Designer: 新澤 大樹 (Taiki Shinzawa)
Artist: 菅原 美沙穂 (Misaho Sugawara)
Publisher: 倦怠期 (Kentaiki)
Playing Time: 20 minutes
Times Played: 4 with a purchased copy, 2 with exhibition rules on mocked-up components
I woke up the morning of January 20 this year, to find a new .txt file in a shared Google Drive folder. It was sparse, a single page, and in Japanese.
I’m not sure what time it was, between 7 and 8 AM, and probably closer to 7. I had looked at the file on my phone, but that wasn’t going to work. I threw open my laptop on the breakfast table, and copied and pasted the file into Google Translate.
If this translation would be clear enough, I had 20 friends at a house a mile or two away that I could play this with in about an hour!
That day in Japan, my friend kumagoro_h was hosting an exhibition entitled これはトリテなのか？(Is this a trick-taking game?), where designers had submitted trick-taking designs that were maybe not quite what you’d spend money on at your local game shop. These pushed a little at the envelope in different directions, as they become more conceptual and less commercial.
I skimmed the rules, and it looked clear enough. Wait, the game does what. We don’t what. Oh my. I opened a new tab and messaged Dale to see if he could put together a deck of one 1, two 2s, etc. Did we have decks of cards where we could scrounge ten 10s with the same back? Oh, and they’d need to be indexed in the upper right.
I had a game about hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe that I wanted to try.
We played Zimbabweee Trick twice that day in January, and then it was released in a published version at the Spring Tokyo Game Market in May.
The more I study Taiki’s trick-taking designs, the more common themes I see connecting them beneath the surface – including a memory element where what you play to the next trick is entangled with what you played to the trick before. That is especially apparent here, as cards aren’t played to the center of the table -they’re played in front of you- and when the trick is over, the cards are not removed.
Rather, you’ll play your next card atop the previous one, slightly splayed to the left, so that through the upper-right indexing, one number is formed with all of your played cards.
If you play a 6 to the first trick and a 4 to the second, you’ve actually played a 6, followed by a 46. If you follow suit with a 10 to the third trick, you’re at 1046, and a 7 in the fourth trick will put you at 7046, as you only retain the one’s digit.
Taiki’s bidding design here is more forgiving than usual, as you’ll earn 2 points per trick for hitting your bid exactly, and 1 point for each trick if you miss. However, in keeping with the theme of the game, the player who wins the most tricks will lose, for similar reasons to QE: run-away hyper-inflation has devalued your currency.
You are following “suit” here, though you could also consider it as following “rank”, as all of the 10s are the same color, all of the 9s are another color, and on down. This is quirky as the odds that another player can follow is quite high for some suits, and almost assuredly impossible in others. The corollary of that is that there will likely be a tie on some ranks, since following suit means the ranks are the same, and the later player in turn order will “win” ties, and you can almost assuredly lose other tricks, as lower value cards are less common, and someone not following “suit” is likely playing a higher ranked card.
It’s a game about the mantissa, if I may. Can you separate yourself -higher when you need to climb the cliff to your bid, and lower when the time comes to jump off this ride- from your opponents in the decimal places of your play.
It is a game that usually sparks some discussion regarding the legitimacy of it being a game, though I don’t think its resume as a trick-taking game is in doubt. I’ve certainly seen hands where with a sufficient number of 9s, the player was unlikely to not win an excess of tricks, and didn’t have too much of a choice not to win (though that was in the January unpublished days, and the final version does include a variant for playing a series of games rather than a single hand.)
There will be tricks, and perhaps more than average, where you’ll need to follow suit, and this may seem like less agency than normal, as within that suit, you’ll only have one rank. The “game” here resides more in the bid and what you choose to play when you are able to throw off. The multi-handed game could outstay its welcome, but as a surprise course or an apértif, it has just the right proportions of whimsy that I welcome it in my collection.
Wait. I just realized I left out one of the most humorous and important parts. The rules stress players should say the number they have played aloud, as it is exciting to speak them. I think you’ll find you’ll have more fun if when you play that 7 above, you don’t say “seven”, but rather “seven thousand forty-six”, and when you get to it, “four hundred ninety-nine billion, five hundred eighty-eight million, seven thousand forty-six.”
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Jonathan F.: I really enjoyed the idea of this game – you are basically creating larger and larger numbers by splaying each card left. I do think it would be an amusing game after having had an apértif or two because saying the absurd numbers is part of the fun, even if it does make the game go longer. How often do you get to say three nonillion? That said, I don’t think it is a tt that fits into a regular rotation and remains a fun novelty.
Dale Y: So, I love the idea of this game. It’s a great idea, and something I haven’t seen before. Is it a trick taking game? I don’t think so (by my own internal definition), but I would say that it definitely is a game. But… is it a game that I like? I’m not sure. I like the way you can feint with a 10, getting an advantage for the current trick and then dropping back down to the minimum value for that unit value afterwards. I find that the bidding here, as with almost all Taiki games, is un-necessarily harsh, and sometimes hard to swallow in this game. Hand management is of paramount importance here, because you have to save a low card or two for the end of the game or else you’ll never lose a trick! I know that some people will love the tightness of the bidding; i find it more frustrating than appealing.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it. James Nathan, Jonathan F.
Neutral. Dale Y
Not for me…