Do you prefer games of strategy or luck? If you can’t decide, then 3Up 3Down is the game for you! And, if you’re playing someone who has a clear preference for strategy or luck, you’ll have the advantage of frustrating them at some point in the game. You can’t begin to imagine the fun of a game that lets you play strategically, then hits you with luck right when you think you’re about to win!
What’s in the box? A deck of cards. That’s it. That’s all you need. There are three types of Clear cards: Clear; Clear +1; and Clear +2. Clear cards zero out the stack, removing all cards in the discard pile from the game. Clear +1 lets you clear the stack and start the next one with one card and Clear +2 lets you clear the stack and start the next one with two cards. These cards are advantageous until they aren’t. *dun dun duuuuun* The rest of the cards are numbered and range from 1 to 10. There are three different colors, but the colors don’t impact game play, though you can use them to shorten the deck for a quicker game by removing all cards of one or two colors.
How to play 3 Up 3 Down
3Up 3Down is a shedding game, meaning the goal is to get rid of your cards before anyone else gets rid of theirs. Each person is dealt three cards face down, then six cards for their hand. From their hand, they then choose three cards to put face up on the face-down cards. Get it? Three (cards) up and three (cards) down = 3Up 3Down. The remaining three cards that you were dealt become your hand and the remaining cards in the deck are placed in the center of the field of play, becoming the draw pile.
The first player is generally the player to the left of the dealer, but you can choose youngest or oldest or however you like. Discarding is in numerical order from lower to higher numbers, but not necessarily sequentially. As long as the card you have in your hand is equal to or higher than the top card on the discard pile, you can discard it. If you have multiples of a number, you can discard multiple cards in one turn, but if it’s a much higher card, you might want to keep one as protection. Once you’ve discarded, you must pick up enough cards from the draw pile to have three cards in your hand.
If you don’t have a card equal to or higher than the one on the top of the discard pile, you must pick up the entire discard pile and it becomes your hand. Your opponents will be thrilled and you’ll be glad that the Clear cards help keep the discard pile down by removing cards from play. You will also not have to draw any cards from the draw pile until you have fewer than three cards in your hand, so there’s a very-thin silver lining there.
The real fun begins when the draw card pile is gone. At that point, when a player has discarded the last card in their hand, they can choose from their three face-up cards. Choose wisely, though, because the game rules continue in play until someone wins. If you don’t have a card that you can play from your three stacks, you have to pick one up and then pick up the discard pile and continue playing until you’ve discarded all of those cards. That continues until you’ve discarded all three of the face-up cards.
Now, the game turns diabolical and even more fun! Without knowing what the three face-down cards are, you must choose one to continue your game. If the card you choose is equal to or higher than the top card on the discard pile, you can play it. If it is lower, then you have to pick up the discard pile and keep playing until you’ve discarded all of those cards. Play continues like that until someone has discarded all three of their face-down cards, too.
How to win 3Up 3Down
Get rid of all your cards. It’s as simple as that. It only gets difficult when you get down to the six cards on the table. To some extent, you can strategize how to play the cards that are face up, but the face-down cards are a mystery. If you choose the wrong one, you’ve got a hand again and can’t touch the remaining face-down cards until your hand is empty. The last few moments of play, when you’re trying to get rid of your last three cards, are the most fun, because there is no strategy left. It’s all luck (and Murphy’s law for your opponents, if you’re the lucky one), which makes it fun and funny. We are always laughing by the time we finish the game, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen when you get to the three face-down cards.
3Up 3Down is marked 7+ for age recommendations and, given the relative simplicity of the game, you can probably play it with younger children, though it might be better if the younger players are teamed with an adult. The game helps with sequencing, number identification, and strategy, so I say let the littles play if they know their numbers. 3Up 3Down is for 2-6 players. You could probably play with more if you combined decks or set up a tournament night!
On a personal note, my father suffered a traumatic brain injury several years before he passed. We used this game to help him with his cognitive recovery. It helped with sequencing, rules, and strategy, and he was able to have fun without getting too stressed out, because the game isn’t very difficult and the element of luck at the end eases the stress of strategic play and gets everyone laughing. Your mile may vary, but it worked for us.