As a games designer I often genuinely admire games created by others. Some games I am in awe of and others I simply enjoy playing because they are clever or interesting, have super pieces/board or are highly amusing. There are also a few games that I would have really loved to have come up with. Two of those games are cards games, one is the never failing FLUXX and the other is Wolfgang Kramer's 6 nimmt! which is both a challenge and highly amusing.
The premise is simple; each player has a hand of 10 cards and has to get rid of them whilst collecting the least Bull Heads - the icons on the cards. When players have played 10 turns each, playing a single card each turn, the round ends and scoring occurs. The Bull Heads on the cards "won" are counted and noted on a score sheet (not supplied). If a player reaches or passes 66 then the game is over and the winner is the player with the least points. If no one reaches 66 then shuffle the deck, deal 10 cards to each player and start again, playing all cards out as before. After 2 rounds it is almost a certainty that someone will have reached 66 but if not, then play again.
The cards are marked 1-99 and in a variety of colours which are there to make the game look pleasing to the eye and also so you can quickly see, at a glance, which line is likely to be the highest value (in Bulls Heads). The colours indicate higher scores (Bull Heads) on the cards. White cards are only worth 1 Bull Head, Blue cards are valued at 2, Green at 3 and Red at 5 with the 55 being specially multi-coloured and with a high value of 7.
Play is as easy as pie, though frustrating (and amusing) at times. Four cards are placed on the table in a column, one under the other. They are dealt from the shuffled deck and then arranged so that the lowest valued card is at the top of the column and then in descending order. Players then all take one card from their hands and place it face down in front of them. When all players have chosen a card, note that you choose the card you wish to play, then all cards are turned over. The player with the lowest valued card places their card first and so on until all players have played their face down card - no one can pass at any time.
When players play a card from their hand they have to play their chosen card adjacent to one of the cards in the column, the card that is closest in ascending value to the card they are playing. For example if the column has the cards 5, 12, 46, 87 and you play a 9 then you have to play it next to the 5. If you had played the 45 card it would have been played next to the 12 as it is lower than the next card in the column (46). As the game continues so the columns turn into Rows and you are creating Rows and Columns always playing next to the nearest card value in ascending order.
Of course there will be times when you do not hold a card that is higher than any of the cards in the display, in which case you pick a row and place you card behind the first card in the row, collecting all the cards in that row into a stack which you keep face down in front of you, and move your just played card into position to start a new row.
The beauty of this card game is that it is so simple and yet so much of a challenge. You get to play the card you want to play, you are not governed by any rule or law except that you must play a card each turn. You do not have to play the highest card or the lowest card that you hold. You can choose to take a row from the display at any time by playing a card that cannot be played legally onto the display. There is a fair amount of luck but there is also some judgment involved. Because only 10 cards per player plus 4 are removed from the 99 card deck you are never sure if hanging onto a card is a good idea or a bad idea. There's nothing like thinking you are going to play 59, for example, as the fifth card in the row forcing someone to have to play a sixth card and the one of your players plays the 58 which goes before your card leaving you to take the row. Rows may only ever have 5 cards in them so by playing the sixth card you actually have to take the five cards and place the sixth (your card) as the start of a new row. 6 nimmt! (which I understand translates as "Take Six") is actually a misnomer because you only "Take Five" cards, the sixth is the card that kills the row.
When explained out loud or the rules read the game sounds too simple to be enjoyable, but it is a fascinating and clever mathematical challenge of a game for all ages (as long as they know their numbers and can count).
It is great that MAYFAIR GAMES are now publishing 6 nimmt! as I am sure there are thousands of people who have never played it because it was originally in German language only, despite there being English rules available online. I am surprised that MAYFAIR have called it 6 nimmt! though and not gone for an English translated title with the original name in parentheses underneath it. I just hope because everything else on the box is in English that people won't shy away from the game because of the German title.
Verdict: A great game that should be in every game's players collection.