The Bucket King
English language edition of Alles im Eimer
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It's bucket-cleaning day on the farm and the children and animals are making a game of it. The children build pyramids with the clean buckets and the animals rush from pyramid to pyramid, trying to knock the buckets down. In the end, the player who has the strongest pyramid and best uses the animals to knock down others' buckets will win the game and be crowned bucket king!
This game is great fun and perfect for those times when you can't decide what to play. Plays well with all types of gamers old and young.
It's kind of unpredictable and you never really know who'll win until the very end. I've held my buckets the longest and then lost them all in 2 or 3 rounds!!...
Most enjoyable, pick it up.
Every once in a while, a game comes along that I really want to dislike, but somehow becomes a favorite (Medici comes to mind too.) Well, this game has a lot working against it for me: the English-language title is kind of weak, I really don't like the box art, I don't like the card art -- but I really like this game.
Randall Peek descibes the game well enough, so I will just try and communicate what I like about it: it is simple and fun. Each player starts off with 3 buckets in each color and makes a 'pyramid' out of them. Then a player plays a set of cards in a color. On your turn, all you do is raise the previous bid. If you can't, you lose a bucket in that color and any buckets that were on top of the bucket are lost too. If you can raise the bid, then the next player has to try and beat it. Around and around we go. The fun is in trying to hose other players' bucket-piles, and trying to decide when to take a hit yourself, or up the bid.
The game is so simple a 5 year old could play (I am quite serious), but hardened gamers even seem to really like this one too. It is simple, and you don't have a lot of control, but there seems to be some strategy in building your bucket-pile at the beginning, and their seems to be an illusion of control that somehow satisfies even if there does seem to be a lot of chaos.
This is one of the better non-gamer games I have ever player because of theme, the shorter playing time, the simplicity of rules, and the fun decisions each turn. It doesn't really 'wow' you, but it never seems to get boring. This could be a runaway hit...but just don't call it the Bucket King! It's the bucket game!
Alles im Eimer is better known amoung English-speaking gamers as The Bucket Game. It is a fairly lightweight card game with a couple interesting mechanics to its play, and it plays quickly. This is just enough to elevate this game to classic filler status. It is fun, fast, silly fun.
Each player is dealt 12 cards from a thick deck of 110 cards in 5 suits. Card values range from 1 to 8. After evaluating their hands, players each build a pyramid of fifteen bucket counters, 3 of each of the five colors. Well-represented colors usually wind up at the base of the pyramid, while those that have few or no cards tend to wind up higher in the pyramid. Why? More on that in a moment...
The first player lays down 1 to 3 cards of one suit, attacking the pyramid of the player to her left, then draws a card. The next player can defend by playing 1 to 3 cards of that suit with a higher total, which moves the attack on to the next player, and so on. The attack goes around and around until a player can not or does not choose to defend against it. A bucket of that color is removed from that player's pyramid, as well as any higher buckets supported by it. This player then starts the next attack, and then draws a card.
Play continues in this fashion until one or two pyramids have been completely dismantled, in which case the winner is the player with the most buckets remaining. There is not a lot of depth or strategy here, but it is a fun game with a real feeling of one-upsmanship. It is great fun to see a seemingly impregnable pyramid suddenly fall when one of the lowest buckets is removed, taking its higher neighbors along for the ride. Fun as long as it isn't your pyramid, that is!
The game is more fun with more players, but is still playable by as few as two. This is a wonderful family game, and should appeal to hardcore gamers as a good opener or closer for the evening. Recommended.
Whenever we have guests over for dinner, I always try to slip in a game afterwards. This is usually a very simplistic game, one that will hopefully appeal to their other tastes. If they like party games, I pull out Barbarossa. If they like board games, I pull out Carcassonne. But if they like card games, The Bucket King is the game of the hour.
Is the Bucket King (Rio Grande Games, 2002 Stefan Dora) worth getting? I find that this game is an excellent way to introduce people to euro games, and is extremely easy to learn and teach. The theme is strange (animals knocking over buckets?) but it seems to work, and Ive had great success with both children and adults when playing this game. Now for more explanation
First, a description of game play.
A deck of 110 cards is shuffled and 12 of them are dealt to each player. The remainder of the cards form a draw deck for all players. There are five suits, represented by a color and animal. Each suit contains 22 cards, and has numeric values, from 1 to 8. Each player is also given 15 cardboard bucket counters. They are to set up a pyramid of these buckets in front of them, with five buckets forming the base, and 4 on top of that, etc. After all players have sorted the cards in their hands and built their pyramids, the game begins. One player starts, and each player then follows in clockwise order.
On a players turn, they pick one of the suits in their hand, and play 1-3 cards of that color in front of them on the table. They then draw the top card from the deck, and pass to the next player. The next player must play 1-3 cards of the same suit that have a total value greater than the cards played by the previous player. (For example, if I play green pig cards values 6 and 5, the next player must play 1-3 cards that have a total value of 12 or more.) If the player cannot play cards, they must lose a bucket of that color from their pyramid. If the player can play cards with greater value, play passes to the next player. If play continues all the way around the table to the starting player, the players may then add 1-3 cards and add them to their total already on the table (as long as they are of the same color). Play continues until one player must lose a bucket.
A player can lose any bucket from the pyramid, as long as its the same color as the played cards. However, if any buckets rest on top of the removed bucket, they also fall down, so its generally a good idea to remove buckets from the top of the pyramid if possible. If a player has no more buckets of the played color, they can remove any color bucket they wish. If a player removes a bucket that divides the pyramid into 2 pyramids, they must lose buckets until only one pyramid remains. After the player loses their bucket(s), all played cards are discarded, and the player who lost the bucket begins the next round.
The game is over when one pyramid is destroyed (2 pyramids for 5-6 players). At this point, each player counts up the amount of buckets they have remaining in their pyramids, and the player with the most is the winner. Players can play several rounds, with the player who has the most points being the winner.
Some comments about the game
1). Components: The bucket counters are extremely high quality, being some of the best, thickest counters I have in any of my games. The colors of the buckets are fairly easy to distinguish, although it would be difficult for someone who is color-blind. The cards are less difficult, as each color has a picture of a different farm animal. The cards are good quality, with a somewhat lackluster backing but decent artwork on the faces. Both the counters and the cards fit very easily in a good-sized box (maybe too big?) that has a plastic insert that holds everything well. (The plastic insert has a big bucket to hold all the bucket counters how cute) For a simple game, it has high quality components.
2). Rules: This is one of the easiest games I have ever taught, and people pick it up quite quickly. A four page fully-colored, illustrated pamphlet explains the rules of the game. The rules are printed clearly to the point of over explaining the rules (although thats never a bad thing.)
3). Strategy: I really like this game because there are a lot of strategic decisions in it. However, the luck in the game is very prevalent, and the decisions dont affect it too much. But I like these decisions because they teach newcomers to the hobby (and children) to MAKE these decisions, and the value of a decision made. For example, building the starting pyramid is a little strategic. It would be stupid to put all three buckets of one color on the bottom row, as a player could potentially lose a lot of buckets on the first turn. But at the same time, buckets of the colors a player has the most cards for should be placed lower in the pyramid, while other colors should be placed higher. There are also strategic decisions on what cards should be played each turn. Should a player play three cards, making it extremely hard for the next player to exceed their amount, but knowing that they will only draw one card to take the place of three cards they played limiting their options later on? Players also learn to play cards that match buckets that are low on the pyramid of the player next to them, so that the player will lose more buckets. People who are good at counting cards played will like this game, as they can watch what cards people play/dont play and plan their moves accordingly
4). Portal Game: But I dont find playing this game a challenge. I dont think I would ever pull it out when with some serious gamers. The strategic decisions dont offset the luck that much, for me to like the game. However, almost every card player that Ive taught the game to LOVES it, and they learn about decision-making. This leads them into wanting to play more and more games, and I can then teach them more complicated more strategic games.
5). Children: Most childrens games arent fun for adults, but this is one that covers the generation gap. Children pick up on the rules quite easily, and adults will find themselves hard pressed to defeat them. This game is truly a family game, and I plan to teach my daughter at an extremely early age.
6). Fun Factor: The theme is tacked onto the game I mean, who cares about cows and pigs kicking over buckets? (Well, kids think its funny) But the game still provokes a light-hearted, enjoyable time. Almost everyone I teach it to wants to play another round immediately after the first one. A lot of yelling when a player must lose a low bucket occurs, and a lot of laughing by everyone else usually drowns it out. But the games usually come very close, so rarely does anyone leave the game thinking that they had no chance to win. Its a fun, satisfying experience for those who play.
So I have to recommend The Bucket King highly. If you plan to entice others to joining this great hobby of ours, board games then this is one of the best games to utilize. It works well for all ages, and is extremely short to teach, learn and play. The components are well-done, and the theme, though weak, helps a little. The decision making is what is most important about the game, as it is an excellent filler to teach beginners that not everything depends on the roll of the dice, or draw of the cards. Get this game, and teach others to love games, too!
This is an incredibly deceiving game. It looks like a kid's farming game, but BGoR tried it & had six adults cussing like sailors in port as we watched our buckets fall.
Three to six players start w/ 12 cards of various colors / values and fifteen buckets; three each of five colors. You arrange your pyramid of buckets after evaluating the strengths & weakness of your opening hand. Play begins w/ a player laying down 1, 2, or 3 cards of the same color and stating the total. Player to the left must beat that total in the same color or lose a matching bucket. Should that bucket support any other buckets, they fall as well. Most importantly, regardless of the number of cards you play, you only draw ONE back into your hand. When two or three pyramids are gone, the game ends. Player with most buckets left, wins.
The Bucket King is organized chaos. There is an obvious luck of the shuffle / draw, but hand management is the key to success. As you only draw one card at a time, your hand and flexibility diminishes if you play too strongly at the beginning. The fewer cards in your hand, the more vulnerable your pyramid becomes. How you build your bucket pyramid is critical. While you should place buckets you're weak in towards the top, don't put all your strong colors at the bottom. Your opponents will go after those colors viciously causing major damage to your pyramid and your ego! Be willing to sacrifice a few buckets at the top to preserve your hand for the end game.
Bucket King is hampered by less than standard production values. The buckets are a soft, muted color scheme. The matching card colors are also hard to distinguish. The font used for the card values is also weak. Some of the cards are printed w/ all values facing one direction, while others are top / bottom reversed. The cards and buckets should be bright solid colors w/ uniformity in the cards. A publishing oversight.
There are already variants coming out, so Bucket King will undoubtedly be around for a while as it is versatile and easy to play. BGoR rate it '4' star on fun, '2' star on production value, making it a net '3'. Moo...
Arrange your 15 colored buckets strategically into a pyramid design, guided by the cards you're dealt.
The starting player discards up to three cards of one color, announces their total value, and draws one replacement, whereupon the next player discards cards of that color of greater value. The first player who cannot discard loses a bucket of that color. All buckets left unsupported by two below also disappear. The loser discards first in the next round. When a pyramid disappears, your remaining buckets earn points; most points over several rounds wins.
Rio Grande's translation of last year's Games 100 selection Alles Im Eimer (Kosmos) ensures that this fast-paced, addictive game won't kick the bucket any time soon. In fact, many other card games pail by comparison.
Who said kicking buckets wasn't fun? Everyone gets 15: three in each color shown on the numbered cards. Arrange your buckets into a 5/4/3/2/1 pyramid, guided by the colors of your cards in hand. The starting player discards up to three cards of one color, announces their total value, and draws one replacement card. Subsequent players in turn must discard the same color to exceed the previous contestant's total, or lose a bucket of that color. If this leaves a bucket unsupported by two in the row below it, that bucket also vanishes! The loser discards first in the next round. Play ends with one pyramid demolished, and players score for remaining buckets. Most points wins after several hands. You'll get plenty of kicks from this jolly attacking game, to be released soon by Rio Grande.
The latest in the medium box sized series from Kosmos is at the lighter end of the spectrum and that also covers the theme. The game is about knocking down buckets. These are set up in the shape of a pyramid and cards are played to determine which bucket falls over and then which other ones fall as a result.
The buckets come in 5 colours and each player receives three of each. Before the pyramids are formed, players are dealt 12 cards, which are also in the same five colours. The cards are numbered 1-8 and your initial hand will be used in determining how your pyramid is set up.
Play starts with a player playing one to three cards of the same colour from their hand. The player on the left then has to "defend" this by playing one to three cards in this same colour whose total exceeds that of the cards played. If this is not possible, or if the player chooses not to defend the position, a bucket of that colour is lost. If the bucket is not off the top of the remainder of the pyramid, then other buckets will fall and the pyramid will be smaller. You will then get the chance to play to the player on your left. If the defence is successful, the next player on the left has to defend the new total. That person can then decide what to do -- lose the bucket(s) or play cards to defend the position. The decision whether to defend the bucket will depend on which bucket would be lost. If it is one at the bottom, several more buckets will be lost. If it is at the top, it may only affect one bucket.
Knowing this, when a player receives the initial hand, the set up of the pyramid can reflect the strength of their hand or it may not. So if you start with three high value cards of the same colour, you may place the buckets nearer the bottom. Or you could bluff and put them nearer the top. Or double bluff and --, well you see what I mean. There is no right answer, as these cards can only be used to defend your position once. Cards played are discarded, but you only replace with one card, so your hand size depletes. Worse still, the player on your right may play a colour that you did not expect and cause you to lose several buckets.
A round ends when one or more (depending on the number of players) loses their last bucket. Each player scores one point for the buckets remaining in their pyramid. We play one round for each player, which means that there are some tactical decisions to make (and shouts of encouragement!) when a leading player's pyramid is successfully attacked.
That's all there is to this, and while there's lots of luck, the game is good fun. It's easy to play and non-regular gamers seem to enjoy the game's features too. I like the little touches that good games companies bring to their games and Kosmos has moulded the plastic tray in the shape of a bucket. Good job! And at 15 Euro, it's good value too.