David Parlett's Gourmet Games


A family card game for 2-5 players

Chicken Out! is a themed up version of one of my Original Card Games first published under the title Bravado. It was first published in 2015 by International Hobby World, for distribution in Russia and eastern European countries, with a change of theme and title from chickens to hares. In 2017 it was published by Piatnik in several western European countries (rulesheet in six languages, not including English), and by Gibsons Games in the UK and Irish Republic (in English!) The illustrations on this page are from the Piatnik edition, designed by cartoonist Rooobert [sic] Bayer.


There are 60 cards. Of these, 50 are chicken cards numbered 0 to 11, each showing the appropriate number of chickens. The chicken numbers come in two colours, black and red. Black numbers must always be added; red ones may sometimes be subtracted. The other 10 are fox cards. Foxes are jokers and interfere with the chickens.


Shuffle the cards thoroughly and deal them all round, one at a time, till everyone has the same number. You each hold your cards face down in a pile without looking at their faces.


To be the first to play out all your cards.


Dealer’s left-hand neighbour starts the first round by playing two cards from the top of their pile and announcing the total they make. (For example, if they are 3 and 8, announce “Eleven”.) Play then and always passes to the left. You each in turn play play the top card of your pile, add its value to the previous total, and announce the new count. But:

Keep going till one player either busts (brings it over 21), makes exactly 21, or chickens out. Here's what happens in each case:


If you bring the count to over 21 you must pick up all the cards just played, place them at the bottom of your pile and end your turn. The next in turn to play starts a new count by playing two cards from the top of their pile. (Not just one, even if it’s a “Fox = 20” card.)


If you make exactly 21 you pick up all the cards involved and throw them away. You then yourself start a new series yourself by playing from your hand, one by one, as many cards as you like until you either stop, bust, or make 21.

Chicken out

If the count is 11 or more and you fear busting, you may 'chicken out' by picking up the cards so far played and placing them at the bottom of your pile. You then start a new series yourself by playing from your hand, one by one, as many cards as you like until you either stop, bust, or make 21.

Going out and scoring

As soon as one player goes out the others keep playing till the current round of cards is taken. The player who went out wins. If more than two play, anyone else who goes out comes second. Third and other positions depend on how many cards player have remaining in hand - the fewer, the better.

Optional extras (ignore them if you like)

  1. Every time you lay an egg (= play a zero) you must shuffle your cards before continuing. (This helps to randomise the gene pool.)
  2. If you play exactly the same numeral as the immediately preceding card, and don’t bust or make 21, you may play another card. (A 'Same' fox doesn'tcount as such, unless it follows another 'Same' fox”.)
  3. With more than four players the game may play too fast. To slow it down, when you make exactly 21 you don’t throw the cards out but pass th them to your left-hand neighbour, who must add them to their hand.

There are four black and four red 7s, and two of each colour of other numerals 3 to 11. There are three each of 0 and 1, but black only - no reds. (Why would you want to subtract either number?) Four of the fox cards are "same as preceding card" and there are two each of the others.