David & Goliath
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After reading several glowing reviews about this one, I decided to give it a try. Boy, am I ever glad that I did! This is one of those rare games whose rules can be related in only a few sentences, but requires *many* sessions of playing to get a decent sense of the strategies.
My only caveat is that while the box states that it is a game for 3-6 players, I don't recommend it with less than 4. While you certainly *can* play it with only 3 players, it's a far stronger gaming experience with 4, 5, or 6 gathered around the table.
Anyway, if you like simple games, with very elusive strategies, I can't recommend this game more highly. This game, along with Hol's der Geier, stand out among card games for generating so much fun with such extremely clever and simple rules. Highly recommended.
60 seconds to learn. Devilishly difficult to win. A great blend of skill and chance where any family member can win the game. A card game where every trick has a twist and turn to it as you try to improve your point score and/or harm your opponent's ability to get a good score.
David & Goliath is Yet Another Trick-Taking Game, or so it seems upon a cursory glance at the rules. However, this one takes the standard whist-type game and adds one big twist, making David & Goliath a real gem.
Each player is dealt fifteen cards from a deck of five suits (the total number of cards thus depends on how many players there are). One player leads a card, and everyone else must follow suit if they can. There are no trumps as such, because once everyone has played a card, the suits become irrelevant and the only thing that matters is the numbers on the played cards.
The player who played the largest-numbered card - regardless of its colour - gets to keep all the other cards as booty. And now the twist, which is where the game gets its title: the highest-numbered card itself goes to the player who played the lowest-numbered card! It doesn't take long for it to sink in that of the fifteen cards you are dealt at the start of the hand, you will end up having none of them in front of you when the hand is over. Naturally this means that most of the trick-taking card tactics you already know are out the window.
The remainder of the twist comes with the scoring: sort your takings by colour; if you have two or fewer of a particular colour, you score the point value on those cards. If you have three or more in a colour, each of them is worth only one point! More cards are not necessarily better!
One of the delightful results of these rules is that there is almost always something to be done with every hand you are dealt; if you have a long run of a suit, you should be able to grab several more cards of that colour, or if you have only a few low cards in one suit you can earn big points by stealing the highest card in a trick. Contrast this to trick-taking games such as Bridge or Five Hundred, where if you are dealt a bad hand there is nothing to do except wait it out and hope that luck smiles on you next deal.
This is one of my favorite trick-taking games. The cards are in five color suits, but never mind that now. The highest card of any color wins the trick and its owner collects all but the highest card played; this "Goliath" card goes to the player of the lowest card ("David"), to be scored later. After 15 rounds the scoring starts, and this is when colors do matter. One or two cards of a color earn their face value, but more than two score only a point each. Toward the end, things can get as tense as a drawn slingshot.
The small card-size box contains simply a pack of 90 cards numbered from 1 to 18 in each of 5 colours. However many players there, you use only enough cards to deal 15 to each of you. So, with six players you use all the cards, with five you use those numbered 1 to 15, with four those numbered 1 to 12 and with three those numbered 1 to 9. The game is basically yet another trick taking game, but it has one or two delightful twists.
As in Whist, one player leads a card and the others must follow suit if they can. If they can't, they may play any card. There are no trumps. When more than one card of the same number is played in a trick, the latest one has precedence. The highest and the lowest cards played in each trick will capture cards and because it is important to be able to see who has played what, we've found it better if instead of playing cards to the centre of the table, you lay your card in front of you.
Right, fairly basic so far; but now comes the first twist, and this will (or should!) seriously affect your decision on which card to play. The person who played the lowest card, irrespective of colour, wins the highest of the cards played to the trick; the person who played the highest wins all the rest. In each case, duplicated numbers are treated as mentioned above. Cards won are placed face-up in front of each player for all to see. Play continues like this until all cards have been played.
Okay, you say, so what? Well, the scoring at the end of each round is the other twist in the tail. If you have won just one or two cards of a colour, they each score their face value; if you have won more than two cards of a colour, they each score only one point. After several rounds, the player with the most points wins.
If you give this a little thought, I'm sure you will appreciate the problems and opportunities that arise when it's your turn to play a card. Everybody can always see who is in the lead and can try to turn the leader's singles and pairs into multiples. On the other hand, you are naturally trying your damnedest to increase and defend your own score. Moreover, even though you can see what cards have been played and can deduce what remain, you cannot be sure if and when a duplicate number might be played. Really great stuff from a small and fairly simple game -- the same old question, why didn't I think of it?
Although I've now played this little gem for getting on for 20 times, I still cannot really give you a length of time for it. It depends an awful lot on whom you are playing with and how seriously you want to play. For this reason, therefore, it is an excellent game for really concentrated play, but equally good for families and older children. For me, it is right up there with Sticheln and Hat-Trick, which is high praise indeed! If this masterpiece and Basari are examples of Herr Staupe's future offerings, we are certainly in for a treat from this up and coming master craftsman. Highly recommended. 9 out of 10 in my book -- and that's only because 10's don't seem to be acceptable in the hobby.