A to Z Gaming: Pairs

Pairs cards

We tried to avoid pairs of fruit in Pairs, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Pairs
Players: 2-8
Time: 15 Minutes
Designers: James Ernest, Paul Peterson, Heinrich Glumpler
Artists: James Ernest
Publisher: Cheapass Games

Pairs is a simple and quick push-your-luck card game where players try to avoid pairs while keeping their score under 31. Whoever gets 31 points first, loses.

Pairs is played in rounds. In each round, the deck of cards is shuffled and one dealt out face-up to each player. On their turn, a player can either take a card or forfeit. If they take a card and it matches another already in their stack for the round, the round ends and that player puts one of those matching cards into their score pile. If they decide to forfeit, the round also ends and they take the lowest score in front of them and add it to their score pile. Otherwise, play continues to the next player.

As soon as a player has 31 points in their score pile, they lose. That’s it.

We picked this up many years ago as a quick filler for our game nights. It got to the table several times in our early game nights. However, as we’ve moved more toward heavier and longer games, it hasn’t hit the table in a long time. I’ve never been a big fan of this one, but it is super-quick and good for a when you want to chitchat.

How is it as a 2-player game? Pairs isn’t great as a 2-player game. It really sings with more players as everyone is holding their breath as the play moves around the table.

How about the art and component quality? There are many different decks for Pairs — we have the “standard” fruit deck, which is fine. And the card quality is okay.

Will this stay in my collection? It’s such a small card game, this will likely stay. Though, I’m not sure how often it will hit the table.

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