Thrift Treasure: Sudoku Card Game

SuDoku: The Card Game - Featured photo of box lid and sample cards.

It isn’t often we find a sixteen-year-old game at thrift whose contents are unopened. This copy of Sudoku by Z-Man Games was unwrapped, but the deck of cards inside was still sealed. It is a little sad that no one gave the game a chance before sending it to the donation bin. If they had known anything about modern games, they would have recognized the name of the designer, Reiner Knizia, one of the most prolific game inventors of our time.

We’ve talked about several games which use the Sudoku mechanic of disallowing like cards from being in the same area as each other. Good examples are Kakuro for Dummies, Sumoku and Color Cube Sudoku. SuDoku: The Card Game supports two to five players who are vying to be the person with the fewest discarded cards at the end of the game. The box contains fifty-four square SuDoku cards, nine of which are yellow and the remaining forty-five, blue.

SuDoku: The Card Game - Box lid, rule book and sealed deck of cards.

Setup is very quick. Take one of the yellow cards at random and place it in the center of the play area. The rest of the yellow cards, along with the blue, are all shuffled together to form the play deck. Deal five cards to each person and place the rest face-down within reach of all players as a draw deck.

SuDoku: The Card Game - Woman's hands holding a hand of five blue cards.

On a player’s turn they will select one card from their hand and play it on the table. Blue cards must be placed orthogonally adjacent to any card if the same number doesn’t already exist in the square directly surrounding the yellow card, or the yellow card itself. It also must be placed within an active square which contains a yellow card in the center.

SuDoku: The Card Game - A woman's hand playing a yellow card on the table next to a blue card.

Yellow cards are placed next to blue cards. They must be exactly one space away from a previous yellow card, either vertically or horizontally. Additionally, all cards played, whether blue or yellow, must not have a number which exists in the entire column or row extending from it.

SuDoku: The Card Game - Example of the board state from the middle of a game.

If a player cannot play a valid card from their hand, or incorrectly places one on the board, they take the card and put it into a personal discard penalty pile. At the end of a turn, the active player draws a card, bringing their hand total back to five cards. When all cards have been played or discarded, the game of SuDoku ends. Players count the number of cards in their discount pile, adding an extra point for each yellow card. The person with the lowest overall score wins!

SuDoku is no longer in print, but you will find a few new and used copies available on eBay. At the time of writing, there is a brand-new example for only $10.95, shipping included!

Have you ever played a tabletop version of Sudoku?

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