Manipulation Rummy

Also known as Tile Rummy, Rummikub, Rummy-O, etc.

Kind of a RummyTypeGame, except with tiles instead of cards, and with shared melds (3 or more tiles in a run or 3 or 4 of a kind).

The complete set of tiles consists of tiles in four different colors with each color containing the number 1 through 13, twice each. There are also two wild tiles. This is equivalent to two decks of cards with two jokers. Cards can be used instead of tiles, but tiles are much easier to manipulate.

Each player starts with 14 random tiles. During a turn, a player can place one or more tiles onto the table or they can draw another tile. At the end of a player's turn, all tiles on the table must form legal melds. The object of the game is to get rid of all your tiles.

The standard rules have various additional complications detailing points-to-start, points awarded at the end, proper use of wild tiles, etc. While I'm sure these rules add various interesting aspects to the game, my wife and I typically ignore them and play a simplified two-player variant using the following rules, in addition to the standard rules described in the preceding paragraph:

The fascination of manipulation rummy is in the manipulation of tiles on the board to form legal melds. At its most interesting, playing a single tile may require the rearranging of several melds. The mental challenge is in keeping track in one's head of all the various manipulations required to make a play. One must often explore many paths of manipulation, separating the dead-ends from the successful paths until a complete, valid transformation reveals itself. These paths of manipulation often branch, overlap one-another, and use the same territory in multiple ways, so pulling off a play that transforms the whole board is quite rewarding, and is akin to solving a Robert Abbott LogicMaze? (see

This kinship to logic mazes makes me think that rummy melds might make good logic-maze rules. I haven't explored this in depth, but it might be possible to arrange a bunch of tiles into a rectangle, declare one tile the start and one the finish, and try to navigate the maze using the rule that you can travel from one tile to another only in a straight line that passes through other tiles that make a valid meld with the first and last tile. Non-meld tiles might be in the same line, but are ignored. So one can travel along a row of tiles that looks like this: 1-8-11-2-6-3 because 1-2-3 is a run.

I don't know that I have the time or skills to create such a logic maze, but if anyone is intrigued enough by this idea to create one, I would love to explore it.

Domino Variant

Another variation that we've tried uses dominoes instead of regular numbered tiles. In this variation, a legal domino meld is two legal melds in one, with each half of all the dominoes in the meld forming one of the two melds. For example: (1/2, 2/2, 3/2) is a run and a three-of-a-kind; (1/3, 2/2, 3/1) is two runs (running opposite directions). We've only played this a few times using two sets of double-six dominoes, and it seems to work okay. It might be worth using three or more identical sets rather than two, to give a bit more breathing room, given that many melds (like the second example) can use up two identical dominoes.



Manipulation Rummy rules from

Rummikub rules from

Official Rummikub rules from