We knew that Rich planned on joining us this evening, but he hadn't arrived as yet. So, what do we play next? Again, Heather had the idea. She had recently realized that we didn't play 6 nimmt! a single time last year! We've always enjoyed the game at game night in the past when we've played it, so why not bring it out again? And that's what we did.
We don't often play this with only four players, so this was an interesting hand. Dave played to eliminate duplicates in his hand (or at least cards very close in numerical order), to keep a lot of options for himself. It would prove to be a less than stellar strategy, as he ended up taking two stacks and wound up with the high score for the round, 19 points. Jim, on the other hand, began by dumping his 101 and 103 cards. Apparently, this set him up well, as he finished the round with only 8. Meanwhile, Heather and Alice both had around 10.
In round 2 Dave had what he called "seven cards". He was dealt 96, 97, 98, and 99, in addition to the other six cards in his hand. The lack of options effectively reduced his hand to six cards. So he began by trying to play out these four cards from his hands, and he was quite successful at it. In fact, for the entire hand he managed his cards well, and only took three more points. Heather also spent the beginning of the hand dumping her high cards. We played such that all four stacks grew, with lots of cards and lots of points. Alice wound up being the victim, taking 29 points that hand. Heather's early efforts didn't help too much, as she took 19. Jim backed his 8 point hand with a 7 point hand, and had a pretty good lead.
The third hand proved to be difficult for Heather. Her youngest, who isn't yet a year old, started getting ornery, so Heather had to play and be with the little one at the same time. She ended up playing from the sofa, and we had to tell her the table composition (# of cards per stack, and the number on the top of each) for each card played. The difficulty showed, as Heather wound up taking a couple largish stacks of cards. Then again, it was a rough round all around, and everyone got a stack or two, and the scores crept higher. Dave started the hand by playing his low cards, reasoning that he could take a one card stack, and then play his other low cards on that first low card. Great idea, but it didn't help, as a 16 point hand left him with the most points, at 40. At the other end was Jim, the lowest, with 31.
For the fourth round we had a couple of changes. First, Heather put her son to bed, which brought her back to the gaming table. Second, Rich arrived. Rather than have him sit around and watch, we gave Rich the average of all our scores (which turned out to be 35), and dealt him in. So now we're five players, which does change the game a bit. It now is possible to take a stack with the first card played, if everyone's card winds up on the same stack on the board. It also means that more of the deck is dealt out, and so playing a 32 to a four card stack with a 30 on top is more risky. After all, it's a bit more likely that the 31 card has been dealt out as well. Dave found this out a couple times this particular round, and wound up taking a couple more stacks of points. He ended up with 15 for the hand, and 55 total for the game so far. Even so, it wasn't the high value for the round. That honor went to Alice, with 21 points. Heather's return to the table helped some because, although she did end up taking the first five card stack of the round, she only scored 10 points total. Jim started giving back his lead, with a 12 point round. But Rich, his mind clear of the four-player game dynamics, had a stellar hand, taking only 2 points and assuming the lead.
In the fifth round, Jim rounded back into form. He took few cards, and 7 points total. Heather kind of fell through, with the high hand of 19 points. Dave and Rich scored a middling 10 and 11, respectively, so we had hopes we might play a sixth hand. But Alice, trying valiantly to avoid points, couldn't quite make it happen. She took in 8 points, which was enough for her to hit 66 exactly! Even still, that's enough to end the game. Looking at the final scores, we saw that Rich had maintained his play after his first round, and came away with the win.
I'm not sure if the dynamics are that different between a four-player game and five-player game, but it sure seemed that way. Rich came in and did really, really well, while the rest of us managed to take (more than) our share of points. Certainly it plays very differently with, say, eight or more, but five vs. four? That's something to watch.