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The Great Dalmuti
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The Great Dalmuti

second edition

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Product Awards:  
Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 1995

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 15 minutes 4-8

Designer(s): Richard Garfield

Publisher(s): Wizards of the Coast

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Product Description

Life isn't fair... and neither is The Great Dalmuti! One round you're at the top of the heap, and the next you're peasant scum in this fast-paced card game of medieval one-upmanship. The players take their places in the pecking order, from Greater Peon to Greater Dalmuti, and try to get rid of the cards in their hands. Next round, everyone's roles could change because the faster you get rid of your cards, the higher you'll go. If you're unseated, you're really unseated: everyone moves around the table each round to take up their new positions. But don't get comfortable in the cushy chair of the Greater Dalmuti, because in a single hand even the lowliest Peon can boot you out the door. Sound unfair? Sure it is! But ah, the sweet taste of victory could make it all worthwhile....

Product Awards

Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 1995

Product Information


  • 80 cards
  • rulebook
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.3 in 35 reviews

So much fun
January 14, 2011

Been playing this game for years, and still fun. We just bought a new deck as ours was so worn out from years of use.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
One of the reasons I game
May 16, 2006

My biggest problem with this game is finding people and situations to play with. Through high school and college it was easy, but now everyone seems less interested in games. But whenever I wheedle people into sitting down, they always bang down my door for when we're going to get together and do it again.

I, like them, didn't know what I was missing until my friends in high school got me playing. From there we took on more and more games but this one is the one that made it through the whole process and remains an active part of my collection.

It is based on games like Big 2 and Star Wars, which you may never have heard of, or a drinking game you probably have. Whoever starts the round sets the size of the trick at singletons, doubletons, and so forth. The rest of the round you can only play that sized trick, until no one more can play. You play lower and lower numbered tricks until everyone passes (voluntarily or involuntarily). The goal is to get rid of all your cards.

The best twist is that the winners are rewarded and the losers are penalized, going into the next round. Those at the bottom have to give their best cards to those at the top, while getting garbage in return. This unusual tactic, to try to keep people at their relative station, is wonderful.

So - you may be asking, why buy this when I can do it with a deck of cards? The twist Wizards provides is that there is 1 one, 2 twos, up to 12 twelves. This balances out the deck, while the 1 is the best card, a hand of 7 twelves is just as strong (although you have to have the lead to play it). Plus the 80 card deck lets you play with more people, without overweighting the best cards.

The strategy of trying to get rid of your cards without leaving yourself helpless (by having all high cards or just a single or pair, while everyone leads three of a kind just to laugh at you and you end up in last) is deep and inexhaustible. Add to that making fun of the misfortune of the peons, as they play last and lose their best cards, along with any extra rules the "Dalmuti" at the top wants to make (such as clapping for every play one player makes, or referring to each other as Mr. and Mrs. Biggles. While seeminly childish, matching rules to each person's sense of humor and particular acting skills can make for a great social occasion), and you're in for a fun evening.

By the way, making a "Dalmuti throne" or having a "Dalmuti robe" really motivates everyone to fight their way to the top.

Search for "Big 2" card game (ignore poker results) if you want a 52-card taste, and then trust me, it's better with the Dalmuti deck.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
My best memories stem from this game
April 15, 2006

It is kind of like the card game president, but much better. I remember when I was younger my family and I would play this for hours after dinner, or waiting for dinner, or chance we had. It is a great family game because younger children can play it...

I absolutely love it.

Good party game.
July 23, 2005
This is best with six or more players. It's easy to learn, plays fast, and has a good combination of luck and strategy. The rules for the Greater Dalmuti's treatment of the Greater Peon can give rise to a lot of good natured kidding. I'm delighted the game is being re-released. My original deck is getting worn.
Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
3th deck
March 29, 2004

This is indeed one of the best games around. I recently bought a new deck, because my first one is totally worn, as is one of my fellow gamers' decks. Thus this makes it the 3th deck we are going to use. See how long this will last!?

A definite must have!

By tradition, our closer
March 28, 2004

Every time we have a gaming night, we always close it with a few rounds of 'The Great Dalmuti'.

We would feel incomplete if we didn't. This is truly one of the greatest games around.

The giving of orders can be an optional rule. We usually don't take the giving of orders too far, so that it remains fun for everyone. A must-have!

Crazy fun
March 10, 2004

I played this game the first time at camp. It's a great game to play on a lazy evening with friends. Well, what game isnt? But this game actually puts enough real life unfairness in it to make it better than some game with just a bunch of numbers.

The downside is that I haven't been able to see it anywhere to buy. Granted, I haven't gone and done a full scale search, but if you even see the game or get the chance to buy it, I strongly recommend it.

Great fun, real addictive you can't stop :-)
December 19, 2003

I' ve played this game on a short break in a farm. I was thrilled by it verry fast it is easy to learn and the constante seat change makes it a game that you'll bound to remember !!

I have bought it in the following week that should be sufficiant information ;-)

Althoug in the netherlands it is hard to find only specialized stores have it in stock.

the legacy
December 08, 2003

I bought this game when it first came out, many years ago. I still have that original deck, with all the wax worn off the cards. There were many nights spent, hours upon hours, playing this game. I put it among my top 5 favorite games I've ever played. The simplicity crossed with the hierarchy make this game wicked and fun.

by Drew
November 11, 2003

I played this great card game last night for the first time. As with all the great games, the rules are very easy to pick up, and (slightly) challenging to master.

It's a fun game, with the hierarchy element encouraging riotous behaviour!!

(Reminds me of 'President's Ar$ehole')

Find it, buy it, play it love it!!!

by Sam
This Is The Best Game Ever!
August 27, 2003

I just played this game for the first time, and the people i played with told me that hasbro bought wizards of the coast and stopped making the great dalmuti.... What a shame. If i ever find any place in the world who sells the great dalmuti, im buying it immediately!!!

by Brad
June 30, 2003

We have been playing this game everyday at work during our lunch hour for the past 4 months! We absolutely love it! It has helped reduce stress and build unity and comradery at the workplace. We originally started playing UNO and had a lot of fun. Then I told them that I wanted them to try a new game, and we have been playing it ever since. One day when only 4 people came up to the lunchroom (you need from 5 to 8 players), we tried to play UNO, but it just didn't work - it wasn't fun anymore compared to The Great Dalmuti. You gotta try it! The English version is out of print, but you can find the German edition on ebay which works just fine.

Fun, especially with food
December 25, 2002

THis game is great if you've got a lot of people. Food seems to be a good status indicator, only the Dalmutis get to eat the good stuff. Generally, everyone playing has fun, and the lowly peon may someday make it to dalmuti. I haven't found another party game quite this fun, one that involves both acting, luck and strategy. Have fun!

Is there anything besides Dalmuti?
December 07, 2002

Life is Dalmuti. Homework is forgotten and sleep is discarded for the intense game of Dalmuti. It's fun with 3 people or 12. You better watch out when you play some good cards because you might have to EAT IT!! Whatever you play, I can beat it. What more can I say??

by Alli
An experience
October 26, 2002

My cousin bought a copy of this game in an airport changing flights in Boston on her way home. It instantly became a tradition- all you need are 4-7 theatrical people, a couple of british accents...It breaks my heart that they dont make it anymore! This game is wonderful, and it anyone knows where I can buy a copy,(because mine's kind of beat up) email me. Thanks!

Who's the Biggest Bully in Your Gaming Group? Find Out Now!
October 22, 2002

Well, if you're trying to see who can stoop lowest, this is one of the ways to find out. The Great Dalmuti is like life... it's not very much fun for 75% of the players! I always groaned when this game hit the table, because while the game never ends, the pause to shuffle causes players to remember what time it is, and go home. 'Yeah, I've had enough abuse for one night... seeya!'

If you must play drinking games, play them with a normal deck of cards. If you must buy Wizards of the Coast games, buy RoboRally. If you like random card games, buy 6 Takes/6 Nimmt!

I wish I had all the time I wasted on the Great Dalmuti back, from the moment I learned it in 1995, right up to this second.

by Ian
September 19, 2002

Yes, I know it's not 100% strategic and relies heavily on luck (although some people do have some excellent tactics!). This element of chance is what makes it so enjoyable and entertaining - purely strategic may be more of a challenge, but not much fun for those who are not very good.

I have enjoyed it with many different types of groups ranging from children to (mildly) drunken adults - though these two do not necessarily mix!

I have only one problem - trying to get hold of a copy for myself!

Fun game, but too chaotic and not enough skill
August 24, 2002

This is a good game but it normally is not a game you play with serious board game fans; not enough depth. It is a good party game however, but requires that everyone is into the game because there is a lot of switching seats and trading in cards. If someone gets lost with what to do they just stopped the game for 7 other players. Also, you really need at LEAST 6 people to play, otherwise there is just not enough skill because others players hands can be easily anticipated. I guess to sum it up, if you are in the mood to play a game, don't play The Great Dalmuti (it requires hardly any thought and strategic planning). If youre in the mood to have some fun with your friends then consider this game. With the Great Dalmuti it is a game where everyone needs to role play, and as in almost all role playing games there is no loser and there is no winner...there is just the game and how it turns out. Even though there are definite winners and losers in The Great Dalmuti, no one really feels like they lost (besides, rounds only last 10-15 min).

by Megan
August 22, 2002

The game is perfect for families and groups of friends especially when there is a wide range of ages. I would highly recommend actually playing the personality of the character you are. At my house we also have paper crowns for the Dalmutis and fishing hats for the Peons. We also play that the peons have to sit on the floor. It really makes the game more enjoyable and competitive. It takes a couple of rounds to get the game going and everyone feeling comfortable acting a character and developing their own strategy. This is definitely a game that everyone can enjoy.

This is one of my favorite card games
August 14, 2002

In 'The Great Dalmuti', you can be a king one day, then peasant scum the next. As in real life the tides do turn, although taxes can slow that down by giving dalmuties bettter cards and peons worse. When, at fencing camp of all places, our counsler introduced us to 'The Great Dalmuti', I found it very intreging and unpredictable. I loved it. I found ceartain strategies worked better than others so it contained much option. It could be one of the best things done by wizards of the coast.

by Julia
Very addictive game! I love it!
July 27, 2002

i would definitely give this card game the full five stars. some friends and i, all 14, have an annual camping trip, and one of them has the great dalmuti game and always brings it. this year we played fifteen games in a row, stopped for lunch, and played some more!!! its really simple, and its very very very fun!!!!!!!!! i would say that half the fun of this camping trip is playing that game. it does need 5 people or more to play. 5 or 6 is the best number of players, otherwise it gets confusing. my question is.... how did they come up with the name of the game?

............'the great dalmuti'...........interesting.

by Kevin
Great Fun!
July 16, 2002

Sure, there may have been similar games before The Great Dalmuti, but the special set of cards (twelve 12's, eight 8's, three 3's, etc) makes this one new and accessable to all. Perfect for camping but don't leave your cards out or else the morning dew will ruin them. I'm a high shool teacher and my students LOVE playing it after a test or 10 minutes before the end of class. I've also introduced it to my parents and their friends in their retirement complex and they all LOVE IT! A quick game to learn and it becomes even more interesting when you actually use strategy later on. Where does the term 'peon' come from, anyway? I thought it was the servant who held the king's chamber pot and would get wet upon. Any other ideas?

Why pay money for it?
May 01, 2002

I hate that I paid money for the exact game that I have been playing with a normal deck of cards as a drinking game since 1985. Some called it 'President' and others called it 'A__-hole' but now you can buy it for money from WOTC. I am really dissapointed that I purchased this game, especially since the game play is as shallow as it was 15 years ago. True, the game is fine as a drinking game, but any silly game can be fun when you are drinking...

A hit-and-miss game, great with the right crowd
April 21, 2002

The Great Dalmuti is the most recent incarnation of an older Chinese card game which rewards the player in first place and penalizes the player in last place. Life isn't fair, and neither is this card game, which is actually part of its charm. When one is stuck in last place, there is a very real incentive to get out of that position as quickly as possible, so the play of the game is that much easier.

The rules suggest that this pecking order be taken to extremes, with the Greater Peon (last place) player having to sit under the table, or engage in other menial tasks, while the Greater Dalmuti gets privileges, like the comfiest chair, or the best food.

The gameplay itself is simple, with card sets being played in turn and the last person able to play leading the next trick. In this way it is no different from most other trick-taking games. What is an original touch is that each lower rank of card is more plentiful, so there are 11 low-ranking 11's in the deck, but only a single 1-rank card, which is the highest card. If a player leads 3 cards of the same value, it can only be beaten by a set of three cards of a higher value, so there is a limit to how high a set can win each trick. I hope this makes sense!

Dalmuti is a good game, but by no means a great game. There are certainly those who consider it a great game, but I would opine that these players have a good game group that gets into the playing of the various roles, and not that the game itself is creating the level of fun and entertainment.

If you have a good group of players who can be uninhibited and get into playing out the various levels of Dalmuti society, then by all means, get this game. If, on the other hand, you want a thoughtful trick-taking game that requires deep play and strategy, look elsewhere.

by Jorge D
Great fun for all
August 27, 2001

I think Great Dalmuti is one of the best society games I have ever played. It is very fast, highly addictive, all the family can play it, and--best of all--it is extremely fun. Even if you don't want to act the different roles and instead play it as a plain cardgame (as we had to do when our 70-year-old aunt played with us), it is still a very enjoyable game.

The only real drawback is you need to have more than five people in order to play and more than six in order to really enjoy it. On the other hand, this makes Great Dalmuti a great game for parties.

Unoriginal ditch-your-cards game
July 31, 2001

This game comes well recommended by some, but for me it just fell flat. Similar to the card-deck game, Presidents, the object is to get rid of your (admittedly beautifully illustrated) cards. The difference from a card deck is that there are 12 12's, 11 11's etc. But since your hand is completely random, the game itself depends heavily on luck of the deal.

Some would say that the play of the game is secondary to the theme, which is really all the fun. In Great Dalmuti you get to mock/tease/insult the 'peon' while everyone has to brown-nose the 'Great Dalmuti' (think of it as role-playing lite.) There is some truth to that, but then why couldn't I play a more original game like Frank's Zoo using the same seating rules and thematic positioning? (In fact, that sounds like a great idea, and I may well incorporate it into my next game of Frank's Zoo--'elephant' for 'great dalmuti'; mosquito for 'peon'... think how much fun it could be! 'Everyone slap the mosquito!')

This game has nice art, but very dry gameplay. A far better game to purchase in the same vein would be Frank's Zoo, which has non-linear trick taking, unqiue scoring system, and fun illustrations. Frank's Zoo has gone over very well with my non-gamer friends, while Great Dalmuti had a cool reception at my game group.

A great game for humor with a crowd
April 06, 2001

I find this game a great one for parties, especially if comical hats are on hand for use (the peons have to wear the most ridiculous, and the Great Dalmuti gets to wear the coolest hat). The pecking order created by the previous round can create amusing scenes--if you happen to not be the ones at the bottom of the pecking order. Also, the cards all have beautiful and brightly colored pictures of the rank and character they represent. Most importantly, The Great Dalmuti is a card game of strategy, and the thrill of trying to be at the top, to wear the hat of the Great Dalmuti him(her)self.

Great Game
March 11, 2001

This is a fabulous game. It allows for enough strategy to make it fun and isn't very hard to pick up and learn. It is fun with more then 5 or 6 players. I've tried with less, but it isn't the same. Our family has played with more than 9 and it is hilarious. I would recommend this game, hands down.

Good for role-players
November 02, 2000

Don't let the Mensa seal fool you (and that's true for all games with their seal). If one pays the registration fee to Mensa, there's a good chance of getting the award.

That aside, this game is silly fun, but certainly not strategic. It's just another incarnation of Karriere Poker with the added element of role-playing. If you have someone at the table who hams it up by playing the Greater Peon to the hilt, you'll enjoy it. But if you sit down to play it as a serious game (or just for fun, but no one gets into the acting), you'll be sorely disappointed.

Not for everyone
October 26, 2000

Before you rush to buy this popular game, you should be warned that it is not unanimously adored.

The promotional literature will tell you that everyone from bridge experts to non-gamers will enjoy this game. Apparently my group of regular gamesters represents that part of the population who depart from the majority opinion. We despised it.

The play of the cards in the first place is not especially interesting--Uno is probably a better game in the get-rid-of-all-your-cards family, and I Doubt It is certainly better--and the hilarity which would supposedly ensue when everyone rearranged their seating, hats, etc., at the end of each hand somehow fell completely flat at our table.

If you want to play a nonsense game, this is an appropriate choice, and I wish you happiness with it. For me and others of my ilk, however, it simply has no appeal.

by David
Why is someone sitting under the table?
April 04, 2000

Simple game with some room for strategy but that's not what it's about. I would categorize this as a party game rather then a card game since there really is no winner and the fact that you get up and rearrange yourselves after each game means it can not be taken too seriously. It is best played with 5 or more but will work with 4. There are 80 cards numbered 1 through 12 and 2 jokers. The number on the card also tells you how many of the card are in the game. One 1, eight 8s etc. All players sit according to the rank they achieved in the previous game and the 2 bottom players are penalized by having to give up their best cards to the 2 top players. The Great Dalmuti, having earned that title by coming in first in the previous game, gets to go first and lays down sets or singles of any card he wants. The next player has to lay down the same quantity of a lower number or pass. This goes around the table until everyone has passed and then the player who laid down the last set gets to lead off the next round with any set he chooses to play. Whomever empties his or her hand first is the Great Dalmuti in the next game and play continues until only one player is left. Players then rearrange themselves according to how they finished, the cards are shuffled, dealt and it all starts again. All kinds of abuse is heaped on the Greater Peon (the last player) from having to shuffle and deal to getting drinks for the Great Dalmuti. We have even made the GP sit under the table and play a couple of times. If someone gets stuck as the GP for a long time it can be a drag but most of the time everyone moves around a lot. Highly recommended for large groups.

by Tash
best party game I've ever played
December 06, 1999

I think this game is desparately underated. This game is a guarantee that you'll get a laugh... we have held parties around this game and every one of them has been a raging success .... we brought out the hats, rated the chairs and played (and laughed) till ungodly hours .... I'm sure we kept the neighbours up. Be careful that its game for 4 at least though better with more.... This game beats Bohnanza ANY day. I reckon Wizards of the Coast could sell this with a guarantee ...and never get any back.

by Mike
Petty Abuses of Tyranny Abound in the Great Dalmuti!
December 05, 1999

The Great Dalmuti is incredible entertainment! The concept has been around as a card game variant for years...

The object of the game is simple, get rid of your cards. The person to get rid of their cards first is crowned 'the Great Dalmuti'. The person who goes out second is 'the Lesser Dalmuti', and sits on the right of the Great Dalmuti. Each player who goes out takes the next available space until the last player to go out, who is the 'Greater Pee-On' and sits directly to the left of the Great Dalmuti. So what's the catch?

Everyone sitting to the right has to do what the Great Dalmuti says until that game round is over with. Everyone sitting to the right of the Lesser Dalmuti must do what he says and so on, around the table. Needless to say, the Greater Pee-on works very hard.

This is a game where props can be very entertaining. We make the Dalmuti wear a Burger King cardboard crown, and the Pee-On sits on the floor. Its always fun to be a petty tyrant Dalmuti and making people sit with their legs crossed certain ways, stand or sit in a whim. Conversely, I've seen Pee-Ons who brown nose really well. My favorite way to play the Pee-on is a whiner. (Please, not again. I HATE shuffling those cards, etc.)

Please note that this game needs a minimum of five players to make it fun. This aside, buy this game and you will know the joy of chanting at the top of your lungs, I'm the Great Dalmuti! (singing)

(For some reason they wanted to stop playing after I won four rounds in a row)

by Paula
Simple rules, Real strategy, Amusing Edition
November 30, 1999

This classic game has persisted under many names because, like many classics, it has rules which are simple to learn but underneath the simplicity lies the opportunity for strategic play. It may take you several games to begin to learn and apply these choices. For instance, it's not whether you win the hand that counts but whether you get rid of your cards first.

The Great Dalmuti edition of the game is well explained and produced. It held the interest of a diverse group for about 2 years of weekly lunch-time games.

I urge you to get into the spirit of this game to enjoy it on more than one level - for our lunch game, we used different hats for the players' ranks, which the players could choose in order. The dalmuti had a crown. The peon, of course, always had to wear a pointy cardboard hat. Yes, it's silly - that's the point! It helps people get into the spirit of playacting and having a good time. (But close the door of the meeting room before you put on the silly hats - the boss might not understand!)

If the humorous slant is not for you, you can play it seriously - it'll still be fun.

If life isn't fair, why should this card game be?
February 07, 1999

'Life isn't fair!' So says the box containing one of the simplest and most entertaining card games to come along in a while.

The cards, which are beautifully detailed in rich color, range in value from 1 to 13, with one of the 1 cards, two of the 2 cards, etc., plus two jokers, which are wild cards. The goal each hand is to get rid of all your cards as quickly as possible. After someone leads a group of same-value cards (such as four 7's), those who follow must play the same number of cards in a lesser value (such as four 5's) or pass. The last to play leads next, and so on, until everyone empties their hand.

Once a hand is played, the first player to have gone out becomes the Greater Dalmuti, sits at the head of the table (in the best chair, if you really want to get into the spirit of the game!) and leads the next hand. The second to have gone out is the Lesser Dalmuti, who now sits to the left of the Greater Dalmuti and plays second. The last player to empty his hand is the Greater Peon, and the next-to-last player is the Lesser Peon. (The Greater Peon should be sitting in a rickety fold-up chair or, better yet, make him stand to shuffle the cards!) Any other players are considered middle-class merchants who enjoy no special benefit or penalty.

The importance of all this 'musical chairs' is that, normally, at the start of each hand, the Greater Dalmuti can 'tax' the Greater Peon of his two best (lowest-valued) cards, trading any two in return. The Lesser Peon must give his best card to the Lesser Dalmuti for whatever the latter wants to dump. However, if any player holds both jokers, he can call a Revolution and end the tax for that hand. If the holder is the Greater Peon, then it's a Greater Revolution, and players trade places, with the peons becoming the dalmutis and vice versa!

The Great Dalmuti is a great party game, but those who like serious card games certainly will enjoy the decisions that need to be considered with every play. This surprisingly challenging game from Wizards of the Coast goes to the head of the class with an A+!

Other Resources for The Great Dalmuti:

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