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Were you dealt a bad hand? Imagine that you receive your cards and you can decide your goal for yourself. This is not a dream, but first you have to go through a voting procedure with your fellow players. Or you may pass and score points immediately before the first trick has been taken. A first-class trick-taking card game, where you decide how good or bad your hand is.
Average Rating: 5 in 3 reviews
Boy, am I glad I picked this one up, mostly on a whim at a prize table, as many of the small German deck games were passed over for other stuff.
This game has revitalized the simple trick taking game by making the game into something even more thought-provoking. One has to not only figure out what to bid on, how much to bid, and when during the bidding stage, but must also then follow through with what ends up being the goals for the round. As one of my friends put it, you're always on 'damage control' of some kind, since 99% of the time, you're not going to get all the goals you wanted to for a given round.
Some people may say it doesn't sound fun or interesting, but it in fact makes for a very interesting and different game where planning and strategy play an even greater role than in most other trick taking games.
With the listing in Games 100, I was tempted to buy this card game just to try it out. When Funagain put it on sale recently I bought two and planned to give one away as a birthday present. I guess I'm going to have to order another one because both packs are being utilized now. I came home yesterday to find two games in progress.
The best way to describe this game is 'elegant'. There is great depth in both bidding and card play. It rewards being over-cautious as well as being risky. There is no such thing as a bad hand depending on how you bid. Tactics are subtle and the major and minor trumps challenge whist/bridge fans to think outside the box.
By the way, with everyone deep in thought over the game and nobody wanting to cook, we ordered out.
Guess what we ordered....
If you are looking for a new card game of the trick taking variety, this is a must have.
Pisa is a card game with 4 suits 0-13. A player is dealt 13 cards (4 remain unused in a 4 player game) and a bidding round ensues. Three things will be determined during the bidding round. First the color of a major and minor trump will be bid for. Second, players bid on whether the hand will be played to see who gets the most tricks or the fewest. Finally, players bid on rank of the cards (i.e. 0 outranks 1 which outranks 2 etc. or 13, outranks 12 which outranks 11, etc.)
Again, starting with trump, bidding is determined by having each player in turn place face down 1-3 cards from their hand on the trump they want to see played for the hand. After all four players have done this, cards are turned over and the point totals tallied. The suit with the most points is trump for the hand. The process is then repeated for the next two bids - most or least tricks and rank of cards. After the bidding round, players will have bid between 3 and 9 cards. Each player totals up the points he/she has bid and the player bidding the lowest total points scores 4, the next lowest scores 3 etc.
Now the play round begins. Standard rules for each trick apply - players must follow suit if possible. At the end of the play round the player with the most or least tricks (depending on what is determined in the bid phase) will score 8 points, 2nd scores 6, etc.). The game is played so each player gets a chance to deal and the high score wins.
The bidding phase of the game is the key to this game's success. Each player must evaluate and reevaluate their hand after each bid is determined. If you don't get the trump suit you want, try to force the hand to take the fewest tricks. If you get the type of hand you want (least or most), now you can bid on the rank of cards in your hand. And if you don't get any of your choices or your hand just looks bad from the start, you can always bid very low to score maximum points from the bid round keeping you in the game. Pisa is slightly reminiscent of Njet! which also used bidding to determine hand worth, but here is works so much better.
The game plays in about an hour and will play for 5 players. The depth of thought that goes into each bid is amazing and makes each hand interesting and fresh. After a few playings in my group Pisa is a huge hit and will serve very nicely as a starting game or end game for an evening's play. One minor complaint is that the numbers are somewhat hard to read, but the colors of the suits are sufficiently differentiated. The price for the game is great so plan on getting your money's worth. I highly recommend this for gamers, card players and casual card play after dinner parties.
Deal each player 13 cards (11 cards if there are five players), in four suits numbered 0 to 13. Before trick-taking, three bidding rounds determine: (1) colors of major and minor trumps; (2) whether fewest or most tricks taken wins; and (3) whether low or high cards win. You bid at least one card (up to three) facedown to any choice in each phase. The rule allocated the highest total value (in cards from one or more players) becomes law. Bid cards earn points, with the lowest total awarded the most points. You retrieve all but three bids for use in trick-taking, where players score according to how they finish. Highest score after all have dealt wins. Constant reevaluation of your hand during the bids requires a lot of hard thinking, but it's guaranteed to keep you engrossed and hopeful. Even passionate lovers of trick-taking battles will find this no Pisa cake!