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David & Goliath
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Store:  Family Games, Card Games
Edition:  David & Goliath
Genre:  Trick-Taking
Format:  Card Games

David & Goliath

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 20 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Reinhard Staupe

Publisher(s): Berliner Spielkarten

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Product Description

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1998

Product Information

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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.8 in 6 reviews

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by Brad N.
It looks like fun, but didn't work for me
January 18, 2008

I was really intrigued with the idea of this game, David & Goliath. I like the theme and I like the idea behind the game and the reviews that I read were very positive. I am a huge game fan and it is unusual for me to not like a game that is generally well- liked by other boardgamers.

When I played David & Goliath, it just didn't work. I think it's a neat idea to have the high card of the hand win something and the low card in the hand win something. And, the scoring is clever in that the best way to score big points is to get just two high-valued cards in a few colors. More than two cards in a color and the value of those cards drops significantly. My experience is that games with clever scoring methods like this are much better for it (eg. Medici, Ra).

But, when I played the game, everyone was confused by the high-low card mechanic. And, I felt like I didn't really have control over the game as much as I expected. In most trick-taking games, having the lead is a good thing because you can have some control over the hand. In this game, having the lead is really a bad thing because anyone who ties your card number (using the same number in a different color), will beat you as ties go to the last player to play a card on both high and low.

Overall, I was disappointed with David & Goliath.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Tremendous Trick-Taking Game
October 17, 2005

One of my favorite stories to tell in Children's Church is the story of David and the giant Goliath. The story appeals to every small child who faces big challenges in their life and always keeps them fascinated. When I heard that there was a card game version of David and Goliath (Playroom Entertainment, 2004 - Reinhard Staupe), I was initially wary, since I've found that most games with Biblical themes are usually garbage or worse. Still, I saw a couple of good reviews on the internet, so gladly participated in a demo of the game when at Origins one summer.

And I was amazed at just how much fun the game really was. The idea was simple, really - have the small card take the largest card, and the largest card take the rest - but it just worked well. I immediately enjoyed playing the game, and it has remained, since then, one of my favorite trick-taking games. It's enjoyable because I can get many people to play the game - some who normally don't play games at all, and I've seen many "non-gamers" fall in love with the game, requesting it time after time. It's destined to be a classic card game, one on the top tier.

There are five suits of cards in the game, denoted by color (red, yellow, blue, green, and purple). Values of each suit (depending on the number of players) are added to the deck, from 1 to 18. The deck is shuffled, and fifteen cards are dealt to each player. On a round, the starting player chooses any card and plays it on the table. Each other player must "follow suit" (play the same color), placing it in front of them. If a player doesn't have a card of the played color, they can play any card from their hand. The player who played the card with the lowest number (regardless of color) receives the highest card for their score pile. The player who played the card with the highest number (regardless of color) receives all the rest of the cards. All won cards are placed face up in front of each player, sorted by color. The player who played the highest card starts the next round.

This continues for fifteen rounds, until all cards have been played and won. Players then total their points. For each color, if a player has only one or two cards of that color, they receive points equal to the numbers on the card. If they have three or more cards of a color, they receive one point per card. Each player adds their sum to the final total, and another round begins. After one round for each player has occurred, the game is over, and the player with the highest total wins!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The cards have some neat artwork on them by Alexander Bradley. If you put the cards in order, from "1" to "18", and flip through them, you can see wee David growing up to be fearsome Goliath. This is nice and gives a certain visual appearance that the bigger numbers are "giants". The only problem with the card designs are that the colors are pretty much indistinguishable from each other outside of color, making them difficult for color blind folk. The cards are of good quality and fit snugly inside a plastic card insert in a small, sturdy box.

2.) Rules: The rules take only four pages of a multilingual rulebook and wouldn't even need to be that long except that there are full-color illustrations, making it so that absolutely anybody can understand the game. And there's just something that's naturally intuitive about the theme. The big number gets all the small numbers, but the smallest number pegs the biggest number in the forehead, winning it. Even teenagers and children can pick up the game (perhaps not the subtle strategies), and it's easily one of the most successful card games I've ever introduced.

3.) Scoring: The scoring system is simply ingenious. Players strive to get a couple high numbers in each color, and then not take any more cards. But it's a real struggle to keep from taking that third card in each color. If I have two yellow cards, "14" and "9", that's worth twenty-three points to me. Taking a third yellow card will make them worth a whopping total of three points, which is a twenty point loss. Therefore, players are often attempting to play middle cards - cards that are neither high nor low, for much of a round, trying to take only a few cards at most. Once a player goes over their three cards in a color, though, they might as well go "whole hog" and attempt to take every color card that they can. There are other games that have a similar concept, Relationship Tightrope and Turn the Tide. While both of those games are excellent games, David and Goliath beats them for sheer simplicity and fun.

4.) Fun Factor: When writing this review, I realize that there's really not a whole lot more I can say about it. I'm sure that many paragraphs could be written about the nuances of strategy, but I simply enjoy the game because I have fun doing so. David & Goliath is quick and easy, but more importantly, it's fun to everybody who plays the game.

Okay, maybe not everybody will like the game, but I haven't run into any yet who don't. There are times where I enjoy a good game of Puerto Rico or Princess of Florence with their various options and deep strategy. But many other times, I'm simply content with a light card game - one that is easy to teach to others and play. With many people understanding the trick-taking genre, and the interesting theme, David & Goliath is one of my most successful "gateway" games, and will stay on my shelf for quite a long time (except for those multiple instances where people demand to play it.)

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A tricky-taking game
October 31, 2004

When I finally got around to playing the wonderful game Basari, I instantly found a hit game that yielded tons of replay to me and my group. When I heard that the designer of Basari, Reinhard Staupe, had a fun card game out published by a tiny German publisher, I was very excited to try it out but never got the chance because it was too hard to find. Now that Playroom Entertainment has picked it up, it is now widely available to the North American audience.

Have you ever played a "trick-taking" game like Spades, or Bridge? D&G is a little like that but with some subtle twists of its own. In a trick-taking game, the designated starting player lays down a card in the suit/color of her choice (D&G has five colored suits). Then, one at a time from the starting player, each player must play a card that matches that color. If you have no more cards of that color, then you may play any card in your hand. Players are trying to win (or avoid winning) the entire set of cards played -- this is called "taking a trick".

In most games, the highest number played in the lead color takes the trick, but in D&G it is the highest card, regardless of color, that takes the trick...sort of. You see the lowest card (the "David") gets to take the highest card (the "Goliath") FIRST; then whoever played the Goliath card gets the rest of the cards (including, ironically enough, the David card...hmm, well there goes the theme!) Lather, rinse, repeat. The rules are simple to grasp, but understanding strategy -- that may take a while, especially when you consider the scoring...

When all the cards have been played, players then tally up their scores. Each card they won gives them one point. BUT IF the player has a color in which they hold only ONE or TWO cards, then they score the FACE VALUE of those cards. Do you see the importance of the David card now? See if a Red 12 is going to win the trick, and you play the David, you get to take the Red 12 card. If, at the end of the hand, you have only one or two Red cards, then that card is now worth 12 points instead of 1!

The rules are simple enough, but it is the scoring that really makes the game tick. Ideally you will end up with exactly 10 cards, 2 in each color, with high values on each card. But it is very difficult to do that. If you have a lot of high cards, you are going to win a lot of tricks and end up with a lot of single points, so you need to pick up tons of points and make sure not to let too many Davids slay your Goliaths for mega bonus points. And if other players see you with a lot of potential bonus points, they are going to try and make you take a trick or two in order to "overload" your colors and make sure you don't score too many bonus points. And that is what makes this game unique. Not only are you trying to score well for yourself, but you are also trying to, as a group, make sure everyone else doesn't score many bonus points.

D&G is a very tricky game (no pun intended) that will most likely be well received by trick-taking fans, but actually stands up on its own and makes for good card game overall. Nothing terribly exciting about this game, but it is clever. The most noticable flaw is that the graphics and the cardstock are very mediocre. I don't know who drew the cards, but the colors used are sickly looking, and the artwork itself (pictures of David and Goliath with every stage in between the two) is very bland and I am certain they could have done a lot better by going with a more cheerful pallette and cartoonish graphics. After a few plays, it also became obvious to me that despite it's claim to play 3-6 players, with 5 or 6 players, it becomes very difficult to play strategically because there is too much chaos, and bonus points get too high, allowing for swingy scoring. For the price though, the game is definitely worth checking out. Get past the graphics, and stick with the 3 or 4 player game, and enjoy.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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