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It's pouring buckets out and some sheep are getting wet feet. The water level continues to rise. Hopefully the lighthouse will be able to withstand the water -- and the onslaught of sheep. This game was a nominee for Spiel des Jahres 2001. AMIGO now presents this version with new graphics.
I don't think that any card game can ever aspire to take Bohnanza's place as most replayable card game of all time (at least, not in my tastes.) In fact, if I could give one card game 6 stars just to acknowledge how much better it is than any other card game in order to make giving 5 star ratings to other card games more reasonable, then I'd give that 6-star rating to Bohnanza. Having said all that, I've got to give Land Unter 5 stars too.
You see, it's not my fascination with Stefan Dorra (though this is one more reason to be fascinated by his games), nor the wonderful artwork (comically illustrated, and wonderfully colored drowning sheep, lighthouses, and storm cards), it's the absolute uniqueness of gameplay that again wins the day.
Okay, so what you've got to do is keep your sheep afloat. Even if they are drowning, you do have a chance to rescue them by using up your life preservers, but since unused life preservers are your points at the end of the round, you of course do not want to use them.
So how do your sheep drown? Each player is dealt a hand of Weather cards (follow me here because there are 3 types of cards in this game). The Weather cards are numbered 1 to 60 with no duplicates. Now since the hands are dealt out randomly, like all other card games, one player may have a better hand than another player. UNLIKE other card games, this game has a built in handicapping system. At the top of each Weather card is either a blank, or a half a life preserver, or a whole life perserver. Before the round begins, players total up their life preservers and then take an equal amount of life preserver cards in front of them face up. The stronger your hand, the less Life Preserver (LPs) cards you get, the weaker your hand the more you get. Which means that having a weaker hand has more potential points -- but also more potential to use up those life preservers.
Now the Water Level (WL) cards are shuffled and placed in the center of the table. Now the top 2 are revealed. These cards depict sheep in various levels of flooding, numbered 1-12 (with two of each number), with 1 cards being safer than high cards. Now everone takes a Weather card from their hand secretly and reveals them simultaneously. This is where the game takes anotehr twist: the highest Weather card takes the LOWER Water Level; the second highest card takes the HIGHER Water Level card; everyone else gets off scot-free. If you've been crunching the numbers you now realize that you almost never want to be second, for it ensures you the worst card. But now another twist: the players place those Water Level cards in front of them, now players look around the table to see who has the highest Water Level card showing -- EVEN WATER LEVEL CARDS FROM PREVIOUS ROUNDS. So sometimes you WANT to be second if it means getting a lower Water Level than you currently possess. Whomever has the highest WL card at this point must turn over a Life Preserver to save their sheep. The round ends when either one person loses all their Life Preservers and their sheep drown (-1 point), or all 24 Water Level cards are given out, at which point each player receives a point for each Life Preserver preserved, with the person(s) with the lowest Water Level card showing getting a bonus point.
That is the game in a nut shell. Sound simple? Very much so. Very fun? Yes!
AND THAT IS NOT ALL!
Now everyone turns in all the Water Level cards (which are reshuffled), then takes ALL the Weather cards they played, and all the Life Preserver they had, and PASSES them to the player on their left. That's right: the next hand everyone plays the hand that the player on their right had to play. In this way, everyone must play everyone's hand!
Unique! Fun! Quick! Simple! This game is a wonderful family card game, and it's unique approach to balancing strength of hands should even click with gamers. True, it is light, but it is fun and deserves 5 stars as a recommended purchase.
As for 'Glug glug glug'? That's what we say every time some let's a sheep drown -- and that easily doubles the entertainment. =)
This one was clearly one of the best investments that I made into games. It has a quite original feel to it, which is somewhat close to 'Take 6', but with a couple of interesting twists that make it much, much more enjoyable. Everybody(!) I introduced to this game liked it!
Basically players use one of their cards (12 cards per player, cards show values from 1 to 60) each round to bid for 2 Tide cards, low tides being the good, high tides the bad ones. After each round the tides are checked and the one(s) with the highest tide lose a life saver.
The prime rule for bidding, however, is: 'Don't Go Second', as the highest card played gets to take the 'good' tide, but the second highest is left with the other (usually 'bad') tide. Of course, if the tides come right (or wrong), it doesn't matter which one you take. It is often advisable to just try to keep out of it completely, though not always possible, of course.
Thus it is obvious that the card hands may differ strongly in their usefullness (many high and low cards opposed to a lot of middle cards), however the game balances a bad hand nicely by providing proportionally more life savers with it. And thus the possibility to yield more points, as remaining life savers are counted and scored at the end of each game round. And after that you just pass on your hand & life savers to your neighbour and start over again. Repeat round until you have played everybody's hand!
The fun part of course is to see in the end who did well/not so well with what hand. There is a whole lot of double guessing your co-players and difficult decisions (as one bad decision may make the differenc between drowning and getting 3-4 points), and in the end everybody at least FEELS fairly treated and cannot blame bad Karma for having lost (although game results depend to a good extent on how the tides show up for bidding).
I brought this game on the table for the first time on a weekend I spent gaming with a few friends. It was midnight and I thought it would be a nice, little chill-out thing before we all called it a day.
We forced ourselves to finally stop around 8 o'clock in the morning...
My tip - go get it!
As in most game groups we have our favorite closer games, this game may be a little to long for that, but we still end up playing it towards the end of the night.
To me this game has the perfect mechanics to be a good card game. It's has a silly theme, it has a fast pace, you can't complain about a bad hand because you play them all. Oh yeah, it's fun too!
I think the other reviews will give you a good idea of what the game is about. I just wanted to give two thumbs up to my favorite card game. Our other two favorite card games are Take 6 and Rage!, but Land Unter is much better in my opinion.