Egyptian Rat Screw is a fast-paced, fun card game that 2 or more players can play. This game is also called Egyptian Ratkiller, Slap, ERS, Egyptian Ratslap, and Egyptian War.
Unlike most other card games, Egyptian Rat Screw generally rewards players having the fastest reflexes, good eyes, and great coordination.
Though the exact origins of Egyptian Rat Screw are unknown, Beggar-My-Neighbour – a 19th century game in Britain, seems to be its direct ancestor.
However, the gameplay of Slapjack is believed to be the inspiration behind this game’s concept of slapping for cards on some specific combinations.
Egyptian Rat Screw is known to have existed during the mid-1970s but it was in the mid-to-late 1990s when it gained tremendous popularity (Source).
Quick Play Tutorial
How To Play
The player who wins all the cards emerges as the winner in this game. The game begins with all the cards being dealt out.
Though all players are dealt an equal number of cards, some may have one more card than others as the extras get distributed as they would in a normal deal. The players can’t look at their cards as they remain face down in front of them.
The player sitting on the dealer’s left side begins the play. He/she flips the top card of his/her card pile into the middle. In case it’s a numbered card (2-10), play continues clockwise to the next player. In case it’s an ace or a face card, the next player has to play an ace or a face card as well. Based on the card played, the next player gets several chances (like the ones mentioned below) to play an ace or a face card:
- Jacks: 1 chance to play an ace or a face card
- Queens: 2 chances to play an ace or a face card
- Kings: 3 chances to play an ace or a face card
- Aces: 4 chances to play an ace or a face card
When an ace or a face card is played, the next player has to play an ace or a face card within the allotted chances. If he/she fails, the last player who has played an ace or a face card takes the pile in the middle. The cards are then added to his/her deck’s bottom, face down, and aren’t shuffled. The player who takes the pile is always the one to start the next pile. A player who collects all cards in a deck wins the game.
Slaps are an interesting part of Egyptian Rat Screw. Before the game begins, players should agree on certain combinations of cards that would allow them to slap the pile and claim it. Some slap combinations are:
- Doubles: Two cards of equal value are played back to back
- Sandwich: A double with a card of different value between the two matching cards (like when a 5, 8, 5) is played
- Top Bottom: The middle pile’s top card matches the pile’s bottom
- Sequence of 4: 4 cards with consecutive values in descending or ascending order are played in a row (like a 5, 4, 3, 2, or 2, 3, 4, 5 is played)
- Marriage: A queen and king are played back to back (like Q, K or K, Q)
You can get a better idea of how to play this game by taking a look at this Egyptian Rat Screw Tutorial.
If you want a printable guide, check out this pdf:
The game is suitable for the 8+ age group and can be played using a standard 52-card deck. For a larger number of players, multiple standard decks can be shuffled together. Some important rules of the game are:
- If the pile is slapped mistakenly, the player doing it must put one or more cards, face up at the bottom of the pile as a penalty.
- If a card is played on top of a card combination that could have been slapped, the chance of slapping the pile is lost; the play continues as usual.
- Despite being out of cards, a player isn’t out of the game as he/she can still slap the pile to win cards.
- If a player incorrectly slaps the pile with no cards, he/she goes out of the game.
Egyptian Rat Screw Strategy
Memorization may help players to identify slapping possibilities.
For example, in a 2-player game where one player rightfully slaps a double, the other player may recognize that later on, the double will crop up as a sandwich, which can then get slapped.
A player may even slap wrongly and deliberately to “burn” a card or two leading up to a face card that he/she remembers from earlier on in the game. This becomes particularly useful if the previous player has played a high-value face card (like a jack), where there’s a single chance to play a face card.
At times, players may fake a slap on purpose. With this, they can probably persuade another player to slap incorrectly, or get an advantageous position in the deck that they remembered from the game’s preceding pile collections.
Egyptian Rat Screw Drinking Game
It’s an interesting variant of the game where a player who doesn’t get a face card has to drink as many chugs as the last card he/she threw down, while the person who threw the face card gets all the cards in the middle. As in the original version, you must end up with all the cards to win this game.
Egyptian Rat Screw App
If you like solitaire card games, you can use the app to play Egyptian Rat Screw against the computer at various difficulty levels – easy, hard, medium, or custom.
Though you can play against one or more friends locally as well, the fun lies in using the app’s Game Center to face off against either random opponents or your friends online in a multiplayer game.
Be it tracking your achievement progress via the Game Center, or improving your rank on the leaderboard by winning as many multi-online games as you can, the app lets you do all that and more.