How to Play Racing Demon (aka Nertz)
What you need
Three or more players (for two players, see Flying Demon below), a deck of cards per player, a scoring pad and a pencil. Each player’s deck will need to be distinguishable from the other’s. We recommend our luxury Racing Demon Sets (obviously!).
Before you begin
Arrange yourselves around a playing area – ideally, the floor or a large sturdy table. Move all glasses, ornaments and small children to a safe distance – things can get pretty heated…
Each player starts with a full deck of shuffled cards and deals their first 13 cards into a pile: 12 face down with the 13th face up. This is the Demon.
Next to their Demon, each player deals their next four cards in a line, all face up; this is their Line of 4.
Playing the game
The aim of the game is to be the first to get rid of your Demon whilst scoring as many points as you can along the way.
The game starts at the word “GO”.
If you have an Ace on top of your Demon or in your Line of 4, you must put it in the middle of the playing area. You then fill any spaces in the Line of 4 with the card from the top of the Demon, and turn the next card in your Demon face up.
The Aces in the middle of the playing area become the basis of the Stacks. These are to be built up in suits, from the ace through to the king. Any player can add to a Stack but remember, this is a game of speed: if two or more players attempt to play the same card at the same time, whoever plays fastest stays, and the other player must take their card back to its previous position. Putting the final King onto a Stack carries extra points (see Scoring), and the player who does this must take the stack away.
As well as playing the cards from your Demon and Line of 4, you can deal out the cards in the rest of your pack in Threes in front of you. You can add to the Stacks with these (or start new Stacks with Aces) – but only with the third card. Once you’ve gone through the whole of your pack, pick up the dealt cards in front of you, turn them over and start again.
Easy right? However…
You can only use one hand at a time to move cards (though you can hold your pack in the other hand).
And you don’t have to play a card if it’s not in your interest to do so.
Winning the game
The game ends once the first player to gets rid of their Demon and calls “OUT”. With this, all action must stop immediately.
However, the “winner” may not be the one to score the most points…
Once the game has ended, all the cards in the Stacks must be sorted into each player’s colour and counted. Each card counts as one point. The player who called “OUT” gets an extra 10 points, and anyone who finished a Stack with a King gets an extra 5 points. From this total, subtract the number of cards left in your Demon. This is your score. For example, if you had 17 points but had four cards left in your Demon, your score would be 13. Note it’s possible for it to be minus.
Write down each player’s score, shuffle your pack and pass it to the player on your left for the next round.
Ready to play?
Building Ladders on your Line of 4 makes the game much faster, helping to get rid of your Demon. Build onto the Line of 4, using alternate coloured cards going down, Solitaire-style (eg 9 of Hearts followed by 8 of Spades followed by 7 of Diamonds). Cards on your Ladders can be taken from the Line of 4, from the top of your Demon or from the groups of three you deal from the pack, but gaps in the Line of 4 can only be filled with cards from your Demon. And be warned: you can only take a card from the bottom of a Ladder to place on a Stack in the middle!
Handicapping is a good way to level the playing field when you have players of different ages or experience. For this, after each round, the player with the highest score increases the number of cards in his or her Demon by one, and the player with the lowest score reduces the number of cards in his or her Demon by one.
This variation is for 2 players, and is even faster and more frenetic than Racing Demon. Instead of 13, each player start with 21 cards in their Demon. After this, you play and score in exactly the same way but rather than following suit on the Stacks, you can play any suit up to the Jack, after which the suit must be followed to the King.
House Rules are, of course, played at your discretion.
Cheating is frowned upon, competitiveness is encouraged, speed is of the essence!