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Gossip and rumors fly as players try to find out which stories are just gossip. Players must skillfully combine probing questions and answers. The winner is the player who has collected the most points by exposing the most rumors.
Card games. Closers all, or something more illustrious? Filler city, or the Golden Child? A question. When did you last start a session with a card game? You never have, have you? Shame on your house. And if we are all in the same boat, where's the Captain to chart our course? And at this point I step forward, telescope in hand, with a discourse for the plight of the game deck. This will take the form of a review of Hartmut Witt's charming Gerchte Kche (Gossip Factory), a whimsical foray into the art of detection, but via the simplest of all game devices.
Gerchte Kche is a crisp elimination contest. Players are trying to guess the denomination of a single card, removed from the 60 available (10 different types, six of each). These are quirkily illustrated by Thomas Hammer, but without an apparent theme, not that this matters a jot. The balance are dealt (odd distribution is irrelevant), and we are away.
To determine the absent card, players always ask the standard question (or "Rumour'' in game terms) "Do you have x (number) of xxxxx (object) cards?''. If the answer is positive, that player hands the inquisitor the cards. If the answer is "More'', then that must be the response. Conversely, if the player has fewer (or none) of the cards requested, then the reply will be "Less''. Play resumes with the player to the left of the interrogator.
Let's run through the opening sequence of play:
Pele has asked George if he has two Flag cards. George does, and passes them over. Luis, the player to the left of the questioner now asks Zinadane if he holds three Musical cards. He has just one, and spits out "Less''--he doesn't like Luis, and will not be invited back next week.
Ultimately, players will accumulate complete sets, and earn three points for doing so when revealed. That object can now be excluded from the hunt. If you are thinking "Help--pencil and paper!'', be reassured that you will assimilate knowledge fairly rapidly, and without resorting to the mail-order course "IQ of 165 And No memory?--Just $495 (including p&p)''.
At any point during proceedings, a player may communicate their educated guess as to the identity of the hidden "Rumour''. All other participants now reveal their cards of that type (*). If the conjecture is wrong (ie, six cards are proffered), that player is penalised five points and must reveal their hand. All other players now gain one point for each newly displayed card.
The action continues after any incorrect judgement with the player to the left of the miscreant. When the correct card is ultimately determined, it earns the identifying party 10 points.
Deduction games like Gerchte Kche (Sleuth comes immediately to mind) inevitably force some hasty guesswork. This is ill-advised, as the penalty is fairly severe. In fact, the overall balance is excellent, and I can't imagine many not completing a full round (one hand per player).
(*) The rules state that "players place their cards face-up on the table in front of them". This implies all cards, which would, of course, would be "fait accompli''. Assume I'm right until the letters flood in.