It was time for Rich and Sabrina to leave, but Danielle showed up kind of late. Actually, she was around to watch the last third or so of Lifeboats. But time for something new, and since she had just arrived, Jim gave her the choice. She chose Die Sieben Siegel.
Jim dealt first, which gave Danielle the first bid opportunity, and she jumped at the saboteur role. Between Dave, Jim and Carrie, all but one trick was claimed. Dave had a pretty reasonable number of trump, and was pretty short in two other colors, so he had bid to take tricks in those short colors. But when his first opportunity arose, to trump a green trick, he chose instead to dump a purple to void that color as well. As a result, Jim took an extra green trick, and as it turned out Dave never did a green trick. He also didn't get a yellow, and took an extra blue trick with an extra trump card. Jim took two tricks he hadn't expected, and Carrie didn't take two tricks she had claimed, so all in all it was a pretty successful hand for Danielle, who finished with just one black token.
In the second hand Dave also chose the saboteur as the first bidder. Again he had pretty good trump (including the top trump for the second hand in a row). This time the others left two on the table, claiming 13 bids. Dave's strategy was to duck when he could, void out when he could (and he was really short in blue that round), and then trump at unexpected times. He ended up taking four tricks, including a blue trick that Carrie wanted, a red trick that Danielle wanted, and two purple tricks that Jim wanted (well, he wanted one of them, anyway). He was also able to lead from his really low yellow cards a couple times, sticking both Carrie and Jim with an extra trick. All in all, it was another successful hand for the saboteur, and though he still had two black tokens, the others still managed to score more.
The third hand was Carrie's opportunity to choose the saboteur, but she declined, instead claiming five different tricks. Jim took the opportunity to take saboteur role. Danielle chose six tricks of her own, and Dave claimed five, marking all tricks claimed. But not all tricks claimed were taken, nosiree. Jim was totally void in yellow, and very low in purple. As a result, he was able to trump two tricks in each color, derailing mostly Danielle but also Carrie to an extent. Dave, however, was able to navigate the minefield Jim laid, and was able to take all four tricks he claimed. From a personal score perspective, Jim had a rough time as saboteur, because he wasn't able to get rid of any of his four black seals. But he did stick Carrie and Danielle with four and eight points, respectively, so it was still a job well done. However, with his zero score for the hand, Dave claimed the lead for the moment.
Jim chose the saboteur role again for the last hand. This time we were pretty under bid, with only 11 tricks claimed out of the possible 15. And oddly enough, as it would turn out, Dave, who called for four tricks, would end up only taking two of them. Jim would again take lots of them, five in total this time (compared to six in the previous hand). But he was also able to get Danielle to take an extra trick. This hand it was Carrie who was able to take the three tricks she had bid early in the hand, and then avoid taking any more for the rest of it, to score zero points. That, combined with Dave's four points from the two untaken tricks, brought the two of them into a tie for the win, with 13 points.
This was an enjoyable game, and while nearly everyone chose the saboteur when they had the chance, it didn't necessarily guarantee an easy hand or the best score. The hands all played out interestingly, and I had a lot of fun.
howl hollow howl
In my experience, there are three types of hands in DSS.
There are the miserable hands (e.g., few or no low numbers in suits that aren't short) where the worst Saboteur score of four is lower than the expected value of playing otherwise. Here, taking the Saboteur is an automatic, and any points shaved by seals being taken is considered gravy/icing.
There are the really easy hands (e.g., a lot of low numbers) that are ringers to score zero points; here, taking the Saboteur is foolish, except for those extremely rare cases where your main competition is sitting to your left and you somehow suspect he needs the Saboteur to bail him out of a really poor hand.
Then there are the teaser hands where a zero is definitely achievable, but depends on favorable suit distribution and/or specific suits being led early. It is only this latter category where taking the Saboteur becomes a really tough decision, usually based on what other bids have been made.
At this point, except for rare occasions, I only take the Saboteur for the first category of hands, as the best players can get a score of zero for approximately half of their hands.
Or you can be downright ugly in so many ways.
I almost never bid saboteur. The major exceptions are
i) half the tricks have not been bid and I'm last
ii) I have the worst mid hand in the world and I'm last
I often bid in lieu of saboteur, but I bid in a destructive way.
You'll have to figure out what I mean by that, but a hint is I purposely
bid tricks I won't take. Remember, the delta is more important than
your actual score. However, your position in the bidding cycle is
a big factor.