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How to Play CIVIO

There are a variety of ways to play CIVIO - A Civil Rights Game based on the age and gaming experience of the players...

About the game


Playing instructions

Animated quick tutorial (req. Flash)

Other ways to play:

Research the CIVIO cases and laws

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CIVIO (Easy Play Version)

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How to Play CIVIO™ (Easy Play Version)

CIVIO, a civil rights game, is an easy to learn and play strategy card game that explores the relationship of issues, freedoms, laws, amendments, and Supreme Court cases that have both strengthened and reduced civil liberties.

You are an intern at a law firm specializing in civil rights. Using a handful of cards you are in a race against other players to combine these cards into matching pairs to earn points. The more points you earn, the higher your ranking. In time, you could become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court!

The Object of the Game

The first player to place face up all of his or her cards into matching pairs calls out "CIVIO!" At that point, all players add up their scores. Every face up card with a star in the upper right corner is worth one point. The first player to go out gets two extra points. After a player wins the round, all the cards are shuffled again and the next round begins. Players can play as many rounds as they choose, as their rank increases from intern to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  

Shuffling and Dealing

The dealer shuffles the cards and deals each player seven cards face down. The next card is placed face up to form the beginning of the discard pile. The remaining cards, called the supply, are placed face down next to the discard pile.


The first player draws one card from either the supply or the top of the discard pile. The player then finds any pairs of matching cards in his or her hand, and lays those pairs out face up for the other players to see.  If a player has no matches to discard, he or she must continue drawing from the draw pile until a matching pair is found, and shown. After showing all matching pairs, the player may discard one remaining card face up, onto the discard pile. Play continues to the left until one player goes out.

Finding CIVIO™ Matches

Items that can be matched are:  Case and Law names, Freedom icons, Amendment numbers, and Issues. Here’s where to look on case cards to find matching items. Law cards, issue cards, freedom cards and amendment cards are easier to scan quickly. Case cards have the most opportunities for matching.

 Here are some example pairs of cards that match to help you learn how to build matching pairs.


Griswold v Connecticut and Mapp v Ohio are a match since they both have the 4th Amendment listed, and they both have Fair Procedures and Privacy freedom icons.

 US v O’Brien and Tinker v Des Moines match in two ways. They both refer to the issue of Censorship/National Security and they both have a Freedom of Expression icon.

Attacking and Overturning with Law Cards

Discarding law cards gives you the ability to attack another player. If you discard a Law card with an attack on it (rather than use it as part of a matching pair), you announce this to the player you are attacking, and you and the other player must deal with the attack immediately.

If the other player has a Law card that overturns that attack, the player simply reveals that Law card, and the attack is over. The player who was attacked does not discard his or her OVERTURN card, but only reveals the card. Normal play then continues.

If the attacking card is not overturned, the other player suffers the effect of the attack as follows: 

  • If you attacked with Lose Turn, the other player loses a turn. (The next player may only take the Lose Turn card if it can be used as part of a matching pair.)
  • If you attacked with Confiscate and Arrest, you take any card from any matching pair belonging to the other player. Then place the other half of that pair onto the discard pile (covering up the attack card), and normal play continues.

The Cards

Issue Cards

Issue cards specify issues over which legal battles have been fought.

Law Cards

Law cards specify laws that may affect civil rights. An example is the "Jim Crow" Laws card. A Law card includes the name of the law (along with its date), a picture, a short description, and one or more issues that the law affects. Law cards also include either an attack, or an overturn that counters an attack.

Case Cards

Case cards represent Supreme Court decisions. A Case card includes the name and date of the case, a picture representing the case, and a brief description of the decision. If any constitutional amendments are strengthened by this case, their numbers are listed on the card. Below the description is a plus (+) column, which lists previous cases and freedoms strengthened by the decision, and a minus (-) column, which lists previous cases and freedoms weakened by the decision. Finally, the bottom of the Case card lists one or more issues related to the case.

Freedom Cards

A Freedom card represents a freedom guaranteed to us by the Constitution, either directly by the Bill of Rights or other amendments, or indirectly based on Supreme Court decisions. A Freedom card includes a name (e.g., Religion, Privacy, Press) and a picture portraying the freedom.

Amendment Cards

An Amendment card represents a constitutional amendment. The card includes the number of the amendment, a brief description of the rights protected by the amendment, and a brief description of government actions that are prohibited by the amendment.

The Marbury v Madison Wild Card represents the landmark 1803 Supreme Court decision that declared that every law is subject to the Constitution. This decision created the process of judicial review, by which an unconstitutional law can be overturned by the courts. This card matches any other card.


By accumulating points from each round, players can determine their current ranking.

Intern 0-5 points
Law Clerk 6-10 points
Lawyer (2nd chair) 11-20 points
Lawyer (1st chair)     21-30 points
Judge  31-40 points
Appellate Court Judge  41-60 points
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court  61-80 points
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court  81 + points

More Ways To Play

Printed advanced-level game instructions are included with the game. Additional versions of game instructions for other ways to play CIVIO, descriptions of each case and law in the CIVIO deck, and suggested teaching activities, are available on our web site at:

PDF version of this document

Copyright and Trademark Notice

The CIVIO game, card design, game rules, and all images are copyright protected and may not be duplicated or scanned, or stored or distributed electronically without written permission from Reach And Teach. Reach And Teach and CIVIO are registered trademarks.

The CIVIO cards were manufactured on recycled paper with earth-friendly soy ink products by an employee-owned union labor cooperative. Instructions were printed on recycled paper.

Green America approved