Joker Bomb: Bomberman with Cards


I based this game off the classic videogame Bomberman developed by HudsonSoft in 1983 and mashed it up with a mini-game puzzle from Return to Zork, another classic game. It is tons of fun and here are the rules to play in card form.

Requires: 1 deck of cards
# of Players : 2 – 3
Playing time: 2 – 5 minutes


Remove 7, 8, 9, and 10 from a deck of cards.

Take the Jokers out – if they’re different colours, you can use them as your Bomberman. If they’re not different, one person should use a joker and the other the box for the cards. Alternatively you can use miniatures or tokens from a board game.

Shuffle the remaining cards (A to 6, Jacks, Queens, and Kings) and deal out a 5×5 grid of face down card spaces the players can move around on like a game board. This makes the battle arena.

For Two players, deal three cards to each player for their starting hand.
For Three Players, deal two cards to each player for their starting hand.

Put the rest of the cards on the side of the battlefield.


In Joker Bomb, your goal is to blow up the board and trap your opponents so they cannot play a card. As long as you’re playing cards you are in the game. You are invincible to the explosions themselves.


Your Joker starts off the board. When you play your first card you must determine where you are entering the board from. Pretend there is an extra set of spaces around the outside of the board and decide where your Joker was in those spaces and then enter the battle arena.

When it’s your turn, play a card from your hand. If it’s a number you move that many spaces in any direction, even diagonal. If it’s a face card it will explode where you’re standing. There will be more on the explosions later.


If you move, then you must move on top of cards from one adjacent card to the next one. You cannot hop over any holes in the board and players themselves are considered a hole for the sake of movement. You are encouraged to move to new locations unless you have to move back to an old location. This means if you play a six but can only move onto an “island” of one card then you just go 1-2…6! and stay on the one card. The important part is that you played a number card.

When you end your movement, flip over the card you landed on and reveal it to everyone. If it’s a number, put it into your hand. If not, then it is a bomb and it explodes! If there is any deck left, you can draw a card face down from the deck and put it in your hand.

Bombs and Explosions!

Whether you play a bomb from your hand or your step on one on the board, the bombs are treated the same. You look at your Joker and the bomb explodes the spaces next to it in a pattern based on the type of the bomb.

If you explode a Jack Bomb it explodes as an X, removing the four diagonal cards next to your Joker.

If you explode a Queen Bomb it explodes as a Plus +, removing the four orthogonally adjacent cards next to your Joker.

If you explode a King Bomb you have a choice of X or Plus.

  • X: remove all cards in the diagonals extending out to the edge of the board, ignoring holes causing mass destruction!
  • Plus: remove all cards left and right of your Joker and above and below extending out to the edge of the board, ignoring holes and dividing the arena into smaller islands!

Discard the bomb and, if there is any deck left, draw a card face down from the deck.

Reminder: The explosions don’t harm the Jokers but they limit their movement by removing the cards they can move on.

Aces Rebuild!

Aces are a special card that will allow you to bridge your way to safety. Aces allow you to both:

  • Move one space AND
  • Add up to 3 cards from the deck face down back anywhere onto the battle arena

You can do these in any order. If there is no deck, too bad! You only get to move one space.

Ending the Game

Keep playing cards and destroying the battle arena until players cannot play cards. When a player cannot play a card they must pass (i.e. because it’s a number and there are no card spaces to move to or they have no cards in their hand). If it gets back to your turn and all your opponents passed then you win the game!

Example: Joe, Sheila, and Sky are playing. Joe plays a bomb. Sheila passes. Sky passes. Joe wins.

Additional Notes

Played cards go into a discard and the deck is never reshuffled. It is supposed to run out and run out FAST!

If you play a bomb on your first turn, decide where your Joker is just off the board and trigger the bomb from there. Your Joker’s position is now decided and locked until you play your next card and move them out of there. Be careful playing a bomb on your first turn, it is easy for your opponents to quickly trap you so you cannot even enter the arena!

In a three player game, it is possible for a player that has passed to re-enter the game if one of the other players uses an Ace to build a bridge to that player’s Joker. Then if their hand has a legal card to play they can start moving again. This is handy if two beginners are playing against an expert player.

Some Variations

Ranged Attacks
Try swapping out two of the Kings for a 9 and a 10.

9’s are like Jacks except they blow up cards that are two spaces away. but do not touch the card adjacent to the Joker.

10’s are like Queens except they blow up cards that are two spaces away, but do not touch the cards adjacent to the Joker.

4-6 Players on a MEGA-Board

Use two decks and make a 7×7 board. Then you can play with up to 6 players!