David & Goliath
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Who will win this battle of strength and wits? Goliath (highest) cards are stronger and can capture more cards, but by cleverly playing the David (lowest) card, it allows you to take the highest card in that trick. Capture cards and increase your score, but more is not always merrier!
The twist in David & Goliath is that each card is worth its face value, up to two cards per color. If you have more than two per color, each is now worth only one point! It's the Large vs. the Small in this fun family game, where a clever balance of the two will help you win the battle!
After reading several glowing reviews about this one, I decided to give it a try. Boy, am I ever glad that I did! This is one of those rare games whose rules can be related in only a few sentences, but requires *many* sessions of playing to get a decent sense of the strategies.
My only caveat is that while the box states that it is a game for 3-6 players, I don't recommend it with less than 4. While you certainly *can* play it with only 3 players, it's a far stronger gaming experience with 4, 5, or 6 gathered around the table.
Anyway, if you like simple games, with very elusive strategies, I can't recommend this game more highly. This game, along with Hol's der Geier, stand out among card games for generating so much fun with such extremely clever and simple rules. Highly recommended.
60 seconds to learn. Devilishly difficult to win. A great blend of skill and chance where any family member can win the game. A card game where every trick has a twist and turn to it as you try to improve your point score and/or harm your opponent's ability to get a good score.
One of my favorite stories to tell in Children's Church is the story of David and the giant Goliath. The story appeals to every small child who faces big challenges in their life and always keeps them fascinated. When I heard that there was a card game version of David and Goliath (Playroom Entertainment, 2004 - Reinhard Staupe), I was initially wary, since I've found that most games with Biblical themes are usually garbage or worse. Still, I saw a couple of good reviews on the internet, so gladly participated in a demo of the game when at Origins one summer.
And I was amazed at just how much fun the game really was. The idea was simple, really - have the small card take the largest card, and the largest card take the rest - but it just worked well. I immediately enjoyed playing the game, and it has remained, since then, one of my favorite trick-taking games. It's enjoyable because I can get many people to play the game - some who normally don't play games at all, and I've seen many "non-gamers" fall in love with the game, requesting it time after time. It's destined to be a classic card game, one on the top tier.
There are five suits of cards in the game, denoted by color (red, yellow, blue, green, and purple). Values of each suit (depending on the number of players) are added to the deck, from 1 to 18. The deck is shuffled, and fifteen cards are dealt to each player. On a round, the starting player chooses any card and plays it on the table. Each other player must "follow suit" (play the same color), placing it in front of them. If a player doesn't have a card of the played color, they can play any card from their hand. The player who played the card with the lowest number (regardless of color) receives the highest card for their score pile. The player who played the card with the highest number (regardless of color) receives all the rest of the cards. All won cards are placed face up in front of each player, sorted by color. The player who played the highest card starts the next round.
This continues for fifteen rounds, until all cards have been played and won. Players then total their points. For each color, if a player has only one or two cards of that color, they receive points equal to the numbers on the card. If they have three or more cards of a color, they receive one point per card. Each player adds their sum to the final total, and another round begins. After one round for each player has occurred, the game is over, and the player with the highest total wins!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: The cards have some neat artwork on them by Alexander Bradley. If you put the cards in order, from "1" to "18", and flip through them, you can see wee David growing up to be fearsome Goliath. This is nice and gives a certain visual appearance that the bigger numbers are "giants". The only problem with the card designs are that the colors are pretty much indistinguishable from each other outside of color, making them difficult for color blind folk. The cards are of good quality and fit snugly inside a plastic card insert in a small, sturdy box.
2.) Rules: The rules take only four pages of a multilingual rulebook and wouldn't even need to be that long except that there are full-color illustrations, making it so that absolutely anybody can understand the game. And there's just something that's naturally intuitive about the theme. The big number gets all the small numbers, but the smallest number pegs the biggest number in the forehead, winning it. Even teenagers and children can pick up the game (perhaps not the subtle strategies), and it's easily one of the most successful card games I've ever introduced.
3.) Scoring: The scoring system is simply ingenious. Players strive to get a couple high numbers in each color, and then not take any more cards. But it's a real struggle to keep from taking that third card in each color. If I have two yellow cards, "14" and "9", that's worth twenty-three points to me. Taking a third yellow card will make them worth a whopping total of three points, which is a twenty point loss. Therefore, players are often attempting to play middle cards - cards that are neither high nor low, for much of a round, trying to take only a few cards at most. Once a player goes over their three cards in a color, though, they might as well go "whole hog" and attempt to take every color card that they can. There are other games that have a similar concept, Relationship Tightrope and Turn the Tide. While both of those games are excellent games, David and Goliath beats them for sheer simplicity and fun.
4.) Fun Factor: When writing this review, I realize that there's really not a whole lot more I can say about it. I'm sure that many paragraphs could be written about the nuances of strategy, but I simply enjoy the game because I have fun doing so. David & Goliath is quick and easy, but more importantly, it's fun to everybody who plays the game.
Okay, maybe not everybody will like the game, but I haven't run into any yet who don't. There are times where I enjoy a good game of Puerto Rico or Princess of Florence with their various options and deep strategy. But many other times, I'm simply content with a light card game - one that is easy to teach to others and play. With many people understanding the trick-taking genre, and the interesting theme, David & Goliath is one of my most successful "gateway" games, and will stay on my shelf for quite a long time (except for those multiple instances where people demand to play it.)
"Real men play board games"
David & Goliath is Yet Another Trick-Taking Game, or so it seems upon a cursory glance at the rules. However, this one takes the standard whist-type game and adds one big twist, making David & Goliath a real gem.
Each player is dealt fifteen cards from a deck of five suits (the total number of cards thus depends on how many players there are). One player leads a card, and everyone else must follow suit if they can. There are no trumps as such, because once everyone has played a card, the suits become irrelevant and the only thing that matters is the numbers on the played cards.
The player who played the largest-numbered card - regardless of its colour - gets to keep all the other cards as booty. And now the twist, which is where the game gets its title: the highest-numbered card itself goes to the player who played the lowest-numbered card! It doesn't take long for it to sink in that of the fifteen cards you are dealt at the start of the hand, you will end up having none of them in front of you when the hand is over. Naturally this means that most of the trick-taking card tactics you already know are out the window.
The remainder of the twist comes with the scoring: sort your takings by colour; if you have two or fewer of a particular colour, you score the point value on those cards. If you have three or more in a colour, each of them is worth only one point! More cards are not necessarily better!
One of the delightful results of these rules is that there is almost always something to be done with every hand you are dealt; if you have a long run of a suit, you should be able to grab several more cards of that colour, or if you have only a few low cards in one suit you can earn big points by stealing the highest card in a trick. Contrast this to trick-taking games such as Bridge or Five Hundred, where if you are dealt a bad hand there is nothing to do except wait it out and hope that luck smiles on you next deal.
When I finally got around to playing the wonderful game Basari, I instantly found a hit game that yielded tons of replay to me and my group. When I heard that the designer of Basari, Reinhard Staupe, had a fun card game out published by a tiny German publisher, I was very excited to try it out but never got the chance because it was too hard to find. Now that Playroom Entertainment has picked it up, it is now widely available to the North American audience.
Have you ever played a "trick-taking" game like Spades, or Bridge? D&G is a little like that but with some subtle twists of its own. In a trick-taking game, the designated starting player lays down a card in the suit/color of her choice (D&G has five colored suits). Then, one at a time from the starting player, each player must play a card that matches that color. If you have no more cards of that color, then you may play any card in your hand. Players are trying to win (or avoid winning) the entire set of cards played -- this is called "taking a trick".
In most games, the highest number played in the lead color takes the trick, but in D&G it is the highest card, regardless of color, that takes the trick...sort of. You see the lowest card (the "David") gets to take the highest card (the "Goliath") FIRST; then whoever played the Goliath card gets the rest of the cards (including, ironically enough, the David card...hmm, well there goes the theme!) Lather, rinse, repeat. The rules are simple to grasp, but understanding strategy -- that may take a while, especially when you consider the scoring...
When all the cards have been played, players then tally up their scores. Each card they won gives them one point. BUT IF the player has a color in which they hold only ONE or TWO cards, then they score the FACE VALUE of those cards. Do you see the importance of the David card now? See if a Red 12 is going to win the trick, and you play the David, you get to take the Red 12 card. If, at the end of the hand, you have only one or two Red cards, then that card is now worth 12 points instead of 1!
The rules are simple enough, but it is the scoring that really makes the game tick. Ideally you will end up with exactly 10 cards, 2 in each color, with high values on each card. But it is very difficult to do that. If you have a lot of high cards, you are going to win a lot of tricks and end up with a lot of single points, so you need to pick up tons of points and make sure not to let too many Davids slay your Goliaths for mega bonus points. And if other players see you with a lot of potential bonus points, they are going to try and make you take a trick or two in order to "overload" your colors and make sure you don't score too many bonus points. And that is what makes this game unique. Not only are you trying to score well for yourself, but you are also trying to, as a group, make sure everyone else doesn't score many bonus points.
D&G is a very tricky game (no pun intended) that will most likely be well received by trick-taking fans, but actually stands up on its own and makes for good card game overall. Nothing terribly exciting about this game, but it is clever. The most noticable flaw is that the graphics and the cardstock are very mediocre. I don't know who drew the cards, but the colors used are sickly looking, and the artwork itself (pictures of David and Goliath with every stage in between the two) is very bland and I am certain they could have done a lot better by going with a more cheerful pallette and cartoonish graphics. After a few plays, it also became obvious to me that despite it's claim to play 3-6 players, with 5 or 6 players, it becomes very difficult to play strategically because there is too much chaos, and bonus points get too high, allowing for swingy scoring. For the price though, the game is definitely worth checking out. Get past the graphics, and stick with the 3 or 4 player game, and enjoy.
I was really intrigued with the idea of this game, David & Goliath. I like the theme and I like the idea behind the game and the reviews that I read were very positive. I am a huge game fan and it is unusual for me to not like a game that is generally well- liked by other boardgamers.
When I played David & Goliath, it just didn't work. I think it's a neat idea to have the high card of the hand win something and the low card in the hand win something. And, the scoring is clever in that the best way to score big points is to get just two high-valued cards in a few colors. More than two cards in a color and the value of those cards drops significantly. My experience is that games with clever scoring methods like this are much better for it (eg. Medici, Ra).
But, when I played the game, everyone was confused by the high-low card mechanic. And, I felt like I didn't really have control over the game as much as I expected. In most trick-taking games, having the lead is a good thing because you can have some control over the hand. In this game, having the lead is really a bad thing because anyone who ties your card number (using the same number in a different color), will beat you as ties go to the last player to play a card on both high and low.
Overall, I was disappointed with David & Goliath.
This is one of my favorite trick-taking games. The cards are in five color suits, but never mind that now. The highest card of any color wins the trick and its owner collects all but the highest card played; this "Goliath" card goes to the player of the lowest card ("David"), to be scored later. After 15 rounds the scoring starts, and this is when colors do matter. One or two cards of a color earn their face value, but more than two score only a point each. Toward the end, things can get as tense as a drawn slingshot.
The small card-size box contains simply a pack of 90 cards numbered from 1 to 18 in each of 5 colours. However many players there, you use only enough cards to deal 15 to each of you. So, with six players you use all the cards, with five you use those numbered 1 to 15, with four those numbered 1 to 12 and with three those numbered 1 to 9. The game is basically yet another trick taking game, but it has one or two delightful twists.
As in Whist, one player leads a card and the others must follow suit if they can. If they can't, they may play any card. There are no trumps. When more than one card of the same number is played in a trick, the latest one has precedence. The highest and the lowest cards played in each trick will capture cards and because it is important to be able to see who has played what, we've found it better if instead of playing cards to the centre of the table, you lay your card in front of you.
Right, fairly basic so far; but now comes the first twist, and this will (or should!) seriously affect your decision on which card to play. The person who played the lowest card, irrespective of colour, wins the highest of the cards played to the trick; the person who played the highest wins all the rest. In each case, duplicated numbers are treated as mentioned above. Cards won are placed face-up in front of each player for all to see. Play continues like this until all cards have been played.
Okay, you say, so what? Well, the scoring at the end of each round is the other twist in the tail. If you have won just one or two cards of a colour, they each score their face value; if you have won more than two cards of a colour, they each score only one point. After several rounds, the player with the most points wins.
If you give this a little thought, I'm sure you will appreciate the problems and opportunities that arise when it's your turn to play a card. Everybody can always see who is in the lead and can try to turn the leader's singles and pairs into multiples. On the other hand, you are naturally trying your damnedest to increase and defend your own score. Moreover, even though you can see what cards have been played and can deduce what remain, you cannot be sure if and when a duplicate number might be played. Really great stuff from a small and fairly simple game -- the same old question, why didn't I think of it?
Although I've now played this little gem for getting on for 20 times, I still cannot really give you a length of time for it. It depends an awful lot on whom you are playing with and how seriously you want to play. For this reason, therefore, it is an excellent game for really concentrated play, but equally good for families and older children. For me, it is right up there with Sticheln and Hat-Trick, which is high praise indeed! If this masterpiece and Basari are examples of Herr Staupe's future offerings, we are certainly in for a treat from this up and coming master craftsman. Highly recommended. 9 out of 10 in my book -- and that's only because 10's don't seem to be acceptable in the hobby.