Other than at our Christmas Party a few years back, this Richard Garfield card game has never been played at a Westbank Gamers session. Until now, that is! With six players and a bit of time before calling it an evening, the general consensus was in favor of something on the lighter side. When perusing my shelf of card games, I made a few suggestions. When I named 'Great Dalmuti', both Joey and Melissa immediately shouted 'YES!' So, the choice was made.
I guess the game could be termed a rummy variant, as players attempt to gather sets of cards and be the first to deplete their hand of cards. The rules are very simple, yet the mechanism is quite clever and always entertaining.
In short, the deck consists of cards numbered from 1 - 12, plus two jesters. There are twelve 12's, eleven 11's, et cetera, on down to one 1. The deck is mixed and completely dealt to the players. The lead player begins by playing a single card or set of identical cards to the table. Let's say Melissa plays three 10's. Each player must then play three like cards of a lower value than these 10's, or pass. This process continues until everyone passes. The player who played the lowest set of cards which could not be beat then leads the next hand.
This entire process continues until all players have depleted their hands of cards. We score each hand in the following manner:
The player who 'goes out' first gets points equal to the number of players in the game. So, in a six player game, the player would receive six points.
The player who 'goes out' second gets one point less than the number of players, and so on.
After a hand, players must rearrange their seating around the table in the order in which they 'went out' in the previous round. This is important as the first two players have the advantage of soliciting taxation from the two players who went out last in the previous round. After dealing a fresh hand of cards, the first player gives two of his cards to the last player, while the last player MUST give his two lowest valued cards to the start player. The second place player gives the penultimate (gotta love that word!) player one of his cards, while the penultimate player MUST give him his lowest valued card.
Hands continue in this manner until a pre-selected point total is reached. We usually play to 20 points. The rules state that you can play just for fun and not tally points, but we find it more interesting to keep score.
The game can also be a silly affair, with provisions being made for the wearing of hats, using of accents, ordering of penalties to the 'peons', etc. We've played this way when at a party, but more often just play with the straight rules.
For a game so simple, it is really quite fun. Other than Willerd, the rest of the group seemed to enjoy it considerably. Amazingly, I dominated the game, winning all four hands and remaining as the 'Great Dalmuti' throughout. Guess I just had a comfy chair and didn't want to move!
Greg: 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 = 24
Joey: 5 + 4 + 2 + 5 = 16
Willerd: 3 + 5 + 5 + 3 = 16
Melissa: 4 + 3 + 1 + 4 = 12
Dave: 2 + 2 + 4 + 1 = 9
Keith: 1 + 1 + 3 + 2 = 7
Ratings: Melissa 9.5, Joey 8, Dave 8, Keith 7, Greg 6.5, Willerd 5