- Designers: Klaus-Jurgen Wrede & Ralph Querfurth
- Publisher: Schmidt Spiele
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 8+
- Time: 20 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by Schmidt Spiele
Echt Spitze was one of the games that was on my SPIEL 2022 list – I have been a big fan of the other games in the Schmidt Klein & Fein line, so this was something that I wanted to check out. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a SdJ winning game author either!
In this game, you will hunt for symbols hidden within soap bubbles on both sides of your page. To play the game, place the foam pad on the box cover; the players should agree on a level to play, and everyone gets a sheet from that level and a pen. All players fold a crease on the marked line and then unfolds it. Someone is the starting player and they get the 6 dice.
On a turn, the starting player rolls the dice and then chooses one of them, placing it on your sheet. You will use the number on this die for your column or row. Once all players have chosen a die, there will be 2 left. The active player can decide to either keep the numbers shown or re-roll those dice.
After the decision is enacted, everyone chooses one of the two dice in the middle, combining it with the one on their sheet to make a set of coordinates. That space on their sheet is X’d out. If you have a die with a question mark on it, this is wild and can be used for any number. If your die has a small X in a box icon, you can make an extra X mark in one of the 8 fields surrounding your target.
If you mark a cross on a space with a soap bubble, you burst the bubble, and you actually pierce your sheet with your pen. Flip your sheet over, mark that pierced space with an X if you can, and then you now play on this side of the sheet. The foam pad on the box top will help you do this without tearing your sheet. You will stay on this side until you hit another soap bubble and then flip back to the other side. If you choose a space which you have already crossed, you can mark it again (sometimes to use an extra X mark). If you choose a space which has already been pierced, you can decide if you want to flip the sheet or not – you do not have a choice for any time that you are initially piercing a space.
Now check to see if you have ticked all the symbols of a type (as you can then score). As with most roll and writes, if you are the first player to score a category, you get the higher score; all players who are able to do this later in the game will get the lower score. As you go, you can mark off the symbols in the scoring area so that you know what you still need to get. Also note that you can cross off stars for fully completed rows or columns. You can see how much each star is worth in the scoring section to the left of the front side of the sheet. Finally, pass the dice to the next player who repeats the process.
In level 1, the game ends when someone has scored their 3rd symbol type. Players sum their points at that time, including 5 points per star. Additionally, for each popped bubble that is not included in a star-scoring row, get 1 more point.
There are two more levels of sheets in the game, each with some slightly more advanced rules and some changes to scoring as a result.
It is also possible to play the game solo – in this version, you are limited to 14 turns to score your points. You only use the 3 dice which have the extra crosses. You will track the rounds using the light areas around the total score field on the sheet. On odd turns, (light spaces), you will put a ! in the space, and you are obligated to re-roll the two dice after you choose one. On evan turns (dark spaces), you will put a ? in the space, and you can choose whether or not you re-roll or not. Furthermore, as far as the scoring goes, any symbol scoring that you are able to achieve in the first half (7 rounds), you score the higher point value; therefore, you score the lower point value in the second half of the game. Try to get the highest score possible.
My thoughts on the game
As with most of the Klein & Fein games, this one is easy to teach – taking us less than 5 minutes to get started. The big bit of the strategy here is figuring out how to get the most out of the dice. It’s easy when you’re the starting player – as you get the decision to re-roll or not depending on whether you have a desirable second number in the leftovers. As a non-active player, you really have to choose carefully.
Sure, sometimes, the decision is easy – for the most part, it is almost an automatic no-brainer to take a question mark if available. Almost as automatic is taking a die with the “make an extra mark” symbol on it. While this isn’t as much of a guarantee as the wild card icon, being able to make an adjacent mark is almost always useful. While the bulk of the points are scored from the fruit bonuses, getting the 5VP for completing a row or column can be a really nice reward/consolation when you’re not able to pop the soap bubbles to get the fruits.
As you get started, you should try to figure out how to best manage the flipping. All of the fruits have items on both sides of the sheet, so you’ll be bouncing back and forth to get to all of them. Speed is fairly important as the bonus for being first to complete a set is pretty strong. As the game progresses, it’s important to remember that you are able to hit a previously punched space and stay on the current side – because sometimes your best play is to simply stay put and wait for a better pair of numbers on the next turn.
There are three different sheets in the game, and each has their own set of rules – and each of the boards does play fairly differently as a result. While we haven’t yet done so, I think it could be a nice game session to play all three consecutively and then sum up the scores to see who wins your mega Echt Spitze game.
While you definitely have choices to make on each of the scoring sheets, this is admittedly not too deep of a game – but this is completely in line with the Klein & Fein line. I think the game sets out to be an enjoyable, light, quick filler – and it delivers on this promise. Sure, there are plenty of roll and writes out there right now, but this does have the novelty of punching through the sheets with your pencil. I’d probably be more likely to play Voll Verplant or Noch Mal from this series, but I’d also probably never say no to this is someone requested. It remains in the game collection either way as it sits in a nice row of these Klein & Fein games on the shelf.
OG rating: Neutral
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor