Monday, December 1, 2003

Whist Variants

There are a lot of Whist variants. By "Whist variant" I mean any game reasonably closely resembling the trick taking style of Whist. I don't include "climbing trick-taking" games like Dalmuti, Frank's Zoo or Tichu, but do include Whist, Bridge, Mu, Wizard, Sticheln, Die Sieben Siegel, Spades, Hearts, Hattrick, Foppen, Flaschenteufel, Twilight, Oh Hell, and any number of other similar games.

Broadly, I think of these games as falling into 3 categories: "like Spades", "Klaus Palesch-like" and "clever". Obviously, Spades is much newer than many so you could argue that Spades is "like Bridge", not the other way around. I don't care. I think Spades, while perhaps not the pinnacle of Whist-like games, is a good ruler to measure by. Klaus Palesch doesn't have a monopoly on the kind of game I'm giving his name, but he sure makes a lot of them (Sticheln, Mit List und Tucke, Hattrick), but there are others such as David & Goliath by Reinhard Staupe. Finally, "clever" is obviously a very subjective term and I'm setting the bar pretty low, but some of those in this category are very very clever. Perhaps "none of the above" would be a better category name.

My favorite variety tend to be the "clever" games, but I enjoy all three types. What I don't understand though is the surprising enthusiasm people seem to have for the various "like Spades" games that appear, that, to me, are all pretty similar. In particular, recently "Die Sieben Siegel" has gotten some very positive reviews. Come on, it's a fine game, but I get enough of that with Spades or Wizard.

So, rather than try to fully categorize everything, I'm going to list and put some comments here on ones I am especially fond of in the "clever" category:

"Clever" Whist like games

  • Twilight/Jeckyl & Hyde. One of the best, cleverest in the category!

  • Foppen

  • Drahtseilakt

  • Schnappchen Jagd. This one almost goes in one of the other two categories, but it's just different enough.

  • Was Sticht? This one probably belongs in the "like Spades" category, but the hand drafting is pretty clever
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