I reviewed Die Sieben Siegel (in Finnish).
Die Sieben Siegel (The Seven Seals) is a trick-taking game (one of these days I should write an introductory article on trick-taking games, in Finnish). In the Card Games classified index it would probably be in the exact bidding group (Spades is not in that group, but is similar and well-known). Players are expected to predict the exact number of tricks they win. That’s typical, but in Die Sieben Siegel players must also predict the suit of the tricks won.
That’s an interesting challenge. It also means that you can forget what is generally considered as a good hand in most trick-taking games. Sure, the way you score tricks by using big cards and trumps is all very typical, but it has little to do with scoring. The number of tricks you make is irrelevant. Keeping the prediction is what counts.
One player has an option to be a saboteur. Saboteur doesn’t make a prediction, but tries to foil the plans for the other players. Player who chooses saboteur has to pay a fixed value of four penalty points, which can be reduced by forcing other players to take tricks they didn’t predict.
Die Sieben Siegel works with three, four or five. With three, players seem to collect lots of penalty points and saboteur is an easy choice with any cards. With more players, there’s more room for skillful play and a good player can steadily avoid penalties. There choosing saboteur is more dependent on cards one gets. The game is good with any number, but best with four or five in my opinion. I have only played once with three, so there’s a grain of salt for taking.
Cards feature five suits with 1-15 in each. The art is decent and functional, though I don’t like the colour of the backs (too fuchsia). It’s easy to tell numbers and suits apart. The cardstock isn’t top quality, the cards are hard and shiny instead of nicer finish. Fortunately it’s easy to replace them with a Sticheln deck, if necessary. The seals and saboteur tokens are okay.
I find Die Sieben Siegel interesting and unique enough to hold interest. Fans of trick-taking games should at least try it (easy to do with a generic five-suit deck and some tokens, the rules can be found at Geek). It’s not a must-have game by any measure, but it certainly has it’s place in my collection.