Monday, August 17, 2020

6 nimmt! has not grown stale

 Ah, 6 nimmt! Also known as Category 5, Slide 5 and a whole host of other names. 

While I’m not taking a copy to any conventions this year, since I’m not going to any conventions in person, some version of this game has gone with me to conventions for many years. Basically because it’s easy to teach, plays up to a whopping ten players and everyone always has fun.

I’m prettty sure that anyone reading this far already knows how to play 6 nimmt!  but here’s the overview: Like golf, the object of the game is to get the fewest points. In the original version, that meant getting the fewest cow heads. (If the theme makes any sense, no one’s told me) The game consists of cards numbered from 1 to 104. Every card has some amount of cow heads with multiples of five and eleven having the most.

Each round, you deal out ten cards to each player then lay out four cards to start four rows. (So, in a ten player game, every card is in play) Everyone simultaneously selects and reveals a card. Then the cards are added to sequential order to the rows. Cards MUST be placed after the card that they are the numerically closest to.

If you chose a card that is a lower number than any card at the end of the four rows, you must take a row and your card starts the new row. If your card would be the sixth card in a row, you take that row and your card starts the new row. And those row cards don’t go in your hand, they go into your ugly score pile. Play all the cards in your hand and the game ends when someone passes a threshold of points, which varies depending on the edition. Fewest points wins.

Oh and there’s a strategic version where you only use cards numbered the player-count-times-ten-plus-four so everyone knows exactly what cards are being used in the game.

That was supposed to be one paragraph and I just paraphrased the entire rule book.

6 nimmit! came out over twenty years ago. I haven’t just been personally playing it for more than ten years, it’s been part of my basic game tool box for that time as well. The game is a bonafide classic.

Part of what makes it a classic is that the actually gameplay is very good. On the one hand, it is very simple to explain and understand and play. At the same time, there is enough room for making calculated risks. You can definitely play smart despite the random factor, although things get more random with higher player counts.

But it’s that up-to-ten-players with simultaneous play that pushes 6 nimmt! into the always pack it in the con bag territory. The ability to handle a large group with everyone engaged and playing at the same time, that is gold when combined with actual good gameplay.

6 nimmt! is a game that is fun even when playing smaller numbers like four or five, although there’s plenty of competition in its weight range for that number. But the flexibility to handle larger player counts without tons of downtime? That’s something that I have barely seen.

There’s a lot of competition for games that only take fifteen, twenty minutes. The fact that 6 nimmit! is still such a contender is strong praise.

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