MUCKENSTICH - Reviewed by Mike

Category/Format: Abstract/Card Game

A quirky trick-taking game of which the best feature is the scoring system and makes for a good opener to a session.

Components consist of cards in 4 colours, numbered 1-11 and 2 number 12's. In addition there are 3 Mosquito cards of each colour. Finally there are 2 double-sided cards on which are depicted graphics representing the 4 colours; these denote the Trump Colour in force at any time during play.

The number of rounds played is equal to the number of participants. The cards (excluding the Trump Colour cards) are shuffled and an appropriate number dealt to each player, meaning that most of the cards are in play. If less than 6 are playing, each player discards 2 cards before the trick-taking begins.

In the final scoring each numbered card count as Plus 1 point and each Mosquito card counts as Minus 5 points (except if you have more than 1 of the same colour and then subsequent ones count as zero points). So when considering playing to a trick you are trying to win those with numbered cards but without mosquitoes.

Players must follow the colour of the suit led if they can. Tricks are ranked 1-12, then mosquito. A second 12 outranks a previous one, a second or third mosquito "stings" a previous one and outranks it. If unable to follow they may discard another card or play a mosquito card of a different colour, thereby 'dumping' minus 5 points on the trick winner ! Tricks won are placed face down on the table and cannot be looked at until the end of the round.

Each time a mosquito card is laid the player decides which Trump Colour is to be in force, even mid-trick! This colour stays as Trumps until a subsequent mosquito is played.

Now to the neat twist in the scoring system which I mentioned earlier. Once the hand has been played out :

· the player with the fewest tricks nominates a colour for which all plus cards will be doubled. (not mosquitoes)

· The player with the most tricks will nominate a colour which will not score this round (not mosquitoes).

If there are ties for either of the above the modification does not take place.

Players now total their cards as appropriate, subtracting any minus points for mosquitoes and the results are noted on the score sheet (NB: can be negative!). The player with the most points after the requisite number of rounds is the winner.

Hopefully you will get a flavour for the game from this brief description. It's quite possible to have a nice long suit in say Greens and collect a few plus points and then find that some rotten sod dumps a mosquito on you. You may have managed to acquire say 8 or 9 number cards in Green with no mosquitos and then the player who selects which colour is not scored nominates Green !…Doh !!

Maybe not quite in the class of Hattrick, David & Goliath etc but still a good effort in my opinion.

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