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The Avid Card Gamer's Review of Schnäppchen Jagd
Schnäppchen Jagd is a trick-taking game featuring a 6 suited, double ranked deck with ranks from 1-9, and two "Super Sonder Angebot" cards which are super trumps. The game is intended for 3-4 players, and features "Every Man for Himself" play at either scale.
So what is play like? Pretty much standard trick-taking fare. Players have to lead a card, and then follow suit, if possible. The deck is large, and 6 suited, and only a portion of it is dealt out each hand. Players slowly work their way through the entire deck, and when the end of it is reached, then it is reshuffled to keep the game going. Why is this important to mention here? Because the large number of suits combined with partial use of the deck means that card play is somewhat chaotic. Players are almost always short-suited somewhere. This, thus, gives them regular opportunities to take advantage of Schnäppchen's bizarre trump procedure.
In short, there is no set trump suit for each trick. One player leads a card, say, an 8 of Squares. The second player has no cards in that suit, and tosses a 7 of X's. That second player now has to declare either "It Is" or "It Isn't", this declaration refers to whether the X's suit would be trump for this trick. There is only one trump suit allowed for each trick, and it is always created by such declarations. If the second player said "It Isn't" on their play, the next player who played an off-suit card would have a similar opportunity to declare "It Is/n't", and so forth. As with standard trick-taking games, the highest trump card takes the trick, barring trumps, the highest card played in the suit led. The only cards that are always trump and always beat everything are the Super Sonder Angebot cards, of which there are only two in the deck.
One other, minor nuance involved has to do with the double ranks. Each rank occurs twice in each suit, and Schnäppchen deals with this in an interesting way. If I play an identical card to a trick, say, a 9 of Circles on another 9 of Circles, I can then choose whether my card is "Higher" or "Lower" by making a declaration when I play that card, in effect, choosing whether I am trying to take the trick, or trying to pitch.
So the play is fairly easy to grasp, albeit a bit weird in spots. However, the scoring system takes a bit more work to explain. Prior to the start of the game, each player chooses a card, with an eye on its rank. Players simultaneously reveal their chosen card, and leave it sitting face up in front of them. During play, any cards that one takes that are of the same rank as the chosen card (called "The Bargain") go underneath the face up card, and constitute positive points. Everything else goes into the junk pile, which will be negative points at the end of the game. "But", you ask me, "How does anyone ever score positive points?". At the end of each round, players have a chance to "clear" a single rank of cards out of their junk pile. If they have enough of a single rank in that pile (the number varies based on player count) then they not only get to discard the junk, but also get to set a new "bargain" (a new rank they will be looking for in subsequent rounds of play) and can also score some positive points. For instance, in a 3 player game, the minimum number of cards to clear to set a new Bargain is 3. If I have 2 cards ranked 2, I can still clear them out at the end of a round, so they don't count against my score, but my Bargain pile will not be increased, and the cards that I'm hunting for will still be the same rank. However, if I have three 2's in my junk pile, I can discard two of them at the end of the round, and the third would go onto the top of my Bargain pile. It would then be worth a positive point at the end of the game, and would be the card I was looking for during the next round. If I have really been collecting 2's, and I have, say, six of them, I would have to discard 2 of them, and then the other FOUR would go into my Bargain pile, one face up on top, and so forth. Essentially, what this means is that players try to collect a lot of cards of a given rank, even if it isn't currently scoring them points, because it will allow them to make big clears later, and score a lot of points in the process.
Short, usually about 30 minutes. The game play is a set number of rounds, 6 with 3 players, and 4 with 4 players.
Casual Gamers: Moderate
Medium Weight Games Fans: High
Heavy Weight Game Fans: Moderate to Low
Essentially, this game is fairly easy to grasp, so more casual card gamers should not have any trouble with it. The game is light enough to be irksome to some heavier weight game fans, and tends to be somewhat chaotic.
Plays only 3 or 4 players. Most people strongly prefer 3 players because of the increased number of rounds, increased number of clears, and general greater control of one's fate. I don't mind it with 4, but it certainly seems better with 3.
No real built-in playability. There is no strong variation in the game via powers, rules variants, or the like. There is also no bidding. Like all card games, this will depend largely on whether the game "clicks" with you though.
Aspects to keep in mind:
More filler than main event: There are a lot card games that I consider a major part of an evening of gaming. Tichu, Cosmic Eidex, Doppelkopf and their ilk take a significant amount of time to play, and seem to offer a decent bang for that time investment. Schnäppchen is more of a filler game, it is fairly light, fairly fast playing, and fairly chaotic. It is something that is nice to have on hand if you're waiting for someone to show up, but it is not big or depthy.
Chaotic card play: As I referenced above, the card play in this game seems to be out of hand much of the time. 6 suits, and relatively small hands means that players are almost all short suited, which means the game is largely about being short-suited at the right time, in the right place, with the right cards on the trick. There is no real ability to plan out your hand, or to control play in any significant way.
Expensive: This was published by Queen several years ago and never received a North American release. As a result, the game is quite expensive for what it is. Although I recommend having a real deck (mainly because of the charming art on the cards), the price of the game is prohibitive for what it offers.
My final slant: I find Schnäppchen charming, but not filling enough. I tend to like card games that have a bit more meat on their bones, while this is clearly aimed more squarely at the "Euro gamers killing a few minutes" crowd. That said, if you're looking for something to fill a half hour every once in a while, and you have a few people who like trick-taking games, this one might be worth looking into. The trumping procedure, while somewhat frustrating because of the inherent chaos that it adds to the game, is what makes this game stand out for me, and it does make the game feel original; and originality is a cardinal virtue for any card game in my book.
- Last edited Thu Mar 6, 2008 1:25 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Fri Mar 2, 2007 4:43 pm
Fine review, but I'd like to correct one error. In a three player game you need to discard at least three cards when clearing before setting a new number as your bargain card. So if you are collecting "8s" and you clear three "3s", you are still collecting "8s". If you cleared five "3s" you would discard three of them, and add two of them to your score stack, changing the number of your bargain to 3.
(Double checked my English rules and the most recent English rule pdf on the Geek before posting this).
Another subtle point. The Super Sonder Angebot card can never be cleared. The rules as written allow a player to play a second Super Sonder Angebot card to a trick and announce the value as "lower." I always play with a variant by Aaron Fuegi, which rules that a second Super Sonder Angebot played to a trick always wins the trick. See http://scv.bu.edu/~aarondf/variants.html for more interesting variants by Aaron.
David Vander Ark wrote:
The rules as written allow a player to play a second Super Sonder Angebot card to a trick and announce the value as "lower."
Technically a second Super-Sonderangebot must be announced as "lower". No choice.
...Not that this changes your reasons for playing the variant
- Last edited Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:39 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:37 pm