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A Derk appears from the mists...
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The trick-taking genre is a family of games that has a lot of members, however not all of them are decent. I bought this little game because I’d read copious reports of good games on the Billabong Boardgamers website. Well, I added it to an existing order from Funagain order because it wouldn’t add any shipping. I couldn’t be more pleased with money that I spent.

The game is, in concept, quite simple. There are five suits of cards numbered from one to some number. The maximum number varies based on the number of players: with three it’s one-to-nine, with four it’s one-to-twelve; whatever it takes to give each player fifteen cards. A card is led, and players must follow suit if possible. If they can’t follow suit, they can play any card in their hand. After all cards have been played, the winning card is the highest card played, regardless of suit. If more than one card is the highest card, then the last highest card played is the winner. The winner, or the Goliath, takes the trick. However, the lowest card played, the David, also gets something. The lowest card played gets the card that won the trick, the Goliath. If more than one card is the lowest, the last lowest card is the David and takes the Goliath card. The remaining cards are then awarded to the winner of the trick, and the winner then leads for the next trick. Play continues in this manner until all fifteen cards have been played.

When a player takes a card, he places the cards in front of himself, sorted by suit. After all the cards have been played, the round is scored. This is where the game gets interesting. If a player has one or two cards of a particular suit, then the player gets the face value of the cards taken. However, if the player takes three or more cards in a particular suit, then the player only gets one point per card taken. So the idea of the game is to take just a couple high cards in each suit to score the maximum points. After each player has had a chance to deal a hand, then the game is over and the player with the highest total score wins.

That’s it. And that’s the beauty of the game. It’s painfully simple, yet each decision you make during the game is uniquely painful. After playing the game a half a dozen times, I keep thinking that I know what to do in every situation. But this game defies conventional card playing tactics. Each and every game and trick is a little different from every other situation. But that’s not a bad thing. I would recommend this game to any fan of classic trick-taking card games that can get three to six players together.

[I feel that I should re-edit this review with a qualification or two. Since writing this, I've played the game several times more, and it's made me think slightly less favorably about the game. Mind you, I still like the game just fine. But I tend to favor more thought-provoking trick-taking games, such as Was Sticht?, Spades, and Mü.

Often times your performance in David & Goliath is determined by your cards and how much your fellow players want to screw you over. Nowadays, I'd rather play Nicht die Bohne, which features a very similar scoring mechanism, but has a really intriguing trading system instead of a trick-taking format. David & Goliath is still a very good game, but it's not as wonderful as I once thought.]
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