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The Shadow Thief has struck again during the night! The next morning the guests at the Grand hotel desperately try to save their jewels, but only the player who manages to save the most valuable pieces will win the game.
Der Schattendieb (The Shadow Thief) is another in the series of seemingly endless little card games that keep popping up. This one has nice graphics, plays fast, and works with seven people (a nice plus), but unfortunately its randomness outweighs a few nice features.
The card deck consists of jewelry cards of four types with values from one to ten each. Twenty "locked safe" cards add to this with values from four to 15, then the deck rounds out with seven "open safe" cards and five thief cards. Each player gets an Open Safe card to place in front of them, and through the round they try to collect as many valuable jewels as possible in their safe and lock it in time to be able to score the points. Lock it too early, though, and you'll be watching everyone else collect points while you sit and wait. Lock it too late, and you'll score nothing at all.
The cards (minus the Open Safes, of course) are shuffled and each player receives four. Everyone plays a card and they are simultaneously revealed, at which point the action occurs. First, any cards with common numbers cancel each other. Once these are removed, any thief played gets to steal. Each of four thieves can steal only one kind of jewel, and if it was played and not canceled the thief-player takes it and puts it in their safe. The single "Shadow Thief" card can take any open jewelry card, and this card steals before a more common thief. Anyone who still has jewelry cards left then can add other cards of the same type jewel and put all of them in their safe, meaning on top of their Open Safe card.
If a Locked Safe card is played and it survives the matching process, the player locks their safe by covering their jewelry stack with the card. Here is where the fun of the round comes in, as the last person to lock their safe cannot take credit for anything they've collected. To add to this, if all of the safes open at the start of the play are closed together, none of them score that round. So, once the first safe is closed, it becomes very risky to continue to play jewel cards for very long.
The game plays in three rounds and works well enough. With only four cards each hand, your choice is usually to play the lowest of a matching set if you have one unless you're ready to lock. You are not guaranteed a Lock Safe card although there are plenty of them; it is more likely that you will be limited in your choice of Jewel cards because you are holding several Lock Safes. The matching number cancellation is more annoying than strategic; master card counters may be able to best assess their probability of survival but wouldn't waste their brainpower. It serves best to disrupt things and is most amusing when someone's Lock Safe gets bounced for this reason.
Der Schattendieb is like many games where you will be happy to play a few rounds and then say "what else?". There are more clever games with similar weight that makes this one questionable. After buying this you many feel like it was your wallet that got taken by the Shadow Thief!