Goop: Play another Card Game!

Published on, August 8, 2002

Heresy: Play Another Card Game!

by Ron Vitale

Hi all, I see that people are still stopping by to read this article and are on this page for a good amount of time. Please do me a favor and say hi to me on Twitter or send me an email. I'm curious as to how you heard about this game. Thanks!

Have I gone off the deep end to suggest that you try another card game besides Magic? No, I haven't. I want to share this card game with everyone because it'll strengthen your concentration skills, force you to act quickly, help you to adapt to a new playing environment, and best of all-it's fun! What's the name of the card game? Our bunch of friends call it Goop. Some of you out there have probably played this game under a different name. To play the game, all you need is 3-9 players and a set of normal playing cards for each player (each deck must have a different card back).


Why would I spend my time writing a Magic article that's about another card game? Seems strange, right? Well, Richard Garfield has been a lover of games for many years and he's designed Magic, Netrunner, and the new Star Wars card game. And what about some of the other games Wizards has put out over the years: RoboRally and The Great Dalmuti? Playing games, no matter if it's Magic or not, can be fun and a great way to spend those hot summer nights. But the best thing about Goop, is that playing the game forces you to concentrate. Just as you need to be truly observant in a game of Magic to see all the possibilities so that you can win, Goop forces you to view many separate piles of cards at once, and you need to act fast to win.

Here's how to play: The best games I've played have been with five or six people. Gather your friends up and have them all shuffle a deck of cards. (The reason why each deck must have a different back is that you'll need to separate cards at the end of each game-with different decks, players can gather up their cards easily.) After the decks are thoroughly shuffled (doing a five pile Magic shuffle is another way to have non-Magic players ask: "What are you doing?" It's a great introduction for explaining what the Magic card game is). Another quick note on shuffling: This is an extremely important part of the game. The cards must be shuffled really well. If not, then whoever uses that deck will have an easier time in winning the game.

So finish shuffling your cards and then everyone puts their shuffled deck into the center of the table. At that point, the person whose birthday is closest to the current date picks a deck (he or she cannot pick the deck they just shuffled). Then go around the table clockwise, until everyone has a deck they haven't shuffled.

Once everyone has a deck, each player deals out, face down into a pile, 13 cards. Then take the thirteen cards, and put the entire pile face up. You can see your top card but you are not allowed to look at the 12 cards below it. This is your Goop pile. Then, from the cards remaining in your deck, flip over four cards, face up, in four separate piles. Every person's playing field should look like this:

Goop pile, face up, to your left and then four face up cards in four piles to the right of the Goop pile. After everyone has done this, you're ready to start the game. What's the object of the game? You want to be the first person to get rid of all 13 cards in your Goop pile. If you do this, you shout out "Goop!" and you won that hand.

Whoever picked the first deck, has the right to say "Go!" (In subsequent rounds, the person who "gooped," gets to say "Go!") Once the game has started, there are no "turns." Everyone plays at the same time. Look at your Goop pile and the face up cards. If you have an Ace, you can take that Ace and move it into the center of the board.


All players can put their Aces in the center playing area. Since each player has four Aces, there could a good amount of them in the playing area. Any player may place an Ace in the center of the table and anyone can play cards on that Ace. Here's an example:


Player 3 puts an Ace of Diamonds into the playing field. Player 2 has the Two of Diamonds showing in one of her four piles. She can pull the Two of Diamonds from the pile and play it on the Ace of Diamonds (and then take the top card in your Goop pile and put it to where the Two of Diamonds was). If another player also has a Two of Diamonds, then it's a race to see who can get their card on the Ace first. The rule is: Whoever's card is directly on the Ace first can keep it there. The other player must take their card back. Aces in the center area are there for you to build up on. Cards start as Ace, then Two, Three, Four-all the way up to King. Once the King is player on that Ace, then the pile is considered "dead" (no more points can be gained). But if someone else has another Ace of Diamonds, then that Two you had in your face up pile, can still be used.

Getting back to the cards in front of you: The four, separate, face up piles. If you happen to have a card you can play in one of your four, face up, piles in front of you, do so, and then take a card from your Goop pile and play that card where the missing card was from the four card piles. You must have four rows of cards at all times. So if you play a card, replace the card from your Goop pile right away. To get cards out of your Goop pile, you can also play a Goop card onto your four pile of cards. For example, if you have an Eight of Diamonds and there's a Nine of Spades in one of your four piles, you can play the Eight of Diamonds underneath the Nine of Spades.

After you can't play any cards into the center playing area or from your Goop pile, you then take the remaining cards in your deck, deal up three cards, and flip them over (again, you can't shuffle or look through your remaining deck. Same goes with the Goop pile). This part of game plays like solitaire. If the face up card you see can be played in the center of the board or on building off of the four cards next to your Goop pile, then play it. Essentially, you keep playing three cards and then flipping over and playing off of the cards in your playing field until you or someone else says "Goop!" Remember, that you can build off of the four rows of cards in front of you. Let's say you have a Six of Diamonds and a Seven of Clubs in two separate piles.


Remove the Six of Diamonds from the one pile and move it to underneath the Seven of Clubs. You'll then need to take the top card in your Goop pile and move it to the blank spot where the Six of Diamonds had been. Also, if you have a Nine, Eight, Seven, Six sets of cards set up in one of the four rows, you could move that whole pile to underneath one of the other three remaining rows just like in solitaire.

So How Do I Win?

Winning the game isn't easy. You're playing off of the other players in the game as well as playing against their speed and skill. What you want to do is to play cards in the center board because you get one point for each card there. When someone calls "Goop!" and the hand ends, you need to count the remaining cards in your Goop pile. You get -2 points for each card left in your Goop pile. If you're not fast enough, it's not uncommon for you to get caught with 11 cards in your Goop pile (which translates to -22 points). So the object of the game is to be the first person to say "Goop!" and get a lot of points. Once the first person says "Goop!" and cards are separated and counted, then cards are shuffled and each player puts his deck in the center of the table. The person who has the lowest score in the game gets to pick his deck first. The game ends when a player reaches 100 points.

Why Another Game: What about My Magic?!

Look, Magic is a great game, but they'll be times in which you'll need a break from Magic or are with a group who don't play. Goop is a great game to practice your concentration skill. Trust me, if you play the game with nine people, you'll see how hard it is to keep track of what eight other people are doing. The game can become rather fast paced and stressful. As a longtime Magic player, I learned that the best learning skills to pick up in Goop is shuffling and raising your level of concentration to go beyond its normal scope. And you have to play fast. Really fast. If you sit back and don't play any cards, you won't get any points. This reminds me of a Magic tournament I played in: Speed Magic. Essentially, you had one hour to play as many duels as you possibly could. The winner of the most games won the tourney. Goop, unlike Magic, is an easy to learn game. You can teach people how to play it in about 10 minutes and you don't have to spend a lot of money on cards. You can go on Ebay and search for casino card playing decks and buy about a dozen for around $2.00 a deck. And that's all the cards you'll ever need!

Summing It All Up

It's summertime. You'll be on vacation, staying up late, traveling, and having fun Why not bring a couple decks of cards with you if you can't bring your whole Magic card collection with you? If you're a teenager playing Magic, why not impress your parents and teach them Goop? Show them that you're not just in Korn and Papa Roach-I bet you'll surprise them and have a great time. If you're an older Magic player, why not teach your wife and friends? It'll bring you hours of entertainment and you'll have a blast.

So putting it all together, here's a run down of the rules:

  • Each player must play with a normal playing deck of cards with a different back face.
  • Each player deals out 13 cards for their Goop pile, turn this pile face up, and then deals out four cards, in four separate piles, beside the Goop pile.
  • The player who's birthday is closest to the date says go. After the first round, the person who called "Goop!" in previous game, gets to say "Go."
  • Any Aces showing as the top card in the Goop pile or in the four face up piles can be played into the center of the board. Players then can play their cards (of the same suit) on these aces: two, three, four-all the way up to King.
  • The face up card in your Goop pile can be played in the center of the board if you can build on what's out there (if you have a Nine of Diamonds and you see the Eight of Diamonds in the center area, play that card!) The card in the Goop pile could also be played in one of the four row of cards beside your Goop pile (if you have a Six of Diamonds on your Goop pile and one of the four rows has a Seven of Clubs, place that Six of Diamonds underneath the Seven of Clubs).
  • After you can't play any cards, take your deck, deal yourself three cards and flip them over. You can play the last card in the center playing area or on one of your four piles in front of you. Remember, that you only get points for cards you put in the center of the table. It's not uncommon to not have cards to play in the center area so be sure to flip your deck quickly.
  • Go through your deck, three at a time, then flip and try to play that card. Remember to look to see if you can play any of your four face up pile cards or your top Goop card into the center of the game. Continually scan the board and the four piles in front of you. You want to get rid of those Goop cards as quickly as you can.
  • The first person to play all their Goop cards and calls "Goop!" wins that game. Gather up all the cards in the center, separate them, and hand them back out. Each person gets -2 for each card left in his/her Goop pile and 1 point for each card in the center. The first person to get to 100 wins the game.

A quick note on three player games: It's possible to get into a lock in which no one can play any cards. If this happens, each player can shuffle up his/her deck and then deal three cards and flip. Usually this unlocks the game. As for other rules, players will need to decide ahead of time if two hands can be used to play cards, if players can knock the hand away of another player, etc. Depending on how nice (or mean) you are, adjust the game accordingly.

With the summer heat scorching the Northern hemisphere and school coming up around the corner, savor these remaining summer nights with some fun! Try Goop and the next time you play Magic you'll notice how good your concentration level will be. Enjoy and save a deck for me!