Picky Packrats

Game Status: 
Play Time: 
5-8 min per player

In Picky Packrats you are packrats arranging the treasures you have collected in your middens (nests); adding treasures that you find by raiding the house or other packrat middens. You are very particular and want everything "just so." Unfortunately, packrats are forgetful, so you need to remind yourself of what treasures you have already packed away, while you try to arrange them in your midden to near perfection. When you really like where the treasures are, you can cement them into your midden. Once you or another packrat has cemented everything in your midden, you compare middens. The pickiest packrat; the one with the most organized midden, wins!

Picky Packrats is a small deck, tableau building and set collection game for 2 - 3 players. 2 Decks can be combined for 4, 5, or 6-player games. A round takes 5 - 8 minutes per player and 1 - 3 rounds are usually played for a complete game. The objective in each round is to match cards of the same point value (sets) or color (collections) in the rows and columns of a 3 x 3 grid. Cards that are not matched score their point value against you and color collections score -3. The player with the lowest score wins.
Each player is dealt 6 cards face down and then takes turns drafting 3 more cards from a common pool of cards ("raiding the house"). They arrange the cards to form a 3 x 3 grid (their "Midden" or "Nest") in any order they want without looking at the face down cards. The players then take turns taking up to 2 actions per turn to reveal, conceal, move, lock, and swap their cards with each other and with the pool of cards. Play continues until one player has either locked or revealed all the cards in their grid. The other players get one last action before scores are tallied.
Game Type: 
Game Category: 
Play Summary: 
Players: 2-3 players with one deck. 4-6 players with two decks and a revised setup.
First Player: First player is the person who has had the most recent encounter with a rodent or the loser of the last game.
Winning the Game: Score the fewest points in a number of rounds determined in advance (usually 3).
Each Round:
Construct the deck based on the number of players according to the Game Setup Table.
Deal each player a tableau of 6 cards, leaving them face down on the table. Turn over the top 3 cards of the remaining deck into a row in the center of the table. Starting with the first player, take 1 card from the center row and add it to your tableau face up. Replace the card with another from the deck to the center row. Continue around the table clockwise until each player has taken 3 cards. There will be a few cards remaining in the deck. These are removed from the round without looking at them.
Each player arranges their cards into a 3 x 3 grid in whatever arrangement they wish, but without looking at their face-down cards.
Basic Play:
Each player can do any 2 actions on their turn with two exceptions: The first player of each game can only take 1 action and after one player has initiated the end game, all other players get 1 final action.
The actions available are:
  • Seek/Search/Scrutinize: Peek at, Reveal, or Conceal any card in their grid.
  • Scout/Scavenge: Conceal a card to use its action.
  • Secure/Cement: Lock a card, a row, or a column.
  • Scurry/Frenzy: Conceal 2 cards with the same point value to use any available action in any player's grid.

Additional rules:

  • Locked cards cannot be manipulated by either player.
    • However, Concealed cards that are locked will be revealed and scored at the end of the round.
  • Wild cards can be used as any number and any color to form Sets and Collections, declared at scoring.
  • Cards that are moved or traded as a result of an Action remain in their previous Revealed/Concealed state.

End of Game

  • Once one player has revealed all cards in their grid, their round is finished.
    • If both players have locked Concealed cards, the game ends as soon as neither player has a valid move.
  • The other player gets to take one more action (not a full turn).
  • The other player reveals any concealed cards.
  • The round is scored.
  • The player with the lowest score wins.



  • Wild Cards: Wilds count as any number or color desired when scoring any set or collection.
  • Locks: Locks have no impact on scoring.

Score each hand by totaling the following in order:

  1. Sets: Cards in a Set score 0. A set is any row or column all of the same number.
  2. Singles: Cards not in any Set score their point value (0 – 6).
  3. Collections: Any Collection of all the same color in any row or column scores -3.
  4. Unused Wilds: Wilds that are not used in any Set count as 5 points. Wilds that are not used in any Set count as 5 points. (A Wild that is not used at all will end up scoring 10 points.)
Packrats picking through their middens, trying to make the perfect collection.
  • Drafting = raiding the house.
  • Peeking/Revealing = reminding yourself of what is in your midden.
  • Concealing (to spend action) = reminding yourself of something you wanted to do.
  • Locking = incorporating/cementing the item into your midden.
Setup Time: 
2 min
1 deck of 33 cards: 
Point Cards: 7 cards with point values 0 to 6 in 4 different colors
Wild Cards: 5
The decks and setup for different player counts are as follows
2 Players (24 cards): 
Point Cards: 1 each of 3 different colors (21)
Wild Cards: 3
Pool: 3
Discards: 3
3 Players (33 cards): Option 1
Point Cards: 1 each of 4 different colors (28)
Wild Cards: 5
Pool: 3
Discards: 3
3 Players (33 cards): Option 2
Point Cards: 1 each of 4 different colors (28)
Wild Cards: 4
Pool: 3
Discards: 2
Higher player counts can be achieved by combining 2 decks together as described.
4 Players (42 cards): 
Point Cards: 2 each of 3 different colors 
Wild Cards: 5
Pool: 4
Discards: 5
5 Players (48 cards): Option 1
Point Cards: 2 each of 4 different colors, remove the 0 cards 
Wild Cards: 5
Pool: 5
Discards: 3
5 Players (49 cards): Option 2
Point Cards: 2 each of 3 different colors, 1 each of 1 color 
Wild Cards: 5
Pool: 5
Discards: 4
6 Players (56 cards): 
Point Cards: 2 each of 4 different colors 
Wild Cards: 5
Pool: 5
Discards: 2
Intended Market:
This game is primarily intended as a "Next Step" game, particularly for people who enjoy the traditional family card games, but are looking for a little more strategy and less luck.
Due to the very limited components (especially if the locks are just cards instead of tokens or a step up to small sheet cardboard tokens like in Saboteur 2), the game could sell for a low cost.