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Anything can happen in Sticheln. You are just about to take a trick with lots of points for you, when an opponent plays a card of the wrong color for you and you get negative points instead. That's got to drive you up a wall! Only he who has the fewest cards of the wrong color will get the last laugh. This is truly a captivating game.
Interesting game--requires thought and planning. Deciding the pain suit is the first tough decision--don't select a suit where you only have a 1 and a 0, unless you have a few others 0's as well. Trust me, you'll end up taking many of that suit, as you are forced to trump. Deciding when to stick a player as to when to take the trick yourself is an interesting decision. And the endgame is also interesting, especially if there are pain cards out there. You have to keep in mind who the leader is, and stick them, while taking tricks instead of sticking the laggards.
Sticheln ('Prick' or 'Needle') has quickly replaced Oh Hell! and Hearts as my game group's favorite card game. This German import turns the typical rules of trick-taking card games (follow suit, for example) upside down and breathes new life into that honorable, and sometimes overly familiar category of games. Sticheln's fast pace, nasty game play, and scoring encourages players to try to stick it to each other -- a sure fire way to guarantee a lively game night.
My only complaint involves the color scheme used in Sticheln and many other German card game imports I've seen: Several of the colors (red and orange, blue and green) become nearly indistinguishable unless the room is exceptionally well-lighted.
A convoluted rule set hides a fantastic trick taking game. With the intriguing inverted trick structure (the lead suit is the only suit that is not trump) and player's chosing their own misery suit (cards in this suit are worth negative points equal to their numeric value.), Sticheln twists your mind in intriguing directions. An added bonus with the Amigo edition is that you can play 'Hat Trick' and 'Mit List and Tuche'(the 4 player version,anyhow.)with a modified deck. Both are games from the King of Tricks, Klaus Palesch, the creator of this game. With every play, this game just gets better and better.
If you like trick-taking card games, you'll enjoy Sticheln. Each player has his own 'stick-'im' suit which gives him the face value of all the cards in that suit in negative points if he takes them in tricks. Meanwhile the only way to get positive points is by taking other cards in tricks. So you have to win tricks to score -- but you have to be careful NOT to win tricks in your misery suit. This turns out to be quite a tricky balancing act.
The game may be at its best with three players, where it is a tight contest and the two trailing players will often need to gang up on the leader. As you add more players, the hail of destruction tends to seem more random than strategic.
By the way, the gamer from New York who didn't like Sticheln in his review had two of the rules wrong. Actually you DON'T have to follow suit on a trick -- but any other suit played counts as a trump. Also the Sticheln cards each player secretly selects at the beginning of each hand are not kept secret but are revealed simultaneously, so that everyone knows while the hand is being played which cards you are trying to avoid. Thus you get to target other players deliberately, making for a much more entertaining game.
A trick taking card game with numbered cards in multiple suits. You must follow suit. If you can't follow suit, whatever else you play is a trump. Highest trump wins. If everyone followed suit, highest card wins. The catch is the 'misery' card. At the start of the game all players are dealt 15 cards. You must choose one and lay it on the table in front of you. All cards you win in tricks (including this face down card) of this misery suit count as negative their face value. ALL other cards you win count as one point. The game seems likes it's going to be another David & Goliath at this point. But the tension you think it's going to create seldom happens. You don't really have many opportunities to stick it to the other person as the title suggests. Instead you work on your own score. Good filler if you play 2-4 rounds to a low score, tho.