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Subject: Sticheln (Game Review by Chris Wray) rss

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Chris Wray
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Harrisonville
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Sticheln (1993)
Designer: Klaus Palesch
Publisher: AMIGO Spiel + Freizeit GmbH, Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag
Players: 3 - 8 (Depending on Which Version)
Ages: 10 and Up
Time: 30 Minutes
Times Played: > 20



Perhaps I’m biased — Sticheln is one of my favorite card games — but I see it as a great step forward in the design of trick taking games. Sticheln threw out all of the old rules, becoming one of the first entries in a generation of trick taking games that no longer resembled the public-domain games of the past. One trump suit? Nah… every suit not led is trump. Must follow? Nope… play any card at any time. And let’s vary the number of suits — and the number of cards in a suit — for the number of players.

The Gameplay

The rules are simple:

Each player takes a card from their hand at the start of the game to represent their pain suit, and these are all revealed simultaneously. All cards collected of this suit — including the card selected by the player — will be negative points at face value.

Each other card taken (i.e. all cards not in the pain suit) is worth one point.

Zeroes never win unless all cards played in the trick are zero (in which case the first card wins).

Any card can be played at any point.

All suits not led are trump.

The highest trump card played (by number) wins. If no trumps are played, the highest card wins. If there is a tie (i.e. cards of the same number in different trump suits), the first player to have played the high value wins.

That’s it… the rules are incredibly simple.

Why Sticheln is one of my favorities...

Despite the incredibly simple rules, the game is actually quite deep, and it is difficult to master. Even to those well-versed in trick-taking games, it is a difficult game to get your head around for at least a couple of plays.

Trick taking is one of my favorite game mechanics, but I’ll admit that the genre is littered with mediocre games. Trick taking games often suffer from one of two major problems: (1) a feeling of obviousness, or (2) a feeling of chaos. Some tricksters enter auto-pilot mode once you see your cards, as the strategy for playing any given hand seems obvious. Other tricksters seem disorderly, resulting in gameplay that feels random. Great games in this genre avoid both pitfalls, and Sticheln is the master of avoiding them.

I fell in love with the game on my first play. And I’ve never turned down a game of Sticheln since.

Is it for everybody? Absolutely not — this can be a devilishly mean game — but I recommend that everybody give it a try. It’s a classic, and it still stands as one of the highest-rated trick taking games on BGG.

As an added benefit, a Sticheln deck is one of the most useful decks of cards out there. As shown in one Geeklist, there are dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of great games that can be played with a Sticheln deck.

Which deck to buy...

There are several different versions, but the two primary ones are the Amigo deck, which plays 3-8 players.



Unfortunately, it is out of print and hard to find.

The NSV version only had enough cards for 6 players, so it isn't as versatile a deck for other games, but it is widely available at a relatively low price.



Note: An abbreviated version of this review appeared as part of the Opinionated Gamers' series Tricks & Trumps:
http://opinionatedgamers.com/2016/03/19/tricks-and-trumps-3-...
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Mark Johnson
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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It's also worth noting that the NSV version is much more colorblind-friendly than the Amigo version.

This is the best trick-taking game I've played so far.
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Roy Valstar
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This is an interesting card game. Like you say in your review.. the first time we played it it was... weird. you must play a few times to not get confused every time Its so different then other card gamed of this kind. But i like it.
 
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