areas are at the ends of the playing zones.
The puck can be in any one of the three puck areas shown. You want
to move the puck to the right, towards your goal, while
your opponent wants to move the puck towards his goal.
| ||His O ||His N
||His D ||
|His goal ||(puck) ||(puck) ||(puck)
| ||Your D ||Your N
||Your O ||
How to play:
Neutral zone face off. Start by putting the puck in the center
between the neutral zones. Grab the top card from your deck, and
begin play ...
Playing a turn.
Both at the same time, slap down your cards in the zones where the puck is.
Compare the cards and follow the rules below. Aces are highest, deuces
- If the two cards have the same rank (matching numbers), the puck
doesn't move -- just play another turn.
- If you have the higher card and the puck is in your Defensive or
Neutral zone, move the puck to the next zone to the right, closer to
your goal. (If your opponent has the higher card, he moves the puck
closer to his goal.)
You are playing Redwings. The puck is in the neutral zone. You turn up
a higher card and move the puck to your offensive zone.
- If the puck is in your offensive zone and you turn up the higher card,
but it is a ten or lower, do not move the puck. Just stay in your offensive
zone and play another turn. (If you have the lower card, your opponent will
of course move the puck back to the neutral zone. If the cards match, the puck
The puck is in your offensive zone. You turn up a higher card, but it
is only a ten. Stay in the zone.
- Scoring goals. If the puck is in your offensive zone and
you turn up an honor card (Jack, Queen, King, or Ace) and your
card is higher, then you score a goal! Put the winning card in
your goal area to serve as a counter, and start again with a face off in
the neutral zone.
If you turn up an honor card in your offensive zone, but it is not higher
than your opponent's card, too bad -- your opponent has blocked your shot.
(He can move the card to the neutral zone if his card is higher than yours.
If they match, the puck doesn't move.)
The puck is in your offensive zone. You turn up an honor card that is
higher than the other card: Goal! Put the
card in your goal area as a counter, and move the puck to the
neutral zone for the next face off.
- Minor Penalties. At any point in the game, if you turn
up a deuce, you get a minor penalty. You have to
play with this same card for the next two turns (three
turns counting the current one), moving it from zone to zone
instead of taking the top card from your deck. This is
called playing short-handed because you are forced to play
three turns with a low card. (It is possible to have overlapping penalties,
in which case the puck doesn't move while you count out the shorthanded
The penalties are:
- Two of spades = Holding the stick
- Two of hearts = High stick
- Two of clubs = Tripping
- Two of diamonds = Too many men on the ice
The puck is in the neutral zone. You turn up a Too many men on the ice
penalty. The puck moves to your defensive zone (because your opponent has
the higher card) and you must play the deuce for two more turns.
First shorthanded turn, the puck doesn't move because your opponent's
five is not enough to score a goal. Second shorthanded turn,
your opponent scores. Too bad. He should put his King
in his goal area and move the puck to the neutral zone for a face off.
You can now continue taking cards from your pile.
First Shorthanded Turn
Second Shortanded Turn
End of the period. The period is over when you run out of
cards. Collect all your cards except the scoring cards you have
in the goal area, and hand them over to your opponent to shuffle. You must
play the next period without those goal cards in your deck!
If the period ends while one or both of you is playing shorthanded,
the penalty must continue into the next period. The shortanded player
should hold on to the deuce and play it again the first and (maybe) second
turns of the next period, depending on how many turns are left on the
You can switch goal ends between periods if you like, or keep using
the same ones.
Each period starts with a face off in the neutral zone. In the second and
third periods, one player may have more cards than the other -- the
period ends whenever one of you runs out of cards.
Play card hockey for three periods, then add up your goals. The player with
the most goals wins!
Overtime shootout. If the game ends in a tie, you can have
a sudden death shootout. Each player shuffles all the
opponent's cards (including goal cards) and hands them over face down.
Now turn up the cards one by one, both at the same time. The first player
to turn up an honor card (Jack, Queen, King, or Ace) wins in overtime.
(If you both turn up matching honor cards, keep going.)