Author: Michael Rieneck

Publisher: KOSMOS 2005

Awards: none



Following good tradition, KOSMOS once again released a new title for their successful series of two-player-games at the Nürnberg Convention in February 2005. The new game Petri Heil by Michael Rieneck is the third game of this author in the two-player-games series, and after his last title Dracula I was rather eager to see whether the new game would keep the high standard set by its predecessor.

As for its background story, the title of the new game already suggests that it is concerned with the sport of fishing, since "Petri Heil" in german is the traditional greeting which is used by sport fishers to wish each other luck for the day. Thus, in Petri Heil the players will go fishing, and the game will be won by the player who has caught the most valuable fishes.

The game itself will be played in two rounds, in each of which one player takes the role of the fishers while the other player will take control over the population of the fishing pond. The game is set up in a way that the 4x4 squares fishing pond is placed on the middle of the table and the player in control of the pond now will randomly place 16 stand-up pond-cards on the squares of the pond. Each of these cards shows something which can be found in the pond - with most cards displaying fishes of varying size and value but also a few cards showing dumped items and even a diver. These pond-cards are arranged in a way so that only the player in control of the pond may see what is shown on each card, since it will be the task of the player in control of the fishermen to find the most valuable fishes in the pond.

Around the pond one "fishing space" corresponds to each row of spaces in the pond, and thus the pond is surrounded by a total of 20 spaces which form a "frame" around the pond. Once all pond-cards have been placed, the player with the fishers now will place his two fisher-figures on different fishing-spaces around the pond. These spaces will be marked so that it will be remembered where the fishers started their round around the pond. Finally, the fisher receives a total of 12 fishing cards (three each of a value of 1, 2, 3 and 4) plus two special cards, whereas the pond-player just receives three special cards. With the distribution of the cards done, the game is ready to play.


During a game turn, the first thing to be done is that the fisher must move ONE of his two fishers at last ONE fishing-space forward, moving in clockwise direction around the pond (a move of at least one space is compulsory, but it is at the player's digression to move more than one space if he should desire to do so). Once the fisher has moved one of his figures, it will now be the task of the pond-player to reveal one of the pond-cards from the row of spaces which faces the fishing-space of the just moved figure. The pond-player may decide which card he wants to reveal - as long as it is a card on one of the four spaces facing the corresponding fishing-space (the only card which may not be revealed on the choice of the pond-player is the diver). After the card has been revealed, it will now be up to the fisher to decide whether he wants to catch a pond-card from this row. The fisher may decide to catch either the card revealed by the pond-player or one of the other cards from the row, PROVIDED he still has a fishing card available showing as a value to corresponding distance between the current position of the fisher's figure and the pond-card he wants to catch. The fisher ONLY is allowed to catch a pond-card if he can discard a corresponding fishing-card, regardless whether he wants to catch the revealed card or one of the unrevealed cards. If the fisher makes a catch, he has to discard the corresponding fishing-card and in addition he has to move a number of fishing-spaces clockwise around the pond corresponding to the fishing card he has discarded. Finally, the turn comes to its end with the pond player being allowed to move up to three pond-cards either on horizontal or vertical direction through EMPTY spaces in the fishing pond.

The game now continues with further turns which are played in likewise manner. It's always the fisher who first has to move one of his two figures before he may make a catch from the pond-row the figure now faces. However, as the game goes on, it will get harder and harder for the fisher to make catches since he will slowly run out of fishing cards. Additional variation is added by the special cards available to the fisher and the pond-player, since these cards can be used by the players to force each other to do or refrain from doing some actions. All fishes caught from the pond will go to the stockpile of the fisher, whereas any dumped items will just be discarded and the diver will be put back into the pond. The whole round ends as soon as both fisher figures have rounded the lake and have come back to their starting spaces, and then the fisher will add up the values of all fishes he has caught.

The game then will be played for a second round with the players switching sides, and the winner will be the player with the more valuable fishes caught during his round as a fisher. However, if there should be a draw after the two rounds, the player who was fisher for the FIRST round will be the winner, since the player who plays fisher second will have a slight tactical advantage since he knows how many fishes he needs to catch to win the game.

Once again Michael Rieneck has created a game which demands of the players to keep track of the different cards on the gameboard. As it has been in Dracula, the new game has a playing mechanism which basically can be linked to classic Memory-style games and which then has been enriched by a new set of additional rules. Petri Heil is a very strategic game with more options available to the players than might be guessed at first sight, but to my mind these strategic options sometimes show a possibility to "overburden" the players with available choices. Thus, while playing the game, for a long time I had a feeling that I had no full control over what was happening at the gameboard, since too many options needed to be observed at the same time: available fishing cards, movement of the fishers before and after fishing, movement of the pond cards, special cards etc. This confusion somewhat subsided after a few games, but it makes me point out that Petri Heil is not a game which can be played in fast and lightheaded manner. In a way, it was as difficult to play as Kahuna has been some years ago.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2005 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Trier, Germany