Designer: Spartaco Albertarelli
Artist: Chiara Verceresi
Publisher: KaleidosGames, Oliphante
Time: 30 mins
Times played: endless time Scopa and Scopone and many times Primiera
Almost all Italian people know what are Scopa and Scopone, traditional games that can be played with the common 40 cards Italian deck. Accidentally outside Italy this great games are almost unknown and here come Spartaco Albertarelli‘s idea to write down a new version of Scopa’s and Scopone’s rules, including also in the box the “normal” ones, and dress it in a really well illustrated special 40 cards deck with strong connection to Italian original tradition. So, what here in Italy is “just” one of the best and most played traditional card games could become an international success: Primiera. In the end some interesting question/answers with the designer.
Primiera is a 4 player game and the rules are quite simple. Here you can find international rules. The 40 cards deck has 4 suit: swords, cups, golds and clubs going from 1 to 10. Every card has also a primiera’s value: 21 for the 7, 18 for the 6, 16 for the ace, 15 for the 5, 14 for the 4, 13 for the 3, 12 for the 2, 10 for the 10, 9 for the 9 and so on. Every player get a random Ace (Harald) and 9 random cards. Every player select simultaneously one of his card and this 4 cards are placed face-up in the center of the table. The starting player plays a card and than the game goes counter-clockwise until all the cards are played. If you play a card of the same value of a card already on the table you take both the card; if your card is valued like the sum of other cards in the table you take all the cards; otherwise your card is placed face-up in the center of the table. If you are able to take all the cards in the table you will score 1 point (scopa).
The first harald played will determinate the team:
cups – you will play with the player in front of you
clubs – you will play with the player on your left
golds – you will play with the player on your right
swords – no pairs!
When all the cards are played the point are scored. The team with most golds’s cards will score 1 point. The team with more cards will score 1 point. The team with the highest primiera value, counting just the higher valued card for each suit will score 1 point. The team with the 7 of gold (“Sette Bello”), will score 1 pint. Finally the team will add the points for the scopas.
Then the card are shuffled and the game played again until a single player will reach and/or pass 21 points.
The game is really nice: it has all the deepness of standard Scopone with some nice twist. You can also play it with the traditional Scopa’s (for 2-3 players) or Scopone’s (for 4 players) rules that are included in the box. A real nice opportunity to gamers to learn one of the best traditional italian card games.
The game will also be supported with an Indigogo crowfunding campaign.
I have asked Spartaco something about this game.
[Liga] Primiera is a nice reimplementation of Scopa/Scopone, something, as far as I know, not yet done. Do you think it could attract Scopone’s players and/or make Scopa and Scopone better known in gamers community ?
[Spartaco] Well, the “crazy” idea is to create a “medium” to let the world discover one of the finest card game, adding a simple twist and a deck of fully illustrated cards. I’m a big fan of Scopone. I love the simple rules and the sophisticated strategies of the original game and I’m really sorry that this little “gem” is relegated to the role of a simple popular game. To be honest I’m much more interested in the international players than the Italian ones, but I would be the happiest game designer in the world if some young Italian player would discover the classic game thanks to my “crazy idea”
[Liga] The main (only) difference with Scopa/Scopone is that the pairs are not fixed but changing from game to game according to the first Ace played. This, obviously, also change how aces are distributed (1 for each player) and how they are used. Do you think it will be welcomed by usual Scopone’s players ?
[Spartaco] Good question, but as I told you the project as been designed having in mind the players who don’t know the classic game. Of course, for the Italian players the “Heralds” (Ace cards) will be the only (but big) difference when comparing Primiera with the classic game, but my hope is that the entire game system will be a surprise for the others. Anyway, the idea to play the classic game with not fixed teams opens a world of new strategies that can be interesting also for the Italians.
[Liga] How long have you play-tested this game ? Have you tested it with gamers and/or Scopone’s players ?
[Spartaco] Primiera is a project I have in my “drawers” since many years. I played it many times using a standard deck. It works very well but with a standard deck it’s quite complex to play because you need to memorize the special role of the Ace and you need to remember very well the primiera value of every single cards (can sounds strange but this is one of the most difficult thing to remember also for the player who are used to play Scopone). This is the reason why I decided to create a completely new deck with all the needed infos printed directly on the cards.
[Liga] Actually the 2-3 players rules are simply traditional Scopa’s rules. Why not try to propose also something new for 2-3 players ?
[Spartaco] The answer is always the same: because we are proposing the game to an international audience. The rules that sound familiar to the Italian players can be totally unknown to the rest of the world. Anyway, we are planning to publish on our website (www.kaleidosgames.com) a page dedicated to the game variants. We already have many available, and we also hope to receive some nice suggestion from our fans. Francois Haffner, the French translator of the rules, already sent me an interesting idea. We are also planning to create some special cards to improve the deck.
It pleases me to see someone finally publishing a Scopa deck with the primiera points printed directly on the cards. It’s a wonderful game but the primiera scoring is always a bit confusing for new players – this will definitely make it easier.
Does the Sette Bello have any point indicator or anything special about its design to highlight that it is an especially important card to capture?
Thank you Ross I’m happy that you like the idea. For what concerns the “settebello” (Seven of coins), the answer is: no. We thought about it, but finally we decided not to highlight is role. Take in consideration that all the suits already have a different color, so it’s quite easy to remember that that the “gold” one is special. Anyway, if you like to have a look at the cards, we are publishing them on our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/primiera.net.
Last summer I played the game “Gelb Gewinnt” with German friends. That is actually a simplified form of the Scopa/Scopone game described above – which I hadn’t heard of before.
I found Gelb Gewinnt to be a pretty boring game however, but that was mostly because it is played in rounds where you start with a hand size of three cards. This means there is hardly any room for strategy. That would probably a lot better with 10 card hands.
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