When Nearly Is Never Nearly Enough

Kapaga is a card game that scales very well from two to, say, ten players. It thrives on drinking, bad weather, exceptionalism, and rule-wrangling. Even its name is open to debate.

Long ago Clayfox hosted a most contentious forum called the Kapaga Grayzone, home to battles such as Ace Discards, The Five of Clubs Rule, Queerly Kapaga, and Eights: How Wild? Records of these titanic struggles vanished with the collapse of BlogVoices, but the rules as recorded below are the result of consensus and even one international election.

Of course, anyone who has a problem with the rules as they stand – or, to put it less contentiously, a question about this game – is welcome to comment here.

OBJECT A: To get rid of cards in your hand.

OBJECT B: To be the last to reach more than 2,000 points total.


The person with the highest running score shuffles and deals. Misdeal is penalized.

Five cards dealt to each player (7 when there are only two players). Cards may be dealt in any order.

Anyone who looks at his/her cards before the dealer is finished is penalized. “Finished”: first card turned to begin the discard pile.

When the dealer turns over the first card, it is as if he/she had played it. If it is an 8, for example, the dealer calls for desired suit or number.

Play proceeds as in Crazy Eights, except:

  • Play by following suit or number. You may play more than one card at a time, if permissible.
  • Pick up one card only, when you can’t discard.
  • If picked-up card is playable right away, you may play.
  • No obligation to discard at any time.
  • Player who must turn discard deck over is penalized.
  • You must call KAPAGA! when you could go out next turn.
  • If caught with KAPAGA uncalled, you must pick up one card.
  • Person with nearly KAPAGA is encouraged to chant or sing, “Nearly KAPAGA” annoyingly.
  • Lying about KAPAGA is not ok.
  • Peering at others’ cards is ok.


  • A – Played along with another card of the same suit. If played
    alone, player must draw a card. An ace is never played on an ace.
  • 2 – Next player picks up two cards and cannot discard. Cumulative (ie, if a 2 is played on another two, the next player picks up four cards and cannot discard). A 2 of spades may be played on a 5 of spades for cumulative effect.
  • 3 – Normal.
  • 4 – Normal.
  • 5 – Normal, except 5 of Spades, which makes next player pick up five cards and cannot discard, and 5 of Clubs, which causes everyone to pass his or her hand to the right.
  • 6 – Normal.
  • 7 – Play skips next player.
  • 8 – Wild: Player calls for desired suit or another number. Has no power against 2s or the 5 of Spades.
  • 9 – All players pass their cards to the left.
  • 10, J, Q, K – Normal
  • Joker – All other players pick up one card. Player follows with another card. Does not answer a 2 or the 5 of Spades. Only one Joker is used in the game.


Various penalties are assessed during play. When a player goes out, the others count up the number of points they are holding in their hands as follows:

  • 3, 4, 5 (except of Spades), 6, 9 5 points
  • 10 10 points
  • J, Q, K 100 points
  • 7 150 points
  • 2 200 points
  • A, 8 300 points
  • 5 of Spades 500 points
  • Joker 600 points

Players reaching over 2000 points are eliminated from play at the end of the hand, not during it. Thus any penalties assessed during a hand, even if they bump a player over 2000, do not instantly knock him/her out.

If a player reaches 2000 exactly, his/her score is reset at 0.


  • Misdeal – 100 points
  • Looking at hand before dealer finishes – 100 points
  • Recycling discard deck – 100 points first time during hand, 200
    next time, 300 the next, etc.
  • Being caught with unannounced KAPAGA – Draw one card

5 thoughts on “Kapaga

  1. When you play more than one card at a time, do u follow all the cards rules or just the top card?

  2. Jo Mama: I don’t think so. (There is in Uno.)

    My question: if the player to my right plays a 2 of clubs and one of the two cards I pick up is a club, can I play it to complete my turn?
    (The rules as written would seem to say Yes.)

  3. A year plus later, let me rush to say No! Doug Cabot, as viking kapaga transmitter, surely you will agree that the only thing that can go atop a two is another two that you’re holding in your hand. If you have no such protection, then you take your lumps and draw. And no matter what you draw — another two, an eight, a joker, schadenfreude smirks from around the table — there’s nothing else you can do but sit there with what you’re drawn and await your next turn.

    And yes, Jo Mama is thinking of Uno. Kapaga card play, like this beleaguered earth, spins in just one direction.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *