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He who always wins, loses.
Is this familiar? One moment everything is in perfect harmony; then a crazy bird comes out of the blue and you're in danger of losing your balance. In real life, as in this game, you need nerves of steel to keep going along the tightrope.
In this game, the winner of each trick gets points, as does the loser. This can be good or bad: if you always win or always lose, you'll get out of balance. Keeping your balance is what this game is all about.
This game is excellent! Simple one of the best games that I have and its a great choice to play with friend that doesnt like 'heavy' boardgames. There is luck, but the the strategy is much more important. Those who think this game have much luck arent playing it right. The first rounds are the most important. If you play anything you will need luck in the next rounds. But if you try to maximize your chances playing high or lower cards in the first rounds, youre goind to heve better options latter. The problems is that most of players dont think this way, so they give up on any chance of winning in the first round. Theres more strategy on it than you can think!
This game is a great filler. You know, not ready to call it quits? Too late for another round of Catan? I really had a great time with it. My friends, on the other hand, were clamoring for another game of hearts... not for everyone, but a keeper in my closet :)
Drahtseilakt is a quick bidding type game with the classic Knizia emphasis on mathematical calculation. However, unlike Ra and It's Mine, the mechanism behind this game is much simpler and, I think, more sophisticated.
The basic idea is that you are walking on a tightrope: success is measured by the extent to which you remain balanced. Each player is dealt nine cards with numbers ranging from 1 to 50. Nine rounds or tricks will be played. Whoever wins a trick (by bidding the highest card) takes a specific number of blue rods. Whoever loses the same trick (by bidding the lowest card) takes that same number of red rods. Each round the number of rods to be won and lost changes. Now, blue and red, like winning and losing, balance each other out. For example, if you just won 8 blues, you want to try to lose a later trick or tricks to balance those out with reds. The goal is, at the end of nine rounds, to have the lowest difference between blue and red. The ultimate goal would be to never win or lose a trick, and sometimes this is possible. But the beauty of the game is that you can often balance out an off-balance hand by bidding for a big win or loss.
The instructions suggest that a few games be played and the scores from each summed. If you have zero game you can even erase your worst previous game! This helps balance out the luck element, which is large, but also makes Drahtseilakt lots of fun. Also, for those familiar with German games the quality of the pieces will not disappoint: the graphics on the cards are cute and the blue and red balancing rods look just like the streets from The Settlers of Catan!
Add this clever Knizia game to your collection!
Balance: a worthy goal in life, now achievable in a card game near you. Deal everyone nine cards at random from a deck numbered 1 to 50. Turn up the next card from the scoring card deck. Everyone plays a numbered card, and the person who plays the highest number gets the number of blue sticks indicated by the scoring card. The person who plays the lowest number gets the equivalent number of red sticks. At the end of the nine-trick round, each person scores the difference between his blue sticks and red sticks. After a predetermined number of rounds have been played, the lowest total wins. This is one of the few games we know of in which it can be advantageous to hold cards that are neither high nor low.
Once or twice a year, I become enamored with a heretofore obscure card game. In the past, it's been such games as Pepper, Robin Hood, Nicht die Bohne, etc. This year, I can add Sticheln and now Drahtseilakt to the list.
Drahtseilakt was designed by none other than Reiner Knizia and released by ASS. It has been around since 1999, but I had never even heard of the game until my good friend Ted Cheatham taught me the game while we were at Mark Jackson's home for an intensive weekend of gaming back in January. I immediately ordered a copy and have been showing the game to others at every opportunity.
In Drahtseilakt ("Tightrope"), players try to perfectly balance their collection of red and blue rods. Ideally, you want a perfect balance, which means you will have a net of zero rods. More of one color than the other will result in negative points.
The game consists of a deck of 50 cards, numbered 1 to 50. Each player receives a certain number of these cards each turn (nine with five players). Several cards are out of play (five with five players), which prevents those more mentally astute players from perfectly exercising their card counting abilities. Further, there are nine 'balance' cards numbered 1 to 9. These cards depict a man trying furiously to balance himself on a tightrope, with the number depicted on the card being shown in both red and blue. In addition, there are two 'balance' cards valued at zero, one each in red and blue.
Each round, one of the 'balance' cards is revealed and players, one at a time beginning with the player who played the highest card the previous round, each play cards face-up to the table. After each player lays a card, the player who played the high card is forced to take a number of blue rods equal to the value on the 'balance' card, while the player who played the lowest card must take a corresponding number or red rods. This process continues until each player has depleted all of their cards. If a player has collected rods of one color (let's say blue) and later collects rods of the other color (red), he only keeps the net difference in the rods, returning the remainder to the stack. For instance, if Willerd collected 8 blue rods on one round, then later collects 5 red rods, he only keeps 3 blue rods.
Play continues in this fashion until the players have played all of their cards. Points are recorded equal to the number of rods each player has collected and a new turn is begun. We usually play four rounds, with the player with the lowest score (closest to zero) being the winner.
The game forces players to cleverly manage their cards so as to avoid taking rods. Sometimes, however, a player will want to take rods, especially if he had previously collected rods of the opposite color. However, since there is only one of each number in the 'balance' deck, it is impossible to wipe out a set of rods with just one card. So, in addition to managing your cards properly, you also have to remember which cards have already been revealed in a round and battle for the appropriate ones.
The game can be insidious as you attempt to avoid collecting rods and force your opponents to take rods. Or, as mentioned, many times you find yourself trying to take rods to offset previously collected ones. This is sometimes easy, but only if no one else is attempting to collect those same rods. Further, as each hand is played, you have fewer and fewer cards in your hand, so your choices become increasingly limited. Hand management is critical.
But wait -- there's a few more twists. I mentioned the two zero cards. If one of these surfaces in the 'balance' deck, the next card is revealed and the zero card is placed over the corresponding side. So, if the blue zero card is revealed, it is placed over the blue number on the next balance card. This means the player who plays the highest card in that round will get zero blue rods. This often provides an opportunity for players to dump a high valued card, but it can also wreak havoc on your plans if the zero card covers a number you were counting on acquiring! Further, it is quite possible that one or both of the zero cards will not surface during a round, so you can't rely on these appearing when making your plans.
The final twist is really interesting and serves the purpose of keeping everyone in contention, even if they had a previous lousy turn. If a player manages to score a 'zero' in a turn, he can wipe out one of his scores from a previous round. So, even if you scored a disastrously high number in a previous round, there is always hope that you can erase that score with a perfect zero in a later round. I've seen several folks win the game on the last turn by accomplishing the enviable feat.
As mentioned earlier, the player playing the highest card in a round leads the next round. Playing first and second are the least desirable positions to be in, as it allows everyone else to attempt to play between these two values if they wish to avoid taking any of the rods that round, or go over or under if they are attempting to grab rods. So, although you might need to grab those blue rods to offset a previous acquisition, you also must consider the dangers of being forced to lead the following round. Careful hand management is essential to play well and score low!
Throughout the game, you have those tough little decisions that have to be made. The natural inclination is to attempt to avoid taking any rods for as long as possible. However, this may not always be the best strategy, especially if you have a hand with an abundance of high and/or low cards. You really have to adapt your strategies to the cards you are dealt.
I've now played this game with a wide variety of folks, from gamers, to spouses and children. It's gone over well in all environments. I'm amazed this game hasn't received more press. It really is a hidden gem.