AMIGO SPIELE, approx £7

Another card game, but this time an instant hit with all my group. Mike said most of what needed saying by way of description in Gamer's Notebook last issue, but I am going to say it again, because I reckon the game deserves a headline and not just a quick mention amidst a whole lot of general chat.

The equipment consists of 104 reasonable quality cards in fairly minimal packaging. Comparison with Olympia 2000 would therefore lead one to suppose that those nice solid boxes cost several pounds each. More minimal packaging please. Apart from anything else, 6 Nimmt fits into your pocket.

The cards are numbered 1 to 104 and each also carries a picture of a number of sets of bull's horns. Most cards just have the one set, but others show up to seven. These horns represent penalty points, for this is one of those games where the object is to have the lowest score when some poor unfortunate bursts through the barrier consigning them to last place.

Each player is dealt ten cards and a further four are placed on the table, each of the four being the starter card for a row. The hand lasts ten rounds, in each of which you place one of your remaining cards face down on to the table. These placements are simultaneous and once all players have played, the cards are turned face up and added to the rows on the table. The rules for this are that the lowest card is placed first, working your way up to the highest, and each card is placed at the end of the row which gives the smallest difference between the card being played and the one currently at the end of the row. These differences must be positive, i.e. the card played must have a higher number than the one currently at the end of the row. If you play a card which, when it comes to be added to a row, has a number less than all four of the current end cards, you pick up a row of your choice and add it to your pile of penalty cards, with the card you played becoming the new start card for that row. This is bad, but worse is when the card you have played finds itself as the sixth card in a row. Then you have to pick up the five cards that were in the row, with your card again becoming the new start card.

The game is one of constant tough decisions. For example, there is a row of four cards ending with the 47. You have the 50 in your hand. Do you risk it? If you do and just one of the 48 and the 49 is played, you collect the penalty, but if neither or both are, then you have got rid of a potentially dangerous card. And what is the right time to go quietly with a low numbered card? Remember, you have to play it some time. In principle, the best time is when someone else plays a card with an even lower number, but when is that likely to be? In our games so far the same two or three players keep doing well and so presumably there are answers to these questions, but since I am not one of the players concerned, I can't tell you what they are. Great game though.

Stuart Dagger

On to the review of Formule Dé or back to the review of Olympia 2000 BC.

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