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Schuttels is a game where poor lazy Gnomes are scooped up by mystical, magical Wizards. It is designed for 2-6 players (aged from anyone who can count to 15) by Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp. It has brilliant comedic illustrations on the box cover (back & front) and throughout the rules book (which is in multiple languages) by Johannes Lott. SCHUTTELS from Zoch should not be confused with the game called SHUTTLES (rough translation) from University Games and Discovery Toys, it is totally different.

  €24.99 rrp

The board depicts a village with 13 buildings, each numbered from 1-15 - the first building is the Pillory and has three numbers 1, 3 and 15 and these are the numbers you are trying to avoid when tossing the Gnomes from the Shake-Up Cup into the Gnome Catcher, because these numbers make you pay money into the MarketPlace. The Shake-Up Cup being a regular plastic dice cup and the Gnome Catcher being a sort of cloth hammock. The Houses are split into three distinct types, 1, 3 15 & 7 are Unlucky Buildings. 4,5,6,8,9,11,12 are Craft Houses and 2,10,13 and 14 are Lucky Structures - the 14th Building is the Marketplace which always begins with 40 Wonder Valley Bills (money) and has more Bills added to it during play. The object of the game is to end up with the most money when the game ends and the Game ends as soon as there are gnomeore storage spaces remaining, or two of the players have no goods left.

This may be for kids (the box says 8 years old plus) but as is quite usual for games from Zoch zum Spielen, adults with good senses of humour will find this both amusing and challenging. Each player selects a colour of Goods and takes 10 of them plus 400 in value of Wonder Bills, then the game mechanic now comes into play and is so simple but effectively frustrating and skillful.

The player who is at turn puts all 15 Gnomes; sadly the publishers decided to go with standard wooden pawns rather than have actual miniature plastic Gnomes, into the Shaker Cup, gives it a quick shake-up and in one fluent motion - hesitation, stop-starting or stuttering is not allowed - toss the Gnomes into the Catcher; at least one Gnome must leave the cup. Sounds easy doesn't it ? Shaking a cup filled with Pawns and flipping them out, that's all there is to it. EXCEPT you are generally trying to get specific numbers into the Catcher, in one fluent tipping of the cup. Gnomes that miss the Catcher still count so you cannot cheat that way. However many Gnomes that land in the Catcher is the number of the Building you may either Place one of your Goods at or Sell one of your Goods if you already have any there - you may have multiple Goods at the same Building. 

Note: The Pawns are in 3 different colours to make counting easier for young children. There is no significance in their colouring, though I am pretty sure given the time I could come up with a reason and thus advance the game beyond 8 years olds plus.

 

When placing a Goods token you have to put it on the lowest price of the Buildings value track. If there was already another Goods (anybody's) on that space then you move it up one space on the track; all Goods on the Track are similarly displaced. If one is moved up beyond the highest value then it is taken off the track and placed onto an unoccupied storage space and scores nothing. If instead of placing a Goods you remove one of your own Goods from the track then you are given money to the value of the track space it was on. Thus you have the skill of flopping out the Gnomes to get the result you want, the option as to whether to place or remove a Goods and the fun of watching your friends faces as you drop one of their just-about-to-be top earners over the edge, plus there are strategies that are somewhat luck based but strategies just the same.

As with all Zoch games the components are of good quality - even the wooden pawns are polished and not cheap plastic (a quick look online and I found "https://www.alibaba.com" who deal in large multiple sales of unique figures from around $0.05 each) -  and the rules are efficiently brief, specific, correct and concise as well as being multi-lingual  (English, French, Italian and German). Also like the majority of Zoch games SCHUTTEL'S is great to play. It's one of those games that you play because it's straight-forward feel-good fun, Win or Lose.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015