Play Spite and Malice

Get rid of all your cards in this version of Cat and Mouse.

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Spite and Malice game info

  • Family: Competitive Solitaire Games
  • Decks: 3 decks (156 cards)
  • Game time: Long
  • Also known as: Cat and Mouse, Skip-bo

How to play Spite and Malice

Table of contents


The object of Spite and Malice is to get rid of your all your cards in your goal pile by placing them on the playing piles. The first player to empty their goal pile wins.


Spite and Malice can be played with 2 to 4 players. In most computer versions, such as the one we feature here, the game is played with two players.

Layout & deal

Spite and Malice is played with three decks of 52 cards each, hence 156 cards in total. Each player has their own goal pile, 4 discard piles and a hand with maximum 5 cards. There are 4 common playing piles and a common draw pile. At the start, a certain amount of cards are dealt to each player's goal pile, face-down. The top card of the goal piles is turned face-up. The rest of the cards goes into the common draw pile, face-down.


  • At the start of each turn, cards from the common draw pile are dealt until the player has 5 cards in his hand.
  • Then, the player plays cards from his goal pile, hand or discard piles to the playing piles.
  • Playing piles must start with an Ace and are built in ascending order up to a Queen (A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q). Suits of the cards don’t matter in Spite and Malice.
  • Cards that can be moved to the playing piles are the top card of the goal pile, the top cards of the 4 discard piles, and any card in your hand.
  • Kings are wild and can be played on the playing piles to substitute any other value.
  • The turn finishes when a card is played from the hand to one of the discard piles.


  • Focus on your goal pile: Always focus on playing the top card of your goal pile, no other moves really matter. Avoid playing cards just because you can play them.
  • Keep an eye on the opponent's goal pile: Avoid playing cards which might help your opponent play the top card of his goal pile, except if it serves you as well.
  • Use your hand to reach your goal card: Cards in your hand are always playable, so the most helpful hand cards are the cards right before your goal card. For example, if you have a 10 as goal card, keep cards like 7-8-9 in your hand.
  • Clear your hand: Playing all 5 cards in your hand so you get 5 new cards is a good move, as long as it doesn't help your opponent.
  • Use Kings wisely: Kings are wild in Spite and Malice and hence are very helpful to reach your goal card, but remember they can also be used to prevent your opponent from playing his goal card.
  • Play cards to the discard piles wisely: Prefer playing high cards to the discard piles over low cards. Ideally you make piles with cards of the same rank because this avoids burying any card. If you cannot play a matching card, prefer playing low cards on top of high cards instead of high cards on low cards. Fill all discard piles before putting cards on top of each other, but reserve some piles for high cards only so you avoid burying low rank cards.

Hopefully you can use some of these tips on how to win at Spite and Malice in your next game.


With origins dating back until the mid-1800s, people have been playing Spite and Malice for a very long time. Originally from Europe, its popularity in the United States rose after the First World War. A variation of Spite and Malice called Flinch was released in 1905. The commercial version of Spite and Malice called Skip-Bo was released in 1967.


The most common version of Spite and Malice is the two player version where you play against a computer opponent. There is a commercial variation of Spite and Malice called Skip-Bo. Cat and Mouse is mostly a synonym for Spite and Malice, but can have some slight variations in its rules, e.g. 2 decks instead of 3, the amount of cards dealt to the goal pile, and 3 playing piles instead of 4. Although mostly known as two player game, Spite and Malice can be played with 3 or 4 players. Read this guide for the rule variations.


Are Kings wild in spite and malice? Yes, Kings are wild in Spite and Malice and can substitute any other value.

How many decks do you need for spite and malice? To play Spite and Malice, you need 3 decks of 52 cards each, hence 156 cards in total.

Can you play spite and malice with 3 players? Yes, Spite and Malice can be played with more than 2 players, if some rule variations are taken into account. The number of cards dealt to the goal piles is 17 for 3 players and 13 for 4 players. The game is played in clockwise direction. The player with the highest card on his goal pile after the deal starts.

When was spite and malice invented? Spite and Malice is believed to be invented in Europe in the mid-1800s.

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