Recomended card games by number of players - 2 players

MAGIC THE GATHERING

This isn't a game I'd recommend anyone to get into unless they have a bottomless reserve of cash, as its just too expensive. Being a CCG (Collectible Card Games) it can be bought in pre-made decks that can be played straight out of the box. Both players need a deck to play, so entry level is just 2 premade decks. However a large part of the attraction for me was the actual process of building the decks, and for this you need a lot of cards and this does get expensive.

The aim of the game is to inflict 20 damage onto your opponent before manages to do the same to you. Players start with a deck of cards each, and draws 7 cards. The cards are split into particular types: Land cards provide the mana (magical power) needed to play the other type of cards. Players are only allowed to add 1 land card each turn, and use the land cards in play once per turn.

Creature cards are the conventional way of dealing damage. These can only be played during a players turn. Each creature has an attack and defense value. Apart from the turn they come into play, creatures may attack once per turn. The defending player may use their creatures to block the attack, with any destroyed creature placed in th ediscard pile. Any unblocked creatures deal their attack value to the defender. Many creatures have additional abilites that can be used sometimes instead of an attack.

Enchantments also can only be played on a players turn. These can either target another card in play granting it an additional ability. Alternatively they can grant abilties to one or both players.

Artifact cards are the other type of card that can only be played on a players turn. These cards represent artifacts that the player control. Some are creatures, whilst others allow the player to peform a whole array of different things.

Instants/Interupts are the 2 types of cards that can be played at any time in the game these can allow the players to respond to an opponents move, but the abilities bestowed are short term and the cards are discarded at the end of the turn.

With so many cards available there are so many options when it comes to building the decks, and this can provide plenty of opportunities to be creative. The art of building magic decks is spotting a good combination of cards. The major drawback to any CCG is that if one player buys more cards then another he is likely to have a dictinct advantage, being more likely to have the more powerful cards and the more powerful combos.

Despite having spent four years buying and playing German style games I would still rate this as my favourite 2 player game, which is just as well considering how many other games I could've bought with the money I've spent on Magic.

Honourable mentions
LOST CITIES
MYSTERY RUMMY - JACK THE RIPPER
MYSTERY RUMMY - AL CAPONE
GUILLOTINE


Recomended card games by number of players - 3 players

FLASCHENTEUFAL

A game based on the Robert Louis Stevenson story "The Bottle Imp". The premise of the story is that whoever possesses the bottle imp is granted wishes, however if anyone dies with the imp in their possession they are doomed to eternal damnation. The catch is that they cannot give the imp away and it must be sold for less than it was bought for.

The game is a trick taking game. There are 36 cards (1-37 with no 19) split amongst 3 colours. The red cards are mainly the higher cards, the blue the middling cards and yellow accounts for most of the lower cards. The bottle imp starts at value 19. All cards are dealt out. Each player then examines his hand before passing 1 card to the player on their left and right, plus discarding one to the centre. The start player then leads with any card from his hand, with all other players following suit whenever possible. The highest played card wins the trick unless any of the cards are lower then the current value of the imp. Effectively all cards lower then the imp provide the "trumps" hence the highest card lower then the imp wins the trick, this card also becomes the new value of the imp, the possession of the imp also passes to the trick taker. In either case the trick taker takes all cards played in the trick. Each card has a points value, the higher the number within a colour the more points its worth. The round eands after the last trick is played. Each player then scores the sum of the point values of their won cards, except for the player in possession of the imp. This player scores negative the point value of the cards discarded at the start of the round. The game continues for a number of rounds, we usually play until someone hits 150.

There are some very nice touches that make this better than the average trick taking game. Firstly each player has knowledge of 1 card in his neghbours hands, plus of 1 of the cards out of the game. This knowledge can be vital and is often the deciding factor as to who gets the imp. The other side of this is that it also allows some degree of hand management as 3 cards can be discarded, of course 2 new unknown cards will replace these to ruin the best laid plans. The idea that the number of trump cards is forever getting smaller is also a novel one. There is no set strategy to win the game as each round must be played according to the hand of cards available. It is sometimes neccessary to concede that you are going to take the imp and hence embark on damage limitation by trying to win as many tricks as possible.

Honourable mentions
HATTRICK
MYSTERY RUMMY - JACK THE RIPPER
MYSTERY RUMMY - AL CAPONE
POMPEII


Recomended card games by number of players - 4 players

BOHNANZA

One of the classic "German style games" is the card game Bohnanza, which seems to spawn a new expansion/spin off every year. The original expansion (now included with some copies) does not alter the rules but simply allows for an additional player. I have tried a couple of the other expansions and haven't found either of them to add anything positive to the elegant original. Bohnanza is a trading game and along with Settlers of Catan is one of the essentials in the genre.

The game consists of a deck of cards, each depicting one of a number of different types of Beans. There are a different amount of each of the beans. Each player is dealt a starting hand of cards. The first thing to know is that the order of cards in the hand cannot be altered. So new cards are added to the back of the hand and any cards that are played are taken from the front. Each player is assumed to have 2 empty fields at the start of the game, a third may be bought during the game. Each field is an area where the player may "plant" (play) his bean cards. However each field must contain only one type of beans at a time. At any time a player may harvest all the cards from a field, to do this he counts the number of cards, then sees how much cash he receives as indicated on the cards harvested. He then retains this many of the harvested cards as cash, discarding the rest to the central discard pile. On a players turn he must first plant the first card in his hand then optionally plant the second. The top 2 cards are then drawn from the deck and placed face up. The player can now initiate trades with any/all of the other players. All cards from all players hand plus the 2 face up cards are available for trade. Any cards traded must immediately be planted by the respective players. Once trading is completed the current player must plant any of the 2 face up cards not traded away. He then draws 3 cards before the next player takes his turn. There are 3 times through the deck before the end of the game, but with cards being kept as cash, the latter rounds are much quicker then the first. Whoever has the most cash at the end of the game is the winner.

The art to this game is hand management. Since you have to plant the top card each turn it is essential to trade away unwanted cards before they have to be played. It is the only game I can think of played by the Piddinghoe Gamers where we would be actually be prepared to give cards away. It is not unusual to hear during a trading phase a player state that he would agree to a swap only if the opponent also takes another card, possibly giving them additional points. Having bought the german edition of the game, we've had to make up the names of the beans not being able to get outr tongues around the german names. So it was a very bemused Belgian who watched us playing the game on the Ferry to Essen last year, discussing "Shitty", "Pukey" and "Hippy" beans.

Honourable mentions
HATTRICK
ATTRIBUTE
ALLES IM AIMER
MAMA MIA


Recomended card games by number of players - 5 players

ALLES IM AIMER

For the bucket game the emphasis changes. For the above games the player is usually playing to win, with the bucket game the primary emphasis is usually on maximising fun by trying to stitch people up.

Each player is dealt a hand of cards, these cards are different values in 5 colours. Having seen their hand each player has to construct a pyramid from the 15 (3 in each of the 5 colours) buckets. Once everyone has built their pyramid the start player plays upto 3 cards in a single colour. They then draw 1 card before play continues clockwise round the table, with each player allowed to play up to 3 cards in the same colour as the lead players, to give a higher value then the previous players total. If the round gets back to the start player it continues going with each player allowed to add to their current total as long as the player has played no more then 3 cards in total. As soon as someone does not improve the previous players total they lose the round. They must now remove a bucket from their pyramid of the colour of the lost trick. Also removed are any buckets supported by the lost bucket. If a player has no buckets left in the corresponding colour he is allowed to remove any other bucket. If by removing a bucket a players pyramid is split into 2 separate piles, one of these piles must also be removed. All cards played during the round are discarded and a new round is started by the losing player. The game ends when 2 players have had their entire pyramid destroyed, with the winner being the person with the most buckets left standing in their pyramid.

I wasn't too impressed with my first few games of this. I was going out to try and win the game. Winning is not too important in this game, obviously nobody wants to lose, but the real emphasis is on having fun. By fun I'm talking about seeing other people squirm as they see half their pyramid destroyed. Perhaps were just masochists.

Honourable mentions
BOHNANZA
6 NIMMT
NICHT DIE BOHN
PIT


Recomended card games by number of players - 6 players

6 NIMMT

As with Alles im Aimer the emphasis here is fun rather all out winning. I'm almost sure that there are tactics that can be employed in this game, but they totally pass me by. The "Kev name" for this game really sums it up :- "Play a card at random and hope not to win". The obvious question arising from this is how can this be a favourite game? The answer is simple. Its all about enjoying the agony etched on other peoples faces when they realise they've just been stitched and end up taking a handful of cards they didn't expect. As with Alles im Aimer, this is not a game that you are going to want to be playing all night, but a couple of hands is a great way of relaxing after some brain burners.

The game is remarkably simple as long as you remember the 3 rules, and you'll almost certainly forget rule 2 at some point in the game. Everyone is dealt a big hand of cards with 4 cards placed face up in the middle. The cards run from 1 to 104???. Everyone then takes a card from their hand and plays it face down once all cards are played they are revealed, and the cards added to the cards in the middle following these simple rules. Rule 1: The played cards are played in ascending order Rule 2: A card should be placed at the end of a row where the end card is the highest card lower then the one played. If all end cards are higher then the played card the player must take all the cards from a row of his choice to his score pile and start a new row with his played card. Rule 3: If a card becomes the 6th card in a row, the first 5 are removed and added to the players "score pile". The game continues until everyone has played all their cards, score piles are tallied and the LOWEST value wins.

This is another game that took me a while to warm too, and again this was because I was too busy trying to work out how to win, and not spending enough time just enjoying the chaos that was being caused. I suspect the choice of 6 Nimmt and Alles im Aimer tells alot about the make up of the Piddinghoe Gamers. The group certainly has some very competetive players, but we all enjoy letting our hair (and beards) down and causing as much havoc and chaos as possible from time to time.

Honourable mentions

ATTRIBUTE
STICHELN
DAVID AND GOLIATH
BOHNANZA