Pilatch Card Games

Elevator Buttons

A game of counting, comparisons, memory, and thinking ahead. Elevator Buttons was intended for grade-schoolers, but has proven to challenge adults as well. It's also a sneaky way of teaching some basic math!

2 - 4
Deck Build
30 cards — only numeric cards ( 1 - 10 ) in each of the 3 suits

Randomly determine who will go first. Shuffle the deck. Deal out the entire deck to all players. Players may look at their hands.

Place an Up-Down card DOWN in the center of the play area. This is the direction card.

To empty your hand.

The first player may play as many cards from her hand as she wants, provided they are all the same suit. She puts them face-up in the center of the game area, near the direction card. Note the "rank-sum" of the cards played, which is determined by adding together the rank of each. For instance, if a player plays 7, 10, 1 of Scissors, then the rank-sum is 18.

Play continues clockwise.

In each turn after the first, the next player must only play cards from her hand of the superior suit to the last cards played. So if the last player played 18 Scissors total, then the current player must play Rocks. The rank-sum the current player should play is determined by the direction card. When the direction card is "UP" that player must play a greater or equal rank-sum. When the direction card is "DOWN" that player must play a lesser or equal rank-sum.

Make a pile of cards with the ranks of the last cards played clearly visible on top.

If a player plays a rank-sum that is equal to the previous rank-sum, then the direction card flips.

If a player cannot legally play any cards from her hand, or wishes to pass her turn, then she must put the bottom card of the pile into her hand, and end her turn. If each player in a round ends her turn this way, then the direction card flips.

Continue playing until a player empties her hand.

Optional Rules

  • Time Limit

    Prevent the game from going too long. Whoever has the fewest cards in hand at the end of five or ten minutes wins.

  • Start Small

    For younger kids, start with a smaller deck build that uses only lower ranks such as one to five, instead of one to ten.