A mock up of the cardistry game playing cards.

The Cardistry Game

*This post is divided into 4 sections: Introduction. Rules and Special Situations. Move cards explained. And Alternative Gameplays*

*Leave a comment if you have any questions or if you just want to express your love ^^ *

The Cardistry Game is a last man standing card game where players must perform cardistry in order to keep on playing. If you fail a cut, you lose cards from the deck you're performing with. If you don't have any more cards, you're out of the game. Last player at the table wins.

Great for your jam sessions, discord gatherings, conventions, solo training and creating!

TranslationDownload the Full Official Rulebook 21 languages here.


Rules. Rules. Rules. Honestly, I don't want to make more rules. We need guidelines, that's true, but not rules. "What to do in case this happens" type of things. And there's quite a LOT of those moments that can rise while playing The Cardistry Game.

But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, the basics! You can download these in the following languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Russian, Polish, Indonesian, Korean, Chinese, Hebrew and many more by following this link !

And there you have them! The basic rules along with every card in the game explained. Now that we have those figured out it's time to move unto the spicy questions!

Special Situations

In no particular order here are answers to questions that I've come across and you will at some point as well. If you meet any other situations and would like an answer to them, feel free to leave us a comment and we'll get back to you with an answer!

  • What do I do if I draw the LINK card but there's only one move card on the table?

Let's see. You have an INTERLOCK card, a HANDS UP card and you've just drawn the LINK card. What do you do? Simple. Draw another card and cover the LINK card. The LINK card only works if there are at least 2 move cards on the table.

  • What do I do if I draw the ALL FOR ONE card and there's nothing underneath it?

Draw another game card and cover the ALL FOR ONE card with it.

  • I've just drawn the RESET card and covered all piles with a new card, but now I have a LINK, DAMAGE and XCM card. What do I do?

Cover the LINK card. If when resetting you encounter a combination of cards that doesn't work, such as "Grip, Grip, Move Card" or "Damage, Damage, Hands Up" cover one of the cards in order to make the combination work. If it still doesn't work, keep drawing cards until you have a combination that works.

  • So, if I get a HANDS UP, LINK and ALL FOR ONE after the reset, which one do I cover?

You cover the All For One because that one doesn't work with no cards underneath. Afterwards, you cover the Link card as well, because that one doesn't work without at least 2 move cards on the table.

  • What happens when you have 2 Special Cards and fail one? How many cards do you remove?

- It depends. There are 3 types of Special Performance Altering Cards: Those which you can fail, those which are harder to fail and those which you fail only if you're out of ideas/time. Sounds stupid, but stick with me.

In the first category we have Clipped, On the Thumb, On the Hand. If during your performance you drop the card from the position it's supposed to be in, then you count the cards in the Clipped game card... pile. (I will say you count the cards, because I assume you know that you must count them, multiply them by 4 and then remove that many cards from the deck you are performing with). If you fail both the flourish and the challenge card (by dropping the card from its appointed position) then you only count the cards in the Special Card pile.

In the second category we have Hands Up, Behind the Back, Eyes Closed, Arms Twisted, Fingers/Elbows Touching. You fail one of these only if you open your eyes, lower your hands, stop touching your fingers etc. .

- If you have a HANDS UP, 3 PACKET CUT and GRIP on the table and you fail the cut because you've lowered your hands, then you will count how many cards are in the HANDS UP pile. But if your hands stay up and you fail the cut, you count how many cards are in the ... exactly, the 3 Packet Cut pile!

- As long as you meet the required challenge during your performance, there should be no reason to assume that you failed the card.

In the third category we have Grip and No Finger cards.

Grip: As long as you begin your move with the appointed grip, you should be good. The only way to fail this card is to never start your performance in the first place. In that case, because you haven't met the Grip card specification, you fail it. Not only that, but if you do not perform, you fail every other card on the table as well. Just saying. It's better to perform and fail than to not perform at all.

No Finger: As long as you never use the appointed finger, you should be good. If during your performance you are spotted using the finger you shouldn't but successfully execute your move, then you fail the No Finger card and count how many cards are in that pile. If you fail the flourish on top of also using your finger, then you fail both cards and you count how many cards are in both.

  • So, what happens if I have the following combo of cards: CLIPPED, ON THE HAND and 4 PACKET CUT and fail the flourish?

- If when you fail you still have a card clipped and another on the back of your hand, you count how many cards are in the 4 Packet Cut pile.

- If the card from the back of your hand falls and you also drop cards during the cut, you only count how many cards are in the ON THE HAND pile. I've covered this in the previous question as well.

- If both cards fall and you also fail the flourish, then you've failed the Special Cards and you count how many cards are in the Special Cards pile. Yep, that situation would suck indeed.

If you guys have met any other special situations, let us know and we will clarify them for you.

The angry cardist speaks: "Just what the fu*k is an XCM move? And about that Spin sh*t. If I rotate a packet, does it count as a spin? And about Swing Cuts and normal arm spreads with no fancy movement - what's all THAT about? Does it count as a move?!

If you've ever asked yourself these questions, rest assure, we shall answer them over here!

XCM: Short for "Xtreme Card Manipulation" is a branch of Cardistry that involves moves that are usually either complex / intricate, hard to perform or include some element of risk to them.

Spread: Spreads are moves where the deck is spread usually in a linear direction. Most spread moves happen on the arms.

Fans: Fans are moves that spread a deck of cards in various ways, typically in a circle. No, a spread is not a fan. Usually the fan must have a circular shape of some sort.

Aerials: Aerials are moves that involve cards or packets of cards being shot or thrown into the air.

Two Handed Cuts: Two-handed cuts or "2H cuts" are moves that are performed using both hands to grip/hold packets of cards. They often utilize one-handed cuts as a part of the move. As long as the cut begins with two hands you can then branch out into one handed movements.

Two Handed Cuts Routine: Combo moves or routines are a subset of cardistry cuts that are often chained together in longer sequences or as parts of different moves. They may not have a huge impact by themselves but have greater value in conjunction with other combo moves. Shortly, it's a sequence of two handed cuts that link with one another. You can also perform different OH Cuts one after the other in each hand.

One Handed Cut: One-handed cuts or "1H cuts" are moves that can be performed alone in one hand. Cardists will often perform one-handed cuts in each hand or use them in longer sequences/combos, which takes us to...

OH Cut Routine: A sequence of connected OH Cuts in one hand or running cuts in both hands.

ISO: Isolations are moves where a card or cards appears stationary while the hands move around it/them.

Spin: Spin moves are flourishes where a card or packet spins during the performance. This can happen in the hands or in the air. There's a lot of debate around Spins and Rotations, if they are one and the same. In The Cardistry Game a rotating packet counts as a spin.

One Card Moves: 1-card moves are moves that use one card only or the main focus of the move is on one card being manipulated.

Packet Cuts: Packet Cuts are flourishes that involve a certain amount of packets which are moved around. You can have a 2 Packet Cut (which are usually done in just one hand) and even an 11 packet cut !

Productions: Typically, productions are considered to be flourishes that produce a four of a kind, such as the four Aces. But, in The Cardistry Game, you can produce either 1 or four cards in order to make the card valid. Usually, a production of just 1 card is called a Pop.

Interlock: Interlock flourishes are moves where your fingers become locked together.

Construction: Constructions or Structures are flourishes that include a 3D shape formation.

Off-Hand: Off-Hand moves are one handed flourishes done with your non-dominant hand or two handed flourishes done from a lefty grip if you're right handed, and a righty grip if you're left handed.

Body Stuff: Body Moves are flourishes that include another part of the body besides your hands as part of them. This can be the arms, legs, head and so on.

Table Stuff: Table moves are flourishes done on the table.

- - - - - - 

If you've noticed that we've missed something, let us know and we will complete the list. If you feel you've got a better definition for any of those moves, let us know and we'll check that out!



If you've watched any of the battles on our Instagram then you know that there's more than just one type of battle. Actually, in the rulebook (which you get with your physical deck) you'll find 4 additional alternative gameplays. If you haven't checked them out, here they are.


If you're having trouble understanding these in English you can find these translated in a bunch of other languages in this post!

But, let's say you've played these versions and would like to try out something else, something different or maybe none of these versions clicked with you yet. No worries, Biz got you covered. Here's a couple other versions of The Cardistry Game that you can play.

1. King of Numbers

0. Remove all Special Cards from the game deck.

1. You choose a number between 1 and 10. If this is your first time playing this version go with a smaller number. Let's say you've decided on 4.

2. Shuffle the game deck. Place 4 face up cards from the deck on the table. Let's assume these cards are INTERLOCK , FAN, SPREAD and SPIN.

3. Each player has 30 seconds to think of ONE MOVE that includes all 4 elements. For example: Scissor Interlock -> Fan -> Spread -> 1 Card Shootout .

4. After both players have successfully performed a flourish, the following cards are placed on top of the previous ones (creating stacks).


You collect points when your opponent fails a move while you don't. If this turn you've successfully performed your move, but your opponent has failed, you collect all the piles from the table. These are your current points. The following turn new piles are created. The player with the most collected game cards at the end of the game deck wins.

If you have no more cards to draw and none of the players have failed, the game is considered a draw, the piles are shuffled well and a new game is started.

If you have no more cards to draw one of you has 4 points and the other 0, the player with the most points wins.


- The game ends when you have no more cards to draw from the game deck.

- You may not execute separate moves one after the other. That completely defeats the purpose of this game.

- A routine (which is technically one move after the other) that includes all elements is valid only if the routine has a nice flow and the flow of the routine is not broken.

- A move is considered finished once the deck is squared.

- You can perform one handed flourishes with both hands that include different elements.


Birger and I played a couple rounds of this game on his live twitch which you can check out here!

2. King of Numbers Advanced

What makes this version special is the addition of the Special Cards. We'll understand this version better if we take an example.

Let's say we have 4 cards again: ONE HANDED CUT, CLIPPED, BEHIND THE BACK and XCM. Special Cards do not need to be applied to all the cuts. You pair them. So, if you perform an XCM cut with a card CLIPPED between your fingers and a ONE HANDED CUT executed BEHIND YOUR BACK, then you've successfully used all elements. The only thing left is to somehow connect all of these into one fluid routine or one single cut.

What? It's not supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be challenging haha. Don't forget guys, it's out of special situations like these that great memories while jamming or interesting ideas come out of and that's why we've created this game in the first place :) !

3. Blitzkrieg: Fastest Leads Version

One player, let's say "The Referee" calls out the cards for everyone. All participants perform the flourish that is called out. As soon as the first person finishes their flourish the referee calls out the second flourish, even if all the other players have not finished their flourishes yet.

This version of the gameplay will really turn the party spirit up for everyone and motivate players to find quick flourishes that achieve what type of card is called out (Fan, One Handed Cut, etc.).

Normal "Blitzkrieg" rules still apply. You cannot repeat your own flourishes. If you fail you stop there for that round. A time limit is set (such as 1 minute per round). First player that reaches 20 points wins. 

4. Blitzkrieg: Tag Version

Players form teams. For this example let's assume there are 2 teams of 2 players. The referee calls out the first card and only 1 member from each team performs a flourish. The referee calls out the next card when the first player finishes their flourishes, even if the other player hasn't finished performing. The other teammate execute the next flourish. This goes on until the time runs out, passing a flourish from one to the other. The interesting thing happens when one of you fails.

If a teammate fails the other teammate can perform a move instead of them. As soon as they finish performing the failed cut, they will have to perform the following called out card as well. In this moment the team has to come up with flourishes that allow them to catch up to the other players as the referee will keep calling cards.

If both players fail the same cut, they cannot perform anymore for that round and must wait until their opponents finish theirs.

5. No Cards Version

In this version of the game you use anything else but cards. Wallet, lego, fruits or vegetables, photos , you name it. The weirder the shape the more entertaining it will be!

The rules for the game are the same as with the Standard Version, just that you remove from the deck all the Special Cards and instead of removing cards you write down on a piece of paper the points every player makes. 4 points for every card in a pile that you have failed. First to get to 52 loses.

Mario Lopez, FISM World Champion, and I have played this version of the game on instagram live! You can check it over here.

6. Cards Down 

- Check gameplay here !

A version where the players attack each other, every time you're performing a successful move the other player must remove 4 cards. As you keep playing your deck and your opponent's gets thinner and thinner, making it more challenging to perform.

7. Speedrun 

- Check gameplay here !

Here the players must perform all 34 type moves as fast as they can while being timed. I've managed to do all 34 cards in 4 minutes and 45 seconds. This is also the first version that allows ranking of the players.

8. Puzzle 

- Check gameplay here !

Here cards are placed adjacent to one another. Players have to perform moves from a line, be it horizontal or vertical. The damage card in this gamplay takes the role of a BOMB, removing all cards adjacent to it.

9. Follow the Leader 

- Check gameplay here !

The deck is shuffled and one random card is placed face up next to the deck. This card is the leader and will influence all other cards to come. For exmaple, if the leader card is a "One Handed Cut" then all following cards (ISOs, Displays, etc.) all have to be one handed cuts.

10. Face Up Face Down: Team Game 

- Check gameplay here !

This is a team game. The Cardistry Game is split into 2 halves. One team takes a half, the other takes another. You and your teammate then split your packet into half face up and half face down cards, which you then shuffle together. REALLY SHUFFLE. One of you will perform face up cards, the other face down ones. After successfully performing a move, if you've performed a face up card, you turn this face down and place it to the right. If you've performed a pace down card you turn that face up and place it to the left. The reason you do this is because in the event that you fail, each cardist will perform slightly different moves the next time.

In case one of you fails their cut or performs miserably, all cards are put back together, shuffled, and the team starts from the beginning.

First team to finish their deck wins.

11. Spin the Bottle 

- Check gameplay here !

Cards games are places in 5 piles on a round board. Other things are on the board as well, such as "Do a 5 second plank while making one handed cuts", "Take a shot", "Truth", "Dare" and "Acting moment.". The player spins an arrow to arrive at a packet or special zone.

If you fall on a packet and perform a move successfully, you then move the top card from the pile on top or bellow another pile on the board.

The player that performs the last move from a pile wins.

12. Grab'em All 

- Check gameplay here !

All card games are placed one next to each other on the table. Players take turns performing 1 move that combines as many card games as possible. For example, during your turn you can perform a One Handed Cut that is a Display without using your Pinky while holding your Hands Up. That would be 4 points. After your performance you remove the card games that match your performance and place them on your side.

When all cards have been gathered, each player counts their stack. The player with most cards wins.

13. Backup 

- Check gameplay here !

Each player splits their performance deck into 2 packets (you decide how many in each). 

When you fail, the player switches their deck with the backup one, removes the appropriate amount of cards and continues performing with that deck.

Each fail gives your opponent a point. When your backup deck is finished, your opponent receives 5 points.

When one of you is left without cards the game finishes. The person with most points wins. Note that in this version it does not matter who is left without cards first, but rather who fails less. This gives the chance for interesting strategies and sneaky plots.

14. Cardistry War 

- Check gameplay here !

- Each player for himself. You can choose to attack any player or recover cards that you have previously lost. The last person standing wins.

- Each successfully performed move is worth 4 points (which you can use to attack someone or recover cards).

- You start with 1 game packet. You can choose to create a new packet or place the new drawn card on top of an existing pile. There can be a maximum of only 3 piles.

- When you fail you remove cards as usual (by counting the cards in the pile and multiplying them by 4).

- This gameplay allows for sneaky tactics, alliances and a great deal of fun!

15. Building 

- Played with LingNemesis on her livestream.

You start with 4 cards. Every successfully performed flourish brings you 4 more cards. If you fail a flourish you do not take cards (nor remove). The person that recovers their entire deck wins.

16. Cardistry Bootcamp 

- Check gameplay here !

A card is drawn and each player must perform a move of that type until a player fails. So you have to keep performing on and on and on the same move until one of you drops a card. This version here is perfect for practicing with friends and feels a lot like a true gym workout for the hands haha.

17. Rock, Paper, Scissor

- Check gameplay here !

Each cardist chooses a flourish to represent one of the symbols. The flourish chosen must also resemble in some manner the symbol.

At the same time, both flourishers start performing their chosen flourish.

Each player can look at the other player's flourish and if they realize what symbol it represents, they can switch to another flourish in order to win. The switch happens without squaring the deck or interrupting the flow of the cut.

Best out of 3 wins.

18. Attack, Block and Deflect

- Check gameplay here !

This is a game played in 3 or more players.

Cards from the Cardistry Game are dealt down on the table as usual, giving each player 3 actions per turn. Alternatively, you can choose to have only 1 pile, limiting each player to 1 action per turn.

Each person can choose between 3 different actions. You can attack anybody by performing a flourish. Block an incoming attack by copying the flourish that was performed by the cardists attacking you. And you can deflect an incoming attack by performing the same move someone has when they've attacked another player (not you).

Last player at the table wins.

19. Branch 

- Check gameplay here !

The game begins with an original pile. Each new card can be placed on top of an existing pile or can be used to branch out an existing flourish. Meaning, if you start with a "Four Packet Cut" you can use a new card to branch that into a "Display". So during your turn you must perform a "Four Packet Cut Display" or "A Four Packet Cut" linked to a "Display".

When a flourish is failed, remove cards equal to the number of game cards present in the pile of the failed move. So, if you fail a "One Handed Cut" and there are 5 cards in that pile, you have to remove 5 x 4 = 20 cards.


I honestly cannot wait for all you to get your magnetic box with your deck of cards and start testing some of these versions out. Once more people have a game deck I will start playing games with them as well and who knows how many ideas there are out there when every player has a Cardistry Game deck!

 - Biz and Herdiant love you

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