Man, I’m in the zone now. I just wrote another review, this time of Dorra’s card game Land Unter.
Land Unter is a clever little card game. The basic mechanism is a simultaneous trick-taking game, where the two highest cards collect two water level cards. Water level cards are a mixed blessing, as each turn the player with the highest water level card loses a point. The player who played the highest card gets to pick first, so usually winning the first pick is good, not winning anything is so-so and coming second is a disaster. That’s fairly tricky, when the cards are played simultaneously.
While that is all interesting and fun, too, it’s not all there is. In an attempt to eliminate luck of the draw, game employs a simple, but brilliant mechanism: after each hand players pass their cards to the next player. Several rounds are played so everybody gets to try all hands. That’s clever and it certainly makes for interesting end-of-game discussion where everyone can compare who did best with different hands.
But that’s not all, either. As I said, drowning a bit means a loss of points. Players have different amounts of points in the start of each hand, depending on the cards they have. Bad cards give lots of points, so with a bad hand, you start with more points. With the lousy cards you’ve given, it’s probable you’ll lose most of them, but if you can play well with bad cards, you’ll score a lot. Playing well with bad cards is critical to victory. A good hand can’t score as many points as a bad hand, besides everyone is going to score well with a good hand anyway. While the value of cards can be debated, this balancing measure seems to work quite well. And hey — if there’s an imbalance, everybody gets to suffer and benefit in equal amounts.
Land Unter is a clever game. Then again, while I recommend trying it for the novel idea, it hasn’t become a staple. It should work well as a filler game for gamers and as a refreshingly different card game for non-gamers interested in card games. The art is cute. While I don’t think Land Unter is really a must-buy, considering the price (at least in German mailorder) and the quality makes it an offer hard to refuse.