The Great Dalmuti
5th March 2019
The final game of the night at 'The Sovereigns). Game 3 was 'The Great Dalmuti'.
The Great Dalmuti is a card game designed by Richard Garfield - he who invented 'Magic: The Gathering'. In fact, The Great Dalmuti was the first game Richard Garfield designed after Magic - and it was another card game!
There was a lot of speculation about what this game could be?
It turned out that it was a 'normal' card game.
It also turned out that it is a good card game.
The Great Dalmuti is a trick-laying card game with a little twist: It's all about social inequality.
At the start of every game a social hierarchy is established (either by cutting the deck or the finishing order in the previous game).
The social order goes like:
Greater Dalmuti: Sitting at the top of the heap is The Greater Dalmuti.
Lesser Dalmuti: Next is the Lesser Dalmuti, lower than Greater Dalmuti, but higher than the Merchant classes. He know his place - much like the Two Ronnies sketch.
Merchants: There can be up to 4 Merchants in a game, they are also arranged according to the social hierarchy.
Lesser Peon: The Lesser Peon is not quite bottom of the heap, that is reserved for...
Greater Peon: The Greater Peon, who truly is at the bottom. Even worse; the Greater Peon must shuffle and deal cards out at the start of the game.
Once the social order has been established, players must change seats according to their position in the hierarchy.
The Greater Dalmuti doesn't have to move (and why should he, he's the most important player in the game). So The Lesser Dalmuti sits to the left of The Greater Dalmuti. To the left of The Lesser Dalmuti sit the Merchants, starting with the most important merchant and going downwards in order to the left. To the left of the lowest merchant sits The Lesser Peon and finally to the left of The Lesser Peon sits The Greater Peon.
Interestingly, this means that The Greater Dalmuti is to the left of the Greater Peon and that they sit next to each other.
Next, the rules need to be explained before talking about how the game's twist affects the gameplay.
The deck of cards consists of 80 cards.
The goal is to empty your hand of cards. This is done by playing 'tricks'.
Whoever is The Greater Dalmuti begins the first round of the game. In subsequent rounds, whoever last played a trick begins the round.
So that's the rules, what about the twist? What about the social inequality?
That's where taxation comes in. What's taxation?
However, during taxation, there is a small chance of something called revolution. This is how revolution works.
And that's the rules, with a small twist of inequality thrown in for good measure.
This inequality makes for some interesting asymmetrical game play. When playing, what tends to happen is that the players at the higher end of the hierarchy tend to dominate the first few rounds, (quite often, by the time play reaches the lower positioned players, they have to pass) this allows the higher ranked players to dominate.
But usually, at some point the Peons will get to start a round; then they tend to steamroller everyone else for a while. When a Peon player decides to lay (as their first trick) something like 7 12s, it's likely that The Greater Dalmuti player won't even have 7 cards in their hand, nevermind 7 cards that match!
Whilst the lower value cards are better, sometimes they cannot match the number of higher numbered cards that are played.
Like all good games, your decisions here are very important. Sometimes you have to resist the urge to always just get rid of your worst cards (very often a sound strategy) to retain a set or keep a good card for later.
EG; do you break a set of 3 cards to play a trick now or retain them, so that later they can be used make a trick harder to trump.
Being able to 'control' when a trick ends, so that you get to determine the cards that start the next trick is very useful.
The Great Dalmuti is a quick and easy game that is fun to play and I only have 2 minor gripes about the game.
Other than that, it's nice little game.
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