original German edition
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Be the coolest cat with the most mice by bidding on and booking the hottest blues bands at your club. Use your cards to bid on new cards to create quartets that capture mice when played. When regular musicians aren't available, you can fill with joker musicians to complete groups, but use caution. Using too many jokers can cost you mice and lose you the game! A fast paced card game for family and friends.
Reiner Knizia's card game is the Cat's Meow! You are a club owner, trying to attract mice to your blues club. You know that the better the blues, the more mice you attract. The player who attracts the most mice is the winner.
Each player starts with 5 cards. Cards are turned up from the deck by the 'bandleader.' The cards have a value of 1 to 5 or a wild card. Cards are turned up until 2 cards of the same number are turned up (e.g. two twos or two fives, etc.) or a wild card is turned up. Players bid for the face-up cards with cards from their hand. Points are scored when four cards of the same value are dicarded in exchange for mice counters (e.g. four ones gets one mouse counter, four twos get two, etc.) Wild cards are used to fill in for a missing card. However, if you use too many wild cards you can get a penalty of five mice.
The bidding is great! Gameplay is quick and simple. The game is over after the 24 mice tokens are used up or the deck is exhausted.
This is a wonderful card game! Easy to learn, you can spend hours playing! If you like Hearts or Spades, buy this game! It really is the cat's meow!
Katzenjammer Blues is a close relative of Reiner Knizia's other Lamarckian Poker variant, Money!. The games are siblings, or kissing cousins, at the very least.
What we have here is a game based on the idea of improving your hand of cards by bidding some of the cards already in your hand. While Money! is somewhat processional, with blind bidding, Katzenjammer Blues is a much more wild and woolly experience. Bidding is out in the open, and feels much more like poker.
What makes the game unique is that there are very, VERY few points available for scoring. Jokers can make a high-scoring set, but can come back and bite the player who relies on them too heavily.
There is a subtlety to the play that seems to escape many players. With so few points available, one should try to get large amounts of points when possible, but waiting too long to collect points can mean that the pool of points has been drained already! Don't be too anxious to turn in sets, because it will strip your hand of cards for further bidding.
Some reviewers of these games have said that this is inferior to Money!, but I would disagree wholeheartedly with that assessment. I think the two games are the opposite sides of one very good coin. Two thumbs up.
We got Katzenjammer Blues and another Knizia card game--Money--at Christmas time, and I really like them both. While the others in my group prefer Money, I am rather intrigued by this game. As others have posted, there are similarities in the bidding aspects of the game, and even remotely in the scoring. But I think Katzenjammer Blues poses more difficult decisions, that become apparent during the first couple of playings. In my first 3-player game, for instance, I played a meld for points on the first turn, and crippled my bidding potential for several turns after. Lesson learned: don't be too eager to lay your points out early.
I think it's safe to say that there are significant differences between the two games. But Katzenjammer Blues is more challenging for me.
I recommend it for both gamers and families.
(By the way, if they had a Julie 'Catwoman' Newmar card in the game, I'd have given it 5-stars. Rrrrr-ow!!)
The really unfortunate thing about this game is its theme (Cat Blues Bands?) and its artwork. It makes it look like this game is strictly for kids (that's why I hadn't bought it earlier), but it really is a clever bidding and melding game, with plenty of difficult decisions to make along the way.
In fact it's a more complicated game than Lost Cities, and in general I actually think it is overall a better game than Lost Cities. It reminds me of Knizia's other bidding card game, Money. In Katzenjammer Blues you must bid cards from your hand in order to win groups of cards that have been randomly turned up from the draw pile (a lot like in Money), so right off the bat you have to figure out what cards you can afford to give up in your bid in order to acquire those displayed on the table. Sometimes you may not even want the cards on the table, but you bid anyway in order to keep them out of your opponent's hand. Sometimes you may want to acquire the cards in order to meld them and other times you may want them in order to strengthen the bidding position of your hand in future rounds. It's really tempting to meld as soon as possible, but if you do you may find your hand more or less permanently weakened in future bidding rounds. On the other hand there are only 20 points total available to score (the 20 points will get divided among the players) so you are very eager to meld and get your share of the points before somebody else does. In addition, you have to take into consideration the role of jokers. Jokers can be used to increase the size of your bid or to make melding easier, but you have to be careful, because whichever player uses the most jokers during the course of the game gets penalized 5 points when calculating the final score.
In general, I was quite satisfied with the game and will definitely be playing it again.
As one who's enjoyed a lot of good play with Bohnanza and Lost Cities, I heartily recommend Katzenjammer Blues as another game of similar high quality and easy accessibility. I really enjoy the drama of player interaction in Bohnanza, and the tension of simple decisions which make up Lost Cities. If you would enjoy Lost Cities with more player interaction, or Bohnanza with more interesting decisions, then you'd do well to try Katzenjammer Blues. Rather than redescribe the rules, I'll instead note the key characteristics of the game.
First, it's a simple bidding game with simple enjoyable bidding interaction. ('Is he/she bidding high because he/she could win the game by winning this bid? Or is this just to get me to bid high?')
Second, there's a limit to the number of points to be taken so timing is everything. Only the winner of a bid can meld for points, so there's decent tension in later bids. Your currency for points is also your currecy for strong future bids.
Third, jokers cats carry an enticing risk. You need to use them well to score well. But you don't want to have used and still be holding the most, as the penalty usually makes a would-be winner a loser.
Fourth, I believe this game has potential for both light and serious gamers alike. A light gamer can make simple decisions based on what they see. A serious gamer could possibly gain ever greater knowledge of other's hands through successive bids, making bidding more strategic in nature.
As I've said, this game lies solidly between Bohnanza and Lost Cities. Enjoy!
I really enjoy this game--it's a good game; it's just not a GREAT GAME. This is no Bohnanza.... We play this game at lunch at work, and it's perfect--it goes very quickly and is light hearted (love the artwork). I would recommend Bohnanza or Drahtseilakt any day of the week.
I'll start out by saying I own a bunch of Knizia games, and many of them are just superb.
This one, however, is an exception to the rule. It's dirt cheap, it takes up no space in your collection, and the pieces are of pretty good quality (though 50% of the nice mouse drawing gets left behind when you cut out the chip--too bad for the artist's effort). But you would almost spend as much energy getting together with friends to take guesses on coin flips. And if you play it with (for example) 4 players, once a player hands in a set of 5's and stays clear of jokers, he's won. Where's the fun in that? Maybe for kids under 5 years of age--otherwise, 1 star. I just don't see the re-playability.
This game is easy to catch on to and is a reasonably quick little bidding game. The art on the cards is cartoonish, but the colors used in the art are lush and lend the game good atmosphere (such as it is). My main problem with this game is that it is far too similar to another Knizia filler: Money!. Trying to capture mice is a cute idea but I find the deck has too many jokers in it and the game just feels a bit flat. Money! tends to have closer finishes and sneakier player-to-player interaction (withholding triplets etc.). Katzenjammer Blues seems to lack that interaction.
Since I played Money! first, I think that I tend to like it better. Perhaps if I'd played Katzenjammer Blues first, I would have liked it better than Money!, but with 2 games so similar it seems like a waste to have published them both. I recognize some will prefer Katzenjammer Blues over Money!, and that doesn't bother me. My main point is that the 2 games are altogether too similar. I would give this 2.5 stars if I could because 2 seems a bit low, but Katzenjammer Blues just feels flat to me and I am not keen to play it. Since I gave Money! 3 stars, it'll have to be 2 for this one. (Which makes me realize that I rated Samarkand too low.)
Now here's a funny game. It's a bidding game and it's over before you know it. Each player receives 6 cards and the object is to win as many chits as possible. There are only a fixed number of these and they go remarkably quickly. You claim them by winning an auction, and then discarding four cards of the same value. The cards themselves are ones to fives and are shown as the members of a blues band. There are also jokers, which can be substituted for any card. How do you win an auction?
Well, each round starts with the winner of the previous round dealing out one face-up card at a time until either a joker is displayed or a second card of the same value is revealed. (If a joker is revealed, then each player gets dealt another card.) This is the set of cards that everyone is bidding for. Each bid can either be a set of cards of the same value or a set of cards of different values. The lowest bid is one card, then two different cards, then two cards of the same value, then two cards of a higher value etc. None of the cards are revealed except those of the winning player. If a player drops out of the bidding, they cannot rejoin. Generally an auction only lasts 30 seconds. The winner then may discard a set of cards of the same value and receives a number of chips equal to the value of the set. If you need to use a card either in a bid or to complete a set but don't have the right one, you may substitute a joker. The downside is that the person with the most jokers used during the game or left over in your hand at the end of the game loses 5 points. This is such a large number that it is unlikely that you will win the game with this disadvantage.
And this is what we thought was the game. There seemed to be a flaw with the game because if you got a hand of jokers you may as well give up. However, the game was still pretty good. Then we found the missing rule in the middle of the rules. You could discard a set of four jokers if you won an auction. This so transformed the game that it has become a very popular game to play in our Friday evening game sessions. The game works surprisingly well with two players and well, of course, with more. Recommended.