No. of Players:
ranges from 3 to 50



Summer-Fun with HEIDELBERGER!!!

Especially the more sophisticated boardgames usually have a strikt player limit ranging from two to five or six participants, and so it is quite hard to find games suitable for playing them with a larger group. Okay, there are exceptions like Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg or Formula De which can be played even with 10 players, but even this kind of game only is suitable if such a large group is willing to position themselves around a table and listen to a fair set of rules in order to take part in the action.

Today I would like to present you three small alternatives which have been newly published by the German publisher and distributor HEIDELBERGER, and all three of these games share the common factors that

  • they come in rather small gameboxes containing just small rules and a stack of cards,
  • they are available for a rather cheap price, and
  • that they are absolutely gorgeous to play especially in a larger group.

The dark-looking Das perfekte Alibi is no crime-solving game in the common sense, but instead it is a game where the players focus on trying to find discrepancies in the alibis of the two suspects. The game is begun with the players choosing one of the to become the High Judge (and Referee) of the game, and the High Judge then accuses two other players to be suspected of having committed a crime. This crime can be determined by drawing on of a dozen crime cards, but more fun is the game when the High Judge uses his imagination to come up with an unusual and interesting plot. Next, an alibi-card is drawn and read to all players, pointing out the place where the suspects claim they have been at the time the crime was committed.

For a duration of three minutes the High Judge now puts the two suspects into isolation, giving them time to agree on possible answers which they might give in the upcoming interrogations. At the same time all the other players - the prosecutors - will have a chance to agree on questions which they will ask to the suspects in order to check the substance of their alibis.

When the time is up, the High Judge leads the first of the two suspects back into the room, whereas the second suspect still must remain in isolation. Now the fun part begins, since the prosecutors now will be allowed to ask the suspect their persistent questions. At this phase of the game the High Judge needs to be well aware of the rules of the game, since on the one hand the suspect is not allowed to answer repeatedly just with a negation, but he must come up with plausible answers. On the other hand the prosecutors only may ask questions in direct concern of the alibi, but nothing about the crime itself or unimportant side observations. So, if the suspects claim they have been in the cinema at the time if the crime, questions are allowed concerning the film, its plot, whether the suspects ate any sweets, where there were intermissions etc, but questions about the clothes the other suspect was wearing are on the borderline and questions like the composition of the change received when buying sweets are outright illegal.

The prosecutors interrogate one suspect after the other, and then it will be up to the High Judge to decide whether they have done a good job to uncover the fragmentary substance of the suspects' alibis. Usually the prosecutors should come up with eight to ten questions within the three minutes, and if more than half of them have been answered differently by each suspect the High Judge should give his verdict in favour of the prosecutors. If, on the other hand, the suspects gave good coordinated answers, they should be acquitted by the High Judge.

As you can see, Das perfekte Alibi is a very communicative game which demands of both sides a good teamplay to use their preparatory time with most effect. Three minutes might be a rush, but a longer time frame for the preparations would counterproductive as long questions and answers could be prepared which would slow down the pace of the game. As indicated, a good qualified person is needed to impersonate the High Judge, since it will be him how has the final say who has won the game. Finally, as an optional rule to generate even more atmosphere, each of the two groups (suspects and prosecutors) also can be allowed to choose a speaker to make a final pleading, and so, if played in a group of active and partaking players, Das perfekte Alibi offers a high entertainment value

The second game in the trio is something for hunters and linguist experts alike, since the fun-game Der Heidelbär humorously makes fun of the publisher's heraldic animal. The game is deeply rooted in some malapropisms of the German language, focusing on the fact that many people use the German word for "bear" in all kinds of phonetic similar circumstances. Sounds highly intellectual and boring for a game? Definitely not!


Okay, the fun in Der Heidelbär requires the players to speak and understand a minimum of German in order to catch the jokes in the game, but if this minimum hurdle is taken a group of like-minded players really will enjoy this creative hunt for yet unknown word stems. So, the pronunciation of words like "Heidelberg", "November" or "überall" can be twisted as to sound like "Heidelbärg", "Novembär" or "übärall", and so the game playfully will teach the players to what a large extend the German language has been infiltrated by these furry creatures.

All preparation which is needed is that a deck of Bear-cards is shuffled, and each player is dealt a hand of three cards from which he only may see the topmost card. Each card features two of these rather specific Bär-words, and the player sitting left of the active player announces whether the active player has to use the upper or the lower word. Once this announcement was made, the active player is required to find a short description of the word on his card and give this description to the other players in the hope that they may identify the Bär-word described. However, a few rules need to be observed, and so the description only may have a maximum length of six (!!!) words and the first two words always must be "Dieser Bär…" ("This bear…"). Furthermore, no words may be used which are part of the word which the players have to look for, and so the active player will have to use his imagination in order to find a good description.

The other players then will have to guess which word could be described, and the first player who has an idea must slam his paw on the table and then is allowed to speak out his idea. If the solution is right the Bear-card is given as a reward to the successful riddler, and the active player collects two new cards from the stack as a reward as well. However, if the attempt to find the Bär-word was not successful, all other players have one try in order to solve the mystery. If no one is successful, the card is not won but instead remains on the hand of the active player.

Either way, the game then continues clockwise with the next player becoming active player, and now it will be his turn to present the others with a furry Bär-word from his topmost card. The game continues this way until all cards from the stack have been won and distributed, and then each player adds up the cards he has won plus his hand cards in order to get his final score.

As indicated, the game can only be enjoyed if the players speak and understand German to some degree, but on the other hand I can imagine this easy playing mechanism to be translated into other languages. As for the German version, the game has proved itself in different playing groups and an ideal Beer'n Pretzels games, and it certainly has lead to new insights about the life and habitat of our furry friends.

Most unusual amongst the three new games is Erwischt!, a game which is quite unlike any other game I have played yet. As a matter of fact, Erwischt! is not even played as the main activity of a group, but instead it progresses as a sideline whereas the main event of the meeting of the players might be a party or even a boardgame.

In Erwischt! each player is assigned a random card which lists three activities of increasing strangeness, and when the cards have been distributed the players are supposed to watch each other for any strange kinds of behaviour. Each of the players can score points by performing an activity listed on his card without being captured by the others, whereas any other player may cry out Erwischt! (Gotcha!) if he suspects a player to perform a deed listed on his card.

As indicated, the playing cards list different kinds of behaviour, ranging from a talk about Psychology over standing on one leg or other strange kinds of movements, and it is up to the players to hide and cover their actions as well as they can without actually leaving the presence of other players. If they are successful with their performance without being discovered, the players must wait for another 30 seconds to see if anybody reacts, and then the successful performer may uncover his action to the other players in order to be assigned his score. If, on the other hand, another player has uncovered the action, the player must reveal what he has done and may not try on this deed again.

After a set period of time the players stop and add up their scores, assigning negative points for deeds which have not even been tried. Thus, it is always better to try an action and fail than to pass the opportunity altogether. This actually results in the players performing all kinds of strange diversions to lead the other players off track, and so the whole group is deemed to spend a rather unusual and exciting evening.

A tiny bit more calculation and competition comes into play through the variant rules allowing the collection and loosing of points, since now all players start with a balance of 5 victory points. As normal the players get victory points for performing the actions on their cards, but now they will loose a point to a player who successfully uncovers an action. However, a counterbalance here is created by forcing a penalty upon a player who makes a wrong accusation, and so the players watch each other more carefully before an accusation is made.

As with most party games, players must be in a mood to participate in order to allow Erwischt! to develop its full flavour. The event where the game is played must be chosen carefully, since not-participating guests quickly may become annoyed by the watchful activities around them. The rules list a wedding as a perfect opportunity for the game, but honestly I would more recommend the game to be played at a medium-sized party where everybody agrees to take part. Here the game is absolutely enjoyable and will quickly intrigue everybody with a rather uncommon approach to a sociable event!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2009 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany