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Friedemann Friese's FIVE CUCUMBERS (FIVE GHERKINS is the more realistic translation) is a new
take on a Scandinavian favourite known as Agurk.

There are Trick-Taking games with just about every theme you can possibly think of, and I have played
many of them, as probably have you, but when it comes to things Green Friedemann Friese has the only
monopoly so why should I be surprised that his latest addition to the Trick-Taking game world features
everyone's favourite vegetable accompaniment for good old English Fish n Chips - the Gherkin. Yes the
English rules translation, that takes up the reverse side of the rules sheet - the front side has the German
rules - calls it FIVE CUCUMBERS but even if we accept the Gherkin to be a member of the cucumber
family there is no way that the wooden pieces - totally unnecessary but fun to have included - represent
cucumbers; they are definitely Gherkins (or Peppers or Snails or Racing Cars depending how you view
them, stand them on edge or lay them on the table (only joking).


The game is played over a set number of rounds, with the player who has scored the least at the end of the
last round being the winner. Tricks are played similarly to normal games of this type with a couple of minor
changes. It is these changes that make FIVE GHERKINS a different and more fun game.

To begin each player is dealt 7 cards from the shuffled deck, the rest of the deck is then set aside - thus each
Round is made up of 7 phases. The first player (chosen however suits) lays down any card they wish, the
following player then has to play an equal or higher card or the LOWEST card in their hand. The next player
then has to do the same either equalling or beating the highest played card as in normal Trick-Taking games -
there are no suits to follow - or playing their lowest card from their hand.

For example: Player A plays an 11. Player B can play and 11, a 12, 13, 14 or 15 (cards range from 1-15) or
the lowest card in their hand - they cannot choose to just play a card lower than 11. If you play a card that is
equal to the highest  played card then your card takes precedence and you win the Trick.

It is always the player who plays the highest value card that wins the Trick. You do not take a new card after
each turn, you play the 7 cards you were dealt over the 7 rounds. Only the last trick scores - the player who wins
the last trick has to collect Gherkin  tokens to the number of those shown on their winning card. However, there
is a possible twist for if one (or more)  of the other players have managed to hold on to a 1 value card as their last
card then the number of Gherkins collected is doubled (for each 1 played).

You control the game by winning Tricks as the winner of the previous Trick plays first in the next turn and that is the
key to winning the last Trick - or as you really want, losing it. After the 7th round, the Gherkin tokens are paid out and
the deck is again shuffled, 7 new cards dealt and a new round begins. The rules are all on one sheet of paper (roughly
5ins x 20ins) with English on one side and german language on the other. The rules are clear, concise and cool as a
cucumber, with the exception of not actually telling you the number of Rounds to play over or even giving you an
idea - it just says "several". The game can be played by up to 8 players (though you may run out of Tokens) and the
age really doesn't matter, except obviously being able to read and knowing your numbers from 1 to 15 is an advantage.

I have to admit that for a while I was fed up with Trick-Taking games, mainly because the so-called differences between
them really weren't bothering with, but FIVE GHERKINS is a really good fun game that can be played by gamers, families,
friends and easily introduced to and enjoyed by people who never usually play games of any type.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015