Cards used in Phase 10
|Players||Two to six|
|Setup time||< 1 min|
|Playing time||> 3 min per hand|
|Skill(s) required||Saving important cards; knowing when to put down those cards; matching, ordering|
Phase 10 is a card game created in 1982 by Kenneth Johnson and sold by Mattel, which purchased the rights from Fundex Games in 2010. Phase 10 is based on a variant of rummy known as Liverpool Rummy, and is a member (along with Liverpool) of the contract rummy family. It requires a special deck or two regular decks of cards; it can be played by two to six people. The game is named after the ten phases (or melds) that a player must advance through in order to win. Phase 10 is Fundex's best selling product, selling 32,658,846 units to date, making it the 2nd best-selling commercial card game behind Mattel's Uno. In December 2010, Fundex sold the rights to Phase 10 to Mattel, and now develops and markets a line of games based on brands and other IP formerly exclusive to Mattel as well as Fundex's own brands.
The object of the game is to be the first person to complete all 10 phases. In the case of two players completing the last phase in the same hand, the player with the lowest score out of the tied players is the winner. If those scores also happen to be tied, a tiebreaker round is played where the tying players attempt to complete phase 10 (or in variants, the last phase each player had tried to complete in the previous round).
For each hand, each player's object is to complete and lay down the current phase, and then rid their hand of remaining cards by discarding them on laid-down Phases, called "hitting". The player who does this first wins the hand and scores no penalty; all other players earn penalty points according to the value of cards remaining in their hand.
There are 108 cards in a deck:
- 96 numbered cards: 2 of each value from 1-12, in each of four colors. Therefore, there are 24 cards of each color and 8 of each value.
- 8 Wild cards;
- 4 Skip cards;
With two regular decks of cards, the suits can represent the 4 different colors, kings wild, and jokers skip.
- Wild: A "Wild" card may be used in place of a number card, and can be used as any color to complete any phase. Original print runs of Phase 10 had two Wilds in each color; to reduce confusion, current print runs use black Wilds.
- More than one “Wild” card may be used in completing a Phase. Players can use as many “Wild” cards as they want as long as they use one natural card.
- Once a "Wild" card has been played in a Phase, it cannot be replaced by the intended card and used elsewhere. It must remain as that card until the hand is over.
- If the dealer starts the discard pile with a "Wild" card, the card may be picked up by the first player.
- A "Wild" card may not be used as a "skip" card.
- Skip: Skip cards have only one purpose: to cause another player to lose a turn. To use, a player discards the "Skip" card on their turn and chooses the player who will lose a turn.
- When a "Skip" card is drawn it may be discarded immediately or saved for a later turn.
- A "Skip" card may never be picked up from the discard pile.
- A "Skip" card cannot be used to complete any phase, including Phase 8 (7 cards of one color). The original print runs of Phase 10 had blue Skip cards, causing confusion with normal blue cards in the deck; Skip cards are now black in current editions.
- Any player can be skipped, not just the person who would normally play next.
- A player cannot be skipped twice in the same round; they must lose turn in the round before being skipped again. (They can be skipped twice in a row but not until their turn passes)
A phase is a combination of cards. Phases are usually composed of sets (multiple cards of the same value), runs (multiple cards in consecutive ascending order that can wrap around to 1 from 12), cards of one color, or a combination of these. As the name suggests, there are ten phases:
Original and Master's Edition Phases:
- Phase 1: 2 sets of 3
- Phase 2: 1 set of 3 + 1 run of 4
- Phase 3: 1 set of 4 + 1 run of 4
- Phase 4: 1 run of 7
- Phase 5: 1 run of 8
- Phase 6: 1 run of 9
- Phase 7: 2 sets of 4
- Phase 8: 7 cards of one color
- Phase 9: 1 set of 5 + 1 set of 2
- Phase 10: 1 set of 5 + 1 set of 3
Phase 10 Twist Phases:
- Phase 1: 3 sets of 3
- Phase 2: 4 sets of 2
- Phase 3: 1 set of 5 + 1 run of 4
- Phase 4: 2 sets of 3 + 1 run of 3
- Phase 5: 1 set of 3 + 1 run of 6
- Phase 6: 2 runs of 4
- Phase 7: 1 run of 4 + 4 cards of 1 color
- Phase 8: 1 run of 5 of 1 color
- Phase 9: 8 cards of 1 color
- Phase 10: 9 cards of 1 color
Each player can make only one phase per hand. For instance, a run of 9 cards when the player is on Phase 4 cannot also count as Phase 5 and/or 6. In the original and Phase 10 Twist versions, the phases must also be completed in order, but the Master's Edition variant has a rule allowing players to choose the phase they will attempt to complete after being dealt their hand and before play begins.
- Set: A set is made of two or more cards with the same number and any color.
- Run: A run (similar to a straight) is made of two or more cards numbered in order, in any color. (though in older versions all numbers must be of the same color.) Runs must stop at 12 and cannot wrap around to 1.
- All One Color: Phase 8 of the original and Master's Edition, and several phases of Phase 10 Twist, require the player to collect cards that are all the same color (or suit, if using ordinary playing cards). This is the ONLY time the colors of the cards are relevant in the game; runs do not have to be all one color (as in many standard-deck Rummy variants). Wilds, despite having a printed color in certain editions, can be used to represent any color, and Skips, despite being blue in certain editions, cannot be used to complete this (or any) Phase.
One player is chosen to be the dealer (alternately, the deal can rotate to the left after each hand). The dealer shuffles the deck and deals 10 cards, face down, one at a time, to each player. Players hold their 10 cards in hand so that the other players cannot see them. The remaining deck is placed face-down in the center of the play area to become the draw pile. A wild card turned up goes to the next player. The dealer then turns the top card of the draw pile over and places it next to the draw pile, to become the discard pile. During the first hand, all players try to complete Phase 1.
If, during a player's turn, they are able to make their current Phase with the cards in their hand, they lay the Phase down, face-up on the table before discarding.
- Phases must be made in order, from 1 to 10.
- A player must have the whole Phase in hand before laying it down.
- A player may lay down more than the minimum requirements of a Phase, but only if the additional cards can be directly added to the cards already in the Phase. For instance, if a Phase requires a set of 3 but the player has four of that card, the player may lay down all four cards when completing the Phase.
- Only one Phase may be made per hand. For instance, a player who must make a run of 7 cards (Phase 4) cannot complete the next two Phases in the same hand by laying down a run of 9.
- If a player successfully makes a Phase, then they try to make the next Phase in the next hand. If they fail to make a Phase, they must try to make the same Phase again in the next hand. As a result, players may not all be working on the same Phase in the same hand.
- Players receive credit for making a Phase as soon as it is laid down. A player does not need to win the hand in order to receive credit for the Phase. Several players will often complete their Phase in the same hand.
Hitting is the way to get rid of leftover cards after making a Phase. A hit is made by putting a card directly on a Phase already laid down. The cards must properly fit with the cards already down. Before a player can make a hit, their own Phase must already be laid down. A player may only hit during their turn. A player may hit any combination of their own Phase and other player's Phases, and may hit with as many cards as can be played from the player's hand on a single turn. Players are not allowed to replace a wild card in a Phase with the card from their hand matching the card the Wild stands for.
Going out / finishing a hand
After laying down a Phase, players try to "go out" as soon as possible. To go out, a player must get rid of all of their cards by a combination of hitting on existing Phases and discarding cards they cannot use to hit. The player to go out first wins the hand. To go out, the player must be able to discard a card at the end of their turn. The winner of the hand, and any other players who also complete their Phase, will advance to the next Phase for the next hand, while any player not able to complete their Phase remain stuck on that Phase. Players total the number of cards left in their hands (the fewer cards left in their hand, the better) and score them as follows:
- 5 points for each card with value 1-9
- 10 points for each card with value 10-12
- 15 points for a Skip
- 25 points for a Wild
Each player's score for the hand is added to that player's running total (players who did not complete their Phase cannot have a score of less than 50 for the hand and often have far more with the inclusion of extra points for large values and wilds; this is known as being "set" similar to Hearts or Spades), the deal rotates to the left, all the cards are shuffled and a new hand begins. Again, if a player did not complete their Phase before another player went out, they must work on the same Phase again in the next hand.
The first player that has completed Phase 10 at the end of a hand wins the game, regardless of whether they also discarded all their cards. If two or more players complete Phase 10 in the same hand, then the player with the fewest total points is the winner. In the event of a tie, the players that tied replay Phase number 10 and the first player to complete their phase and discard all their cards wins.
A variation of play is to allow Floating. Instead of going out by discarding their last card, a player draws a card and then play all cards in their hand without discarding. This is known as going out "floating". Because the player must be able to discard a card in order to actually end the hand, other players now have at least one extra turn in which to go out themselves or at least improve their score. In addition, a "floating" player must draw a card and play it if able, and must draw the top card from the discard pile if it can be played; thus the floating player can be forced to play on their next turn instead of drawing and discarding. The floating player can also be skipped as normal. If someone else goes out before the "floater", the floater receives a zero score, but does not technically win the hand.
The strategic value of floating is that the person immediately preceding the floating player is generally forced to try to "keep them afloat" for at least a few turns, either by discarding cards the floating player is required to pick up and play, or by skipping the floater. This generally puts the player preceding the floater at a disadvantage compared to the other players and makes it less likely that that player will be able to finish their Phase if they have not yet done so. Players can use this strategy to "gang up" on one player; the player after them will float, forcing the player to try to keep them afloat while all other players get a number of extra turns to try to lay down their Phase or go out. Of course, the player preceding the floater is not actually forced to keep them afloat and may be able to go out themselves, lay down their Phase (thus drastically reducing their score for the hand), or may simply concede the hand by allowing the floater to draw (the card drawn is likely to be an unplayable, thus discardable, card).
If a player is floating, and there is no possible card that could be discarded or drawn to prevent that player from being able to discard, they are known as "floating dead"; it is extremely likely the floating player will be forced to end the hand on their next turn. This is rare, and usually happens when the floating player completes a phase involving a long run of cards, no-one else has completed their Phase, and the floater's run has expanded through all 12 values. If no-one else can lay down a hittable Phase in that turn, only another player playing a Skip or the floater drawing a Skip will keep the hand going, and only 4 exist in the deck.
Alternate Wild Card Deal Up Method
If the dealer turns over a wild card at the beginning of the hand to start the discard pile, the dealer gets to decide who gets the wild card, instead of it automatically going to the player to the left of the dealer. The recipient of the wild card will choose a card from their hand to discard (the card cannot be a Skip), and then play continues with the player to the left of the dealer (or if that player had received the wild card, with the next player to the left after them). This slightly reduces the luck component inherent in the game, increasing the strategic and/or social element.
A similar rule can be used in the case of a Skip card being turned over as the first card.
The Masters Edition of the game can be played by two to four players and includes additional rules:
- The ability to choose which Phase to attempt (not necessarily in numerical order) based on the cards dealt to the player. Players must verbally declare which Phase they are attempting during the hand after cards are dealt.
- The ability to set aside (or save) one card per hand. (note: you may not save your “Going Out” discard)
- The ability to draw one card from their save pile per turn.
The Masters Edition comes with 10 Phase cards for each player to keep track of the Phases which they have completed during gameplay. The Masters Edition also includes only two Skip cards instead of the four that the original edition contains. This makes the playable number of cards 106, plus the forty phase cards, for a total of 146 cards in the box.
Masters Edition Variant #1
Same rules as Masters Edition except the player declares what phase they are completing as they lay down the phase.
Masters Edition Variant #2
Same rules as Masters Edition except;
- The player declares what phase they are completing as they lay down the phase.
- After the player lays down the phase and hits on the other players, then they can(if they wish) discard their current laid down phase, perform the normal discard or save and bring their hand back up to ten by drawing from the draw pile and on next turn can work on a new phase. (has to be done on the same turn as phase lay down and cannot be done if the player discards their last card)
In Anti-phase, you have to complete your phase in order to stay on your present phase, if you don't complete your phase you move down a phase.
Anti-phase for others
In Anti-phase for others, a rule card is left in the deck and it is discarded as your last card. Then you get to name who moves down a phase...if it's stuck in your hand at the end of the hand you move down a phase. It also may be discarded face down but may be picked up by the next player who can draw from the deck.
Phase 10 Dice
Phase 10 Dice is dice game inspired by Phase 10 and also published by Fundex Games. The goal is the same, to try to complete the phases, 1-10, in order. Instead of cards, players each take turns rolling 10 six-sided dice, 6 marked with 5-10 and the other 4 with 1-4 and two wilds each. In each turn the player rolls all ten dice, then may set aside any of them and re-roll the rest up to two times, for a total of three rolls. If they've completed a phase, the total sum of the dice used in the phase are added to their score and next turn they move on to a new phase. Like in the card game, failing to complete a set means having to try for it again next turn, and the game ends once a player finishes phase 10.
Arkansas Rules differs from standard Phase 10 rules in two ways: 1) Each player can complete all ten phases in any order he/she sees fit, and 2) SKIP cards are valid throughout a round (i.e. whenever a SKIP card is played, the appropriate player is skipped whether he/she has been skipped before or not). Arkansas Rules allows players to capitalize on the hand that is dealt if it contains most of the cards needed for an uncompleted phase. The rule regarding completing phases in any order is similar to the commercialized "Masters Edition" of the game.
In order to win, a player must complete all ten phases. Scoring is the same as standard rules Phase 10.
In 2007 Fundex and Magmic signed a deal that brought Phase 10 to BlackBerry devices. In 2009 Magmic released the title for iOS, with Masters Edition coming in February 2012. It currently sits at 4.5 Stars in the US AppStore. In March 2012 Magmic released both a free and paid version of phase 10 for Android.
- "Livingstone Deals a Winning Hand to Fundex Games". Retrieved 2012-11-23.
- "About Us" Fundex Games 2011. May 22, 2011.
- "Phase 10 Dice Instructions" Fundex Games 2011. Dec 18 2011.
- "Phase 10 Goes Mobile after 25 Years". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "Phase 10 Release Date". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "Phase 10 Masters Edition Release". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "Phase 10 App Rankings". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "About Us" Fundex Games 2011. May 22, 2011.
- Fundex Games
- Phase 10 Mobile by Magmic Games
- Phase Out! Mobile by Phineus Media
- Official Phase 10 rules
- Phase 10 at BoardGameGeek
- Phase 10 variants at pagat.com
- Phase 10 for iPhone