Thrift Treasure: 3UP 3DOWN Card Game

3UP 3DOWN Card Game - Hero

Each year at Geekway to the West, I find a lot of games I’ve never heard of before. I scour the flea market to discover new-to-me titles which others have given up on. Sometimes this means paying higher prices for collectible titles. Other times I manage to grab some gems for a dollar or two. This week’s Thrift Treasure is the latter, and I almost bought two copies not realizing I had one in my bag already!

This example of 3UP 3DOWN was still in the original shrink-wrap and priced at only fifty cents. An easy decision since I could always use the cards for other game prototypes if I didn’t like it. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case.

3UP 3DOWN Card Game - box and its contents

The portable box for 3UP 3DOWN includes eighty-four custom cards and a simplified rule pamphlet. Setup happens quickly. Shuffle the entire deck together and deal out three cards to each player (up to six can play) face-down. You will lay these face-down cards in a row in front of each person. No one may look at these beforehand. The dealer then deals six cards to all players. Next, players will examine their hands and place one card face-up from their hand on top of each face-down card. Three cards should remain in all hands.

3UP 3DOWN Card Game - Hand of cards and ready to begin playing

The object of 3UP 3DOWN is to be the first player to get rid of all cards in your hand, and the six in front of you. On a turn, each person will play a card which is equal or greater in value to the topmost card on the discard pile. If they have more than one card of that value, they may play it also. The active player draws to fill their hand back to three cards (they won’t draw if they have three or more). Play then passes to the next person on the left, who does the same. If you cannot meet or beat the number on the board, you must pick up all the cards in the discard pile and add them to your hand.

3UP 3DOWN Card Game - Example of playing multiple cards of the same number.

When a number is played three times in a row, whether from one or more players, the entire discard pile is removed from the game. The next player will begin the new stack by playing any card. There are also special “Clear” cards, when played, clear the entire discard pile. They may also ask you to take additional action(s). “Clear” cards are valued higher than any number card and may be played on any turn.

3UP 3DOWN Card Game - Playing a card from the top of the reserve.

Any time your hand is empty, you may begin to play from the tableau in front of you. You’ll begin with the face-up cards and play them as if they were in your hand. After you have played all your face-up cards, you may begin working on the face-down ones. On your turn you will flip one card over. You’ll either play it to the discard pile, if possible, or leave it in front of you and take all the discarded cards into your hand. You may not continue playing from your tableau if you have any cards in your hand at all. The first player to successfully play all their cards to the discard pile wins 3UP 3DOWN!

3UP 3DOWN Card Game - Playing a Clear card to wipe out the deck.

Even though there were multiple copies of 3UP 3DOWN for sale at the flea market, it seems to be a difficult one to source online. It is currently out of stock on both Amazon and eBay. It also shows as sold out on the publisher’s website! I guess you’ll have to keep an eye out at thrift stores or convention flea markets to get your own!

Have you ever purchased a game twice?

2 thoughts on “Thrift Treasure: 3UP 3DOWN Card Game

  1. Why can’t I find this game? I’ve always played it with just regular cards, but it’s hard to remember the rules. This game made it so much easier! Has it been discontinued?

    1. I’m sorry, but it’s currently out of print, Janet, It appears the only way to get your hands on it is like we did (second-hand from another gamer who no longer wanted it). Keep an eye out at your local thrift store. We find so many great games that way!

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