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Tim Isakson
United States
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Sticheln is yet another of the strange German takes on trick-taking card games - one can see it's lineage from standard trick taking games, but it definitely has some unique twists to it that will require players to unlearn much of what they know about trick-taking games.

Essentially, this is 6-suited deck of cards. Each player chooses a suit that is negative points for them (face value of the card is the negative value for them). Each card of all the other suits is worth one point each, so it's pretty important not to take high valued cards in your negative suit.

The other oddity is the play of the tricks - the first suit lead is the "anti-trump", while every other card played is trump, meaning that the highest card of a suit other than the one lead will take the trick. Also, there is no requirement that subsequent players in a trick follow suit - so mainly, a players decision is whether to follow suit and likely not take the trick, or how high in another suit to go, possibly insuring taking the trick. If this is done too early in the hand, the players following you can throw cards of your pain color into the trick, making it an unfortunate trick for you to take. As such, this is definitely a game of lead avoidance - you much prefer the person to your left to lead, as that means you get to play last and make the decision about whether to take the trick or not with full information of what the other cards are.

I don't know why it is that German's come up with so many of these unique trick taking games, but I'm definitely glad that they do! Sticheln is a worthy addition to the ranks of Schn├Ąpchen Jagd, Nicht die Bohne, Was Sticht! and other German twists on trick-taking.
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