Thursday session: Ottocento, Dobbm

Fairy Tale box

After the mandatory Fairy Tale rounds (which prove that I can only win when paired up with someone), I got a group playing Ottocento or Tarocco Bolognese. The Bologne Tarot is a curious game, played with a special pack of 62 cards. The trumps are a bit different: there are, for example, four moors, which are of equal (low) value.

It’s a partnership game for four. The scoring is based on combinations of cards: either sets of same-rank court cards or high-scoring tarots, or sequences of court cards or trumps. These combinations can be declared before the first trick and they are also counted from the won cards. Cards also score by the traditional Tarot scoring system.

What this means is huge swings. If a team gets at least three combinations of same general category, the scores are doubled. So, win plenty of court cards and a wild card (trump number one or the fool) and you’ll hit the jackpot. In the first deal, our team did exactly that and ended up with 300 points to our opponents’ 95. Unfortunately Hannu, my ever faithful Tarot co-explorer, had to leave so we had only time for two hands. Another succesfull hand took my team to 496 points to our opponents 203 — the game is played to 800, like the title says, and it looks like that won’t necessarily take whole evening…

It’s a neat game. I think I do prefer the Slovenian game, but this is good as well. It’s certainly different! However, the requirement for the special pack makes it harder to play, and I’m not sure it’s really worth the extra effort if you can’t get the pack easily (it’s certainly worth getting, because it’s a piece of art by itself, definitely one of the prettier packs I’ve seen so far).

Modern Art box

Then it was Modern Art — it’s been a while! Two newbies were in the game, guess what happened… The new guys bought like crazy. Harri who won, bought maybe one painting during the whole game. I was second, mostly because one of the new guys paid whopping 127 for a pair of paintings… that were worth, I think, 140. So, not too much, but perhaps still too much.

Well, you live and learn, but I do understand the people who hate playing Modern Art with newbies. It’s a different game (and with all experienced players, the game is probably ruined in different ways).

We finished the evening with some… cards! Dobbm is a rare game from the valleys of Austria, but it’s also a rather good introduction to ace-ten games. No tricky rules: just standard 120 points in pack, the declarer plays against other three trying to get more than half. Whatever happens, the difference between 60 points and the points scored are paid to the winning side.

There are two contracts: normal game (declarer gets four talon cards to exchange) or solo (no exchange). Solo beats normal game. Hearts are always trumps. Defenders may double the value of the game (Dobbm is usually played for money). It’s a fairly easy-going game, and will definitely be a part of my standard game set, as I know the rules and need no rules or cheat sheets to play.

The trumps avoided me — I got one good hand, which I played with great success and failed only one hand and that not that much… However, Olli played two good hands, which was enough to beat me by four points.

One thing I learned: if you don’t play for money, forget the hard scoring. Soft scoring works just as well and is much easier to do. I recounted our scores and noticed I had made some counting mistakes, but it’s just too hard to count something that involves multiples and negative numbers and all that…

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