International Games, £10
2-6 players, 30 minutes
Reviewed by Dave Farquhar
Trumpet is a card cum board game, for two to six players, from the designer of Uno. I have to say that when I played it I was singularly unimpressed, as I am not really a fan of whist-based card games. However, for anyone reading this who is of a similar disposition... stay tuned. It is a very good little game.
Now for a brief run down. The attractive deck of playing cards contains six suits, showing numbers from one to eleven, together with several 'Trumpet' cards. Seven cards are dealt to each player, and the game commences with a card being led, and other players following the suit. Highest card wins.
Pretty standard stuff so far. The winner of the trick moves his pawn around a track, progressing to the next unoccupied space. This means that if all pieces are adjacent, the trailing player would, upon winning a trick, jump to first place. The winner of the game is the first to reach the finish.
At the start of the game there are no trumps. However, landing on certain spaces on the board enable the player to choose trumps. A disc showing the symbol of the selected suit is placed on a trump 'ladder'. The next time a player lands on a trump space a different suit is chosen, and is placed above the first on the ladder. This shows the priorities the different trumping suits take and it goes on until all suits are trumps. At this point, progressing to a trump space allows the order of any two trumps to be altered. Thus it is a very fluid game. Not only do trumps change, but the cards are re-dealt after each seven tricks. In addition, the Trumpet cards beat everything else, even other Trumpets. You will have noted from that paragraph that the Thesaurus offers no alternative for 'trump'.
Although essentially a simple game, there is certainly room for plenty of strategy. For example, the timing of winning tricks is important. If the last trick of a hand can be won, while progressing the pawn to a trump space, the player will be choosing trumps with a completely fresh hand; much more useful than winning the penultimate trick. It may also be advantageous to allow another player to win the trick, if in doing so they overtake you and fill in an empty space in front of you. This could then allow you to make a bigger jump yourself by taking the next. If however you, like me, find it a major achievement just to win one trick, this sort of tactical play comes hard. I suspect that a good card player could do very well at this game, but not being one I shall have to ask for a second opinion.
Another interesting facet is that on the final stretch of the board winning a trick gives the option of pulling back another player's piece rather than progressing one's own. Strangely that often seems to be the impartial recommendation of those who have just lost the trick.
I had great fun playing Trumpet, even though I trailed along behind, and got the impression that everyone else enjoyed it. The ending of my first game was terrific! Simon won a trick, moved his pawn forward and changed trumps. He then led the ten of that suit, knowing that winning the trick would allow him to jump past Kevin to win the game. Kevin, not having read the script, played the eleven and won.
Trumpet costs about $15. I am not sure if it is available in this country yet, but the address if you wish to try and order direct is: International Games Inc, One Uno Circle (!), Joliet, IL 60435, USA.
On to the review of Dail Eireann and Aras An Uachtaran or back to the review of Santa Fe.
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