Monday, February 05, 2007

Trick-Taking

13 Comments:

Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

No real comments about the voting this time... things were pretty straightforward. Schnappchen Jagd just won by a couple of votes over Mu & Tichu.

I do wish Victory & Honor would get more recognition - it's a wonderful multi-trick game with a truly interesting way of deciding who plays next.

There is one game missing that makes me sad: Dia de los Muertos/Four Dragons... every time I play, my head throbs in pain. And I like it.

1:08 PM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

If you needed any proof that the Apple pickers are not your average group of gamers, I'd say the winner of this category proves it. I adore Schnappchen Jagd (in fact, it was my #1 pick), but lots of gamers have never played it and I bet most couldn't even spell it! It also has a decided learning curve, another reason most groups wouldn't pick it over Tichu or some of the others. So I'm very happy that it won out, but I realize the result sets us apart. Hopefully, people viewing this won't dismiss us as a bunch of elitists (whatever that means) and will instead check out this great game.

The only other one of my picks that made the final list is Flaschenteufel. Together, they are among the best three-player games ever, as well as two of the hardest to get your head around.

I've only played Mu once and appreciated its potential, but am nowhere near "getting" it. Die Steven Segal! is a pretty good game, but it's been a while since it saw table time. And Tichu is clearly a great game, but there are other members of that family that I prefer. The fiddly rules don't help, particularly when you don't play frequently. Still, I'm pretty surprised that SJ managed to beat out this wildly popular design (and even more surprised that Mu, which is perhaps the most opaque of the three, essentially tied with Tichu).

It's interesting to note that in the top three finishers (SJ, Tichu, and Mu), we have what are generally considered to be the best trick-takers for 3, 4, and 5 players.

Of my other selections, I agree with Mark and chose Victory & Honor (another mind-melter, but a great game), James Miller's very clever Control Nut!, and Too Many Cooks. I also went with three nominated games that didn't make the finals. Far and away the most surprising of these to me is Was Sticht? I guess the years have eroded away at its fan base a bit, but this is a superior trick-taker that I would have thought a lock to get nominated. Less surprising was my pick of Knizia's highly underrated Ohio (super-simple rules, but it's all about figuring the groupthink). I also supported Frank Branham's Dia de los Muertos, but perhaps appropriately, it was DOA (and to be honest, I really haven't grokked that game yet).

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Dave Wilson said...

Larry, how can we check out such a great game if it's nigh on impossible to get? Trust me: if it were republished today, I'd get it tomorrow.

Personally, I'd have lost Schnappchen Jagd (haven't seen, let alone played) and Sieben Siegel, die/Zing! (I'm just not happy with the saboteur role), and would have added Sticheln and Drahtseilakt. Sticheln feels like every card is important when you play, and Drahtseilakt is so accessible and plays well with all numbers of players (though your plans need to differ 3-player vs. 5-player).

I haven't played Twilight or Victory & Honor enough to do any sort of serious comparison with the others. And I've come to think that both Too Many Cooks and Where's Bob's Hat? leave a player handcuffed with just plain bad cards too many times.

(Note: I wasn't an apple picker. I'm just adding to the dialogue.)

2:10 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

Schnäppchen Jagd is a favorite and very deserving of its position as headliner here.

I'm also a fan of Sticheln for three and a big fan of Too Many Cooks, which I have been sorry to see drop out of the regular rotation even at the conventions, where its 30-minute duration fills a natural niche.

I like Ohio very much, Larry, but I don't classify it as a trick-taking game and so didn't vote for it. Likewise the sublimely simple Trendy, which if it were a trick-taking game, would certainly figure in my top five here. But these games are categories unto themselves.

Mü, Tichu, Flaschenteufel, Control Nut!, and Victory and Honor are all worthy games, though I've played none enough to pretend to be any good at them.

It's worth noting that some of the very best trick-taking games are still the old traditional ones: Bridge, Hearts, Euchre, Schnapsen, (Double) Pinochle, 42, Oh Hell, 500, etc.

Finally I've got to mention Löwendynastie, a fun favorite because it is one of the screwiest rolling-trick card games ever devised: with six suits, three different kinds of special cards, two simultaneous tricks as often as not, and an ending where to win you have to be the LAST player to reach ten tricks on the last hand played. This is highly recommended if you would enjoy a game you regard as ridiculous.

Two No Trump,
Stven Carlberg

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am confused from the comments here it sounds like you are saying that Schnappchen won. When I look at the list is seems Flaschenteufel won. Is there a different list than what is shown?

I for one would place The Bottle Imp number one but I have never played Schnappchen. May Joe can teach me in April?

Terry Sr.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

I think in general the picture reflects the "winner" (Mark mentions SJ got more votes in his comment). If that's true, then I'm stunned - Schnappchen Jagd over Mu and Tichu? I mean, Schnappchen Jagd is OK, but it was nowhere near any of my lists. It's been forever since I played it, so I can't recall why exactly it didn't work for me, but I do know it didn't make a great impression in the half-dozen times or so I played it. And it really is pretty constrained to 3 players.

The other four winners are highly deserving, though. Bottle Imp is a wonderful game, Mu is a classic, and while I'm not personally a big fan of Tichu, I can see it's appeal to many. Die Siebel Siegel isn't perfect, but after playing about a million games of Wizard, DSS is a nice change of pace.

I voted for Ohio as well, and if Tichu is a trick-taking game, Ohio is a trick-taking game (for the record, I don't think either are, really; but the lines are murky).

I really like Die Sieben Siegel, but am surprised it overtook Wizard. It seems to me that for most players, Wizard will be the more attractive game (if only because the Saboteur in DSS seems to need a house rule). Wizard is the game that comes out regularly around here.

You couldn't pay me to play David & Goliath again, and Sticheln, while fun, is a bit of a gimmick game I think. Too Many Cooks was kind of average I thought, and Control Nut! was one of those games where the ratio of complexity to control wasn't particularly favorable. It didn't make it past play 1 here, and we have some big fans of trick-taking games. I would have been happier with a shorter nomination list, I think.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

Just realized, Mark explicitly included "climbing" games in the description of the category, so while I'm not sure what exactly Ohio is, it's either trick-taking or climbing, so should have been eligible (it was on the list, and I voted for it). Frank's Zoo should also have been a good choice, and I would have voted for it ahead of most of the nominated games.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Linnaeus said...

Chris,

Sticheln is considerably more than a gimmick game. It is a tricky and interesting game that I play on a regular basis.

The fact that Ninety-Nine (an Oh Hell! variant, but an excellent one) is a tad disappointing, but far from surprising, since it has not received much exposure or attention. It is a favourite of my group, though, and works very well as a middleweight card game for three.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Linnaeus said...

erm....the fact that Ninety-Nine missed the list was unsurprising but a tad disappointing...

4:37 PM  
Blogger daveva said...

99 was not eligible because it's played with a traditional deck of cards.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Linnaeus said...

Ah. I missed that that was a qualification, although I suppose it makes sense given the absence of Bridge, Spades and Hearts.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

re: Sticheln, maybe I was a bit hard on it to call it a "gimmick" game, I do think it's fun and there are interesting choices about how to get rid of your cards, but I also think it's more or less a "what you see is what you get" game, once you've played it a few times, further games don't yield surprises or interesting variations. The varied bidding of Die Sieben Siegal makes each hand interesting and different, and the Wizards in Wizard add an element of excitement that makes each hand individual. In Sticheln, the variance is considerably damped. Plus, Sticheln has a serious issue that players who share a misery suit are in far better shape than those who don't, and this is basically an arbitrary random element.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Linnaeus said...

It's funny, Chris, I actually agree with both of your criticisms, but they don't hurt the game enough in my eyes to really make me rescind my recommendation.

I guess they're the difference between a 10 and an 8 for me, rather than the difference between good and meh.

It would be interesting to see a (well-designed) game that took Sticheln as its core and added one more solid element to the mix. Maybe some day people will talk about the Sticheln family of trick-taking games the way we talk about the Oh Hell! family of games today.

8:30 AM  

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