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How to Play Skyjo Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

How to Play Skyjo Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Originally released in 2015 Skyjo is a card game designed by Alexander Bernhardt. The game is a simple straightforward card game meant for the entire family. The goal is to try and replace high value cards in front of you with lower value cards.

Year: 2015 | Publisher: Magilano | Designer: Alexander Bernhardt | Artist: Alexander Bernhardt

Genres: Card, Family

Ages: 8+ | Number of Players: 2-8 | Length of Game: 30-60 minutes

Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Moderate

Components: 150 cards, instructions

Where to Purchase: Amazon, eBay Any purchases made through these links (including other products) help keep Geeky Hobbies running. Thank you for your support.

Objective of Skyjo

The objective of Skyjo is to try and minimize the number of points on your cards.

Setup for Skyjo

For each round that you play, you will complete the following setup steps.

  • Shuffle all of the cards together.
  • Deal twelve cards face down to each player.
  • The rest of the cards form the draw pile. The top card from the draw pile is turned over to start the discard pile.
  • Each player places the twelve cards they were dealt into a 4 x 3 grid. All of these cards will remain face down as players can not look at them.
Setup in Skyjo
  • Each player chooses two of their face down cards and flips them over.
  • To determine who starts the first round, all of the players total their two face up cards. Whoever has the highest total will start the round. In future rounds, the player who ended the previous round (turned over their last face down card first) gets to start the next round.
This player has revealed a twelve and a zero. For determining the first player in the first round, this player will have a total of twelve.

Playing the Game

You will begin your turn by drawing a card. You can choose to draw one of two cards.

Choose Card
For this player’s turn they can choose to either take the six or the top card from the draw pile.

First you can take the top card from the discard pile. If you choose this option, you must exchange this card for one of the cards in your grid. You can exchange it for one of your face up or face down cards. You may not look at a face down card before you choose it. Once you have chosen a card and turned it over, you must exchange it for the card that you took from the discard pile. The card that you replaced with the new card will be placed on the top of the discard pile.

Otherwise you will take the top card from the draw pile. When you choose this option you can look at the card. At this point you will choose one of two options.

If you would like to keep the card, you will exchange it for one of the cards in your grid. You can either choose a face up or face down card. The card you exchange it for will be placed on top of the discard pile.

If you don’t want the card after looking at it, you can choose to discard it. After discarding it, you will flip over one of the face down cards in your grid.

After taking one of these actions, your turn ends. Play will pass to the next player clockwise (to the left).

Special Rule

Skyjo has a special rule that you can choose to use. If at any time a player has three revealed cards of the same number in a vertical column, they will discard the entire column. These three cards will be placed on top of the single card the player discarded on their turn.

End of Round

A round will end once one of the players has turned all of their cards face up. The rest of the players will get to take one more turn.

All of the players will then flip over any cards that are still face down. Each player will total the points printed on all of their cards. This total is added to each player’s game total.

The player that ended the round (was the first to flip over all of their cards) must score the least points in the round. If another player scores the same number of points or less, the player that ended the round will double the amount of points they score in the round. This only applies to positive points. You will not double their score if their total was negative.

End of Game

At the end of each round, the players total how many points they have scored in all of the rounds. Once one player has scored 100 or more total points between all of the rounds, the game will end.

The player who scored the least amount of points in the game wins.


Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Does a mixture of one's either l plus or a straight l (or two's ) count as 3 in a row for removal ?

Eric Mortensen

Thursday 16th of February 2023

I am interpreting your question as would you remove a column if there was both 1's and -1's in a column. If this is not what you are asking, can you clarify your question.

My interpretation of the official rules is that the cards in a column need to be the exact same type of card in order to be removed. Therefore a -1 and a 1 would not be considered the same cards and would not trigger the cards being removed.


Tuesday 29th of November 2022

If a player draws a card from the hidden card pile, and 11 of the 12 player's cards have all been revealed, can the player put the drawn card on the discard pile or does the player need to exchange the drawn card with one of his revealed cards?

Eric Mortensen

Wednesday 30th of November 2022

If the player takes a card from the draw pile (face down cards), they have a choice.

Should you want to keep the card you can exchange it for a face up or face down card. If you choose to exchange it for the last face down card, the card will be revealed triggering the end of the round (everyone else still gets one more turn). If you choose to exchange it for a face up card, you will not have to reveal your last card.

Your other option is to discard the card. If you choose to discard the card, you will have to reveal your last hidden card triggering the end of the round.

I hope this helped.

Skyjo Card Game Review - Geeky Hobbies

Tuesday 5th of July 2022

[…] you would like to see the complete rules/instructions for the game, check out our Skyjo how to play […]