Phase 10 is a card game created in 1982 by Kenneth Johnson and currently produced by Fundex Games. Phase 10 is based on a variant of rummy known as Liverpool Rummy. It requires a special deck or simply 2 regular decks of cards, and can be played by two to six people. The game is named after the ten Phases (or melds) that a player must advance through in order to win.
Phase 10 is Fundex's best selling product, selling 32,658,846 units to date, making it the 2nd best-selling card game behind Mattel's Uno.
The object of the game is to be the first player to complete all 10 Phases. In the case of two players completing the last Phase in the same hand, the player with the lowest score out of the tied players is the winner. If those scores also happen to be tied, a tiebreaker round is played where everyone attempts to complete the same Phase as the last hand.
For each hand, each player's object is to complete and lay down the current Phase, and then rid their hand of remaining cards by discarding them on laid-down Phases, called "hitting". The player who does this first wins the hand and scores no penalty; all other players earn penalty points according to the value of cards remaining in their hand.
There are 108 cards in a deck:
- 96 numbered cards: 2 of each value from 1-12, in each of four colors (red, green. blue, yellow). There are thus 24 cards of each color and 8 of each value.
- 2 Wild cards in each of the same colors (8 total)
- 4 blue Skip cards.
With two regular decks of cards, the suits can represent the 4 different colors. One way to play is with the cards 2 through Kings being the basic cards, the Ace cards are wilds, and the Jokers are "skip" cards. A similar method, closer to the values on the proprietary deck, is to play Aces-low and use Kings as wilds, with Jokers as skips.
- Wild Cards: A "Wild" card may be used in place of a number card, and can be used as any color to complete phase 8.
- More than one "Wild" card may be used in completing a Phase. Players can use as many "Wild" cards as the want as long as they use one (1) natural card.
- Once a "Wild" card has been played in a Phase, it cannot be replaced by the intended card and used elsewhere. It must remain as that card until the hand is over.
- If the dealer starts the discard pile with a "Wild" card, the card may be picked up by the first player.
- A "Wild" card may not be used as a "Skip" card.
- Skip Cards: Skip cards have only one purpose: to cause another player to lose a turn. To use, a player discards the "Skip" card on their turn and chooses the player who will lose a turn.
- When a "Skip" card is drawn it may be discarded immediately or saved for a later turn.
- A "Skip" card may never be picked up from the discard pile.
- A "Skip" card cannot be used to complete any phase, including Phase 8 (though it is colored blue).
- When someone is skipped, a "round" is once around the table.
- Any player can be skipped, not just the person who would normally play next.
- A player cannot be skipped twice in a row; they must be able to have a turn in between being skipped.
- A skip cannot be the last card discarded by a player to win a hand (because the card cannot be simply discarded). If a player empties their hand by playing a skip, the player must draw a replacement before ending their turn.
A phase is a combination of cards. Phases are usually made of sets, runs, or a combination of the two (there is one exception). As the name suggests, there are ten phases:
- 2 sets of 3
- 1 set of 3 + 1 run of 4
- 1 set of 4 + 1 run of 4
- 1 run of 7
- 1 run of 8
- 1 run of 9
- 2 sets of 4
- 7 cards of one color
- 1 set of 5 + 1 set of 2
- 1 set of 5 + 1 set of 3
Each player can make only one phase per hand. For instance, a run of 9 when the player is on Phase 4 cannot also count as Phase 5 and/or 6. The phases must also be completed in order.
- Set: A set is made of three or more cards with the same number.
- Run: A run (similar to a straight) is made of four or more cards numbered in order. The cards can be any color. A run may not go in order of 11, 12, 1, 2; this is an illegal play. Runs must stop at 12 and only start at 1.
- All One Color: Phase 8 requires the player to amass 7 cards that are all the same color (or suit, if using ordinary playing cards).
A Wild ("W") can be used as any value or color (regardless of its printed color) that the player requires to complete any of these. The value of the card is usually implied by its use in a Phase (which is why at least one "natural" card is required). If discarded (rare, but not unheard of), the card remains wild.
One player is chosen to be dealer (alternately, the deal can rotate to the left after each hand). The dealer shuffles the deck and deals 10 cards, face down, one at a time, to each player. Players hold their 10 cards in hand so that the other players cannot see them. The remaining deck is placed face-down in the center of the play area to become the draw pile. The dealer then turns the top card of the draw pile over and places it next to the draw pile, to become the discard pile. The person to the left of the dealer begins play, and can take either this upturned card or the top card of the draw pile. The player then chooses a card that will not help make the Phase, or a Skip, and discards it. Players then take similar turns in clockwise fashion, drawing and discarding to attempt to acquire the cards required by their current Phase.
During the first hand, all players try to complete Phase 1.
If, during a player's turn, they are able to make their current Phase with the cards in their hand, they lay the Phase down, face-up on the table before discarding.
- Phases must be made in order, from 1 to 10.
- A player must have the whole Phase in hand before laying it down.
- A player may lay down more than the minimum requirements of a Phase, but only if the additional cards can be directly added to the cards already in the Phase. For instance, if a Phase requires a set of 3 but the player has four of that card, the player may lay down all four cards when completing the Phase.
- Only one Phase may be made per hand. For instance, a player who must make a run of 7 cards (Phase 4) cannot complete the next two Phases in the same hand by laying down a run of 9.
- If a player successfully makes a Phase, then they try to make the next Phase in the next hand. If they fail to make a Phase, they must try to make the same Phase again in the next hand. As a result, players may not all be working on the same Phase in the same hand.
- Players receive credit for making a Phase as soon as it is laid down. A player does not need to win the hand in order to receive credit for the Phase. Several players will often complete their Phase in the same hand.
Hitting is the way to get rid of leftover cards after making a Phase. A hit is made by putting a card directly on a Phase already laid down. The cards must properly fit with the cards already down. Before a player can make a hit, their own Phase must already be laid down. A player may only hit during their turn. A player may hit any combination of their own Phase and other player's Phases, and may hit with as many cards as can be played from the player's hand on a single turn.
Going Out / Finishing a Hand
After laying down a Phase, players try to "go out" as soon as possible. To go out, a player must get rid of all of their cards by a combination of hitting on existing Phases and discarding cards they cannot use to hit. The player to go out first wins the hand. To go out, the player must be able to discard a card at the end of their turn, otherwise they are "floating". The winner of the hand, and any other players who also complete their Phase, will advance to the next Phase for the next hand, while any player not able to complete their Phase remain stuck on that Phase. Players total the number of cards left in their hands (the fewer cards left in their hand, the better) and score them as follows:
- 5 points for all values 1-9
- 10 points for all values 10-12
- 15 points for a Skip
- 25 points for a Wild
Each player's score for the hand is added to that player's running total (players who did not complete their Phase cannot have a score of less than 50 for the hand and often have far more with the inclusion of extra points for large values and wilds; this is known as being "set" similar to Hearts or Spades), the deal rotates to the left, all the cards are shuffled and a new hand begins. Again, if a player did not complete their Phase before another player went out, they must work on the same Phase again in the next hand.
A variation of going out is for a player to draw a card and then play all cards in their hand without discarding. This is known as going out "floating". Because the player must be able to discard a card in order to actually end the hand, other players now have at least one extra turn in which to go out themselves or at least improve their score. In addition, a "floating" player must draw a card and play it if able, and must draw the top card from the discard pile if it can be played; thus the floating player can be forced to play on their next turn instead of drawing and discarding. The floating player can also be skipped as normal. If someone else goes out before the "floater", the floater receives a zero score, but does not technically win the hand.
The strategic value of floating is that the person immediately preceding the floating player is generally forced to try to "keep them afloat" for at least a few turns, either by discarding cards the floating player is required to pick up and play, or by skipping the floater. This generally puts the player preceding the floater at a disadvantage compared to the other players and makes it less likely that that player will be able to finish their Phase if they have not yet done so. Players can use this strategy to "gang up" on one player; the player after them will float, forcing the player to try to keep them afloat while all other players get a number of extra turns to try to lay down their Phase or go out. Of course, the player preceding the floater is not actually forced to keep them afloat and may be able to go out themselves, lay down their Phase (thus drastically reducing their score for the hand), or may simply concede the hand by allowing the floater to draw (the card drawn is likely to be an unplayable, thus discardable, card).
If a player is floating, and there is no possible card that could be discarded or drawn to prevent that player from being able to discard, they are known as "floating dead". This is rare, and usually happens when the floating player completes Phases 5, 6, or 7, no-one else has completed their Phase, and the floater's run has expanded through all 12 values. If no-one else can lay down a hittable Phase in that turn, only another player playing a Skip or the floater drawing a Skip will keep the hand going, and only 4 exist in the deck.
The first player to complete Phase 10 at the end of a hand is the winner. If two or more players complete Phase 10 in the same hand, then the player with the fewest total points is the winner. In the event of a tie, the players that tied replay Phase number 10. The first one to go out is the winner.
The Masters Edition of the game can be played by two to four players and includes additional rules:
- The ability to choose which Phase to attempt (not necessarily in numerical order) based on the cards dealt to the player. Players must verbally declare which Phase they are attempting during the hand after cards are dealt.
- The ability to set aside (or save) one card per hand.
- The ability to draw one card from their save pile per hand.
The Masters Edition comes with 10 Phase cards for each player to keep track of the Phases which they have completed during gameplay. The Masters Edition also includes only two Skip cards instead of the four that the original edition contains. This makes the playable number of cards 106, plus the forty phase cards, for a total of 146 cards in the box.
Phase 10 Dice
Phase 10 Dice is dice game inspired by Phase 10.