In Ligretto, each player has his own deck of forty cards, with cards 1-10 in four colors and a unique symbol on the back to identify which cards are his. At the start of each round, each player lays out 3-5 cards (depending on the number of players) face up in front of him to create his row; places a face-up stack of ten cards, seeing only the top card, next to his row to create his Ligretto stack; and holds the remaining cards in hand face down.
Playing at the same time, each player tries to empty his Ligretto stack. If he has a 1 on the top of any face-up stack, he plays it to the center of the table. If he has a 2 of the same color as any 1 in the center of the table, he can place the 2 on the 1. All cards in the central piles must be played in ascending order and must be the same color.
If a player can't play anything, he can reveal cards from the stack in his hand, counting them out in groups of three, then laying them face up while revealing only the top card. He can play this top card onto a central pile as long as he meets the rules for doing so.
As soon as a player empties his Ligretto stack, the round ends. Each player scores 1 point for each of his cards among the central piles, then loses 2 points for each card remaining in his Ligretto stack. In some versions of the game, the player with the highest score wins; in other versions, players then sort all the cards and play another round, with the first player to reach 99 points winning.
A rules variant for Ligretto allows a player to play cards from his Ligretto stack or the cards in hand onto the cards in his row, but only if the numbers are in descending order and the colors of adjacent cards are not identical.