Rummikub is still available today though it’s heyday was the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when it was not only the best selling game in the United States (in 1977) but was also Israel’s biggest export game. Though saying that I don’t know any other games Israel export – unless hummus is a game?
I never played Rummikub until I was in my early teens, but you didn’t need to be that old. The board itself does look a bit intimidating. It is all about numbers – so there are many tiles (like in scrabble) except instead of letters on the tiles, the are numbers.
It was invented by the most excellently named Ephraim Hertzano, a Romanian-born Jew. He hand-made the first versions in the backyard of his home and sold the first sets door-to-door and on a consignment basis at small shops.
The game combines elements of rummy, dominoes, scrabble and chess and is marketed as a “numbers strategy game”
To play, each player gets 14 randomly chosen tiles, each with a different number on. To go the first time, you must have a 'run' that totals 30 or more. A run is any row of consecutive numbers or the same number but in different colours. A run must have at least three tiles in it. The object of the game is to get rid of all your tiles.
Only basic addition is needed, but it’s a good game to get children into simple maths, I’m sure my mum used scrabble to get me into words! The sly dawg! Rummikub is certainly better and easier than scrabble!
On your opening move, if you don't have a total of 30 or more, you have to pick up a tile until you can total at least 30. Thereafter, you have to pick up 3 tiles if you can't go.
Hertzano published an 'Official Rummikub Book', in 1978 which was amazingly a best seller. It noted that there were American, Sabra and International versions of the game.