Criticality is a game inspired by the principles of self-organised crtitcality and the rise and fall of power structures during the Second Dark Ages. The aim of Criticality is to score as more points than the players. At the beginning of the game the players agree on a target, typically 1000-10000.


Players: 2+

Deck: Ace to 10. Large or infinite decks preferable

Basic play: Each player begins with 10 cards

Players draw up to 10 cards from the infinite deck and cast off as many cards as they want.

Initial tabling: the first player to table must lay down three sets.

Each player takes turns drawing cards and adding to tabled sets until a collapse is triggered. After a collapse each player must choose 10 cards from their hand to go towards the winner’s pool.

Play continues until the predetermined amount is reached.


Sets: Sets must have a minimum of three cards and a can follow a number of different patterns: all of a kind, sequential, suit, prime numbers only, pi (3.141592653)

Sets “collapse” when they reach 10.

The height limit of the sets is dictated by how many sets are on the table. Ie if there are seven sets on the table then they can only go to seven cards high.

Thus an avalanche can be triggered by collapsing one set which causes a chain reaction of collapses amongst the smaller sets.

Eg, if there are 8 sets on the table, two with 8 cards in them, and a player adds two cards to one set to trigger its collapse, as there are now only 7 sets on the table, all the sets with more than 7 cards also collapse and the cards are added to the player’s winnings.


The strategy of Criticality involves luck, and a balanced strategy to manuevre the other players to table their cards so you can collapse the piles and collect the cards. Timing and confidence are key.