Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Jetzt schlägt's 13 Review

If you're into board gaming their is a very good chance you're going to be playing a game or two that is not published currently in the United States. It's not uncommon for many gamers to import (or trade) for overseas titles and then find translations of the rules on Board Game Geek.

Fortunately for you Jetzt schlägt's 13 is not a game you're ever going to need a rules translation for. According to BGG the title transl;ates in English to "That takes the biscuit" but I've heard other translations as well.

So what is Jetzt schlägt's 13? It's a card game for 2-5 players (I wouldn't play it with less then 3 players) that takes about 30 minutes to play. It's got elements of blackjack in it's theme so there is the random / luck factor, It also has a fair share of strategy for such a simple game. What Jetzt schlägt's 13 really is however is one of the best games I have played this year.

The way the game is played is very simple, the start player draws a number of cards face down equal to the number of players. He then turns over one of them and elects who to give the card to. Each player will receive one of the cards and place the card face up in front of him or herself from left to right. The order is important so make sure that players are following this procedure. Once each player has a card including the dealer, the next player will repeat the process until someone gets 13 and busts. Once a player busts the rest of the players take their scoring cards, I'll go over cards in a minute, and put them in their score pile and the start player cards passes to the next player on the left. It is entirely possible for every other player to gain victory points in a round, the only person who is guaranteed none is the player who busts.

So how do you track the score in each round and victory points? well lets take a look at the cards themselves.

The game has several types of cards and until I get some images posted you can see a shot of all of them here.

You have your base card which have a blue background and those cards come in 3 varieties. Each blue card will have a numerical value at the top, this number is what is used to calculate your round score to bust. In the picture I link to you can see blue cards with the numerical values zero through three, the values go up to five however.

In addition to this numerical value each card may posses one or two plus signs. These plus signs are victory points and if you end a round without busting any cards in your hand with these plus signs go into your scoring pile. The final blue card will have an image of a card depicted below the numerical value. When you give this card to a player they must immediately draw another card off the deck (not the dealers hand) and add it to their face up hand. You can and often will draw multiple cards of this type and you must continue to draw cards of the deck.

Another type of card is the immediate scoring card, these two green cards come with either one or two plus signs. These cards do not go into your face up hand, they are immediately put in your victory point pile. This makes them very valuable as the are guaranteed victory points.

The final cards are the special cards and they have a yellow background and there are three of them. The first gives you the ability to increase your hand limit for the current round to 18. The second card is depicted as a hand and is the refusal card and is very powerful. Once you're given one of these it sits in your hand and you can refuse a card given to you and then discard the refusal card. It is possible to have multiple refusal cards in your hand for the round. The final card is depicted as a U-turn and if you give it to someone they must discard the last card they put face up, you finally see why the order of left to right is important.

As I previously stated you play a round, someone busts and everyone puts victory point cards in their victory point pile (face down) and the start player passes to the left. The game ends when you get through the deck, if you reach the end of the deck and your in the middle of a hand simply reshuffle the discard pile and finish out the round.

Jetzt schlägt's 13 is a game literally anyone can pick up, plays fast and is one you can break out at a dinner / holiday party and get the casual gamers in on. I highly recommend it if you can find a copy.


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