Spoons Card Game: 101 Dalmations (Friendly Games, 2008) is a licensed version of a classic card game, Spoons, of which there are many variants. The key aspects of all spoons games are fast-paced card drawing and discarding, collecting certain sets of cards, and, when one player has made his or her goal, the mad-dash grab for spoons laid out in the middle of the table, which will leave one player without a spoon and eliminated from the game.
This 101 Dalmations version has one of the simplest rule sets there can be. It consists of a standard card deck, 13 cards in each of 4 colors. There are no face cards – they are printed with different images of various dalmations from Disney’s 101 Dalmations, and simply numbered 1 – 13. In the place of spoons the game comes with five 12 cm-long acrylic dog bones, labeled with the name of the game.
Each deal consists of 4 cards, and the dealer begins each round by drawing a card, then passing one card face down to his or her right. The next player picks up that card, and passes another to the right, and so on around the table. The final player will discard to a separate discard pile, and the process repeats. As soon as a player has gotten 4-of-a-kind (the same number, not color), he or she lays down their cards and grabs a bone. The rest of the players should also reach for a spoon as soon as possible. Since there should always be one bone less than the number of players, one player will always be left without a bone. That player is eliminated, and a new hand is dealt until after the final round, when there is one player left standing – the winner!
This game is very simple, and because of its theme it appeals to small kids and fans 101 Dalmations fans. It is recommended by the manufacturer for 6 and up, but any child able to read numbers can play because the rules are so straightforward. There is some strategy involved, so older kids will do better. For example, watching the discard pile is a good way to guess at what might still be coming; younger kids won’t understand this, but it is worth teaching (never too early to learn inferential logic!).
I recommend this game to any lover (or collector) of 101 Dalmations who also likes card games, but only if they’re prepared to play with children. It could be made more challenging for older kids and adults by adding variations from other spoons games; unfortunately the rules don’t come with any suggestions for doing so.