Cost:about $10.00 From: International Games (check any K-Mart) Players: 2-6 (best with 4) Playing Time: 30-45 minutes Type of game: Card Complexity: 5 Skill level: 6 Chance Level: 7 Overall: 10 Reviewed by: Peter Sarrett, Issue 1.1, June 1992
(Reviewed in the October 1991 and December 1991 issues of Games Magazine) Trumpet was named Game of the Year by Games Magazine. I'm not sure if it's the best game to come out this year, but there's no denying that Trumpet is a fun game worthy of accolades. It combines Bridge- like card play with strategic board movement. The object is to be the first player to advance your token to the finish line. There are 69 cards in the deck-- 11 each of six suits (hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades, crowns, and stars), plus three "shields". Players are dealt 7 cards, and one player "leads" by playing the card of his choice face up. Each player must play a card of the same suit as the card which was led (if he can). If you don't have any cards of that suit, you can play any card. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick, and that player advances his token to the next vacant space on the board. If other players' tokens are between him and the next vacant space, the player "leapfrogs" his token right over them. Thus, it's possible to pass all other players simply by winning a trick at the right time. Initially, all suits are ranked equally. But some spaces on the board are marked "Choose Trump." Landing on such a space gives a player the right to establish a trump suit. Cards of this suit are considered higher than the cards in all other suits. If a player cannot follow suit, he may instead play a card from the trump suit and take the trick (unless another player plays a higher trump card). The next time someone lands on Choose Trump they choose one of the remaining suits to become an even higher trump, until all 6 suits are ranked. From that point forward, landing on Choose Trump enables a player to switch the rankings of any two suits. The three "shields" beat all other cards, but you can still only play them if you're out of the suit which was led. If more than one player plays a shield in the same trick, the last shield played takes the trick. To make the end-game more exciting, players whose tokens are on the last few spaces of the board can opt, rather than moving their token forward, to move an opponent's token backward. Since new hands are dealt every 7 tricks, everyone's trump preferences shift frequently. In many trump card games, it's often wise to save your trumps. We've found that a good policy in Trumpet is "use 'em or lose 'em." Use your high trumps while the suit is still at the top of the rankings, or someone else is liable to switch trumps on you and render your hand useless. Timing is also extremely important. It's often advantageous to let opponents take tricks and move their pawns ahead of yours so you can take one trick at the right time and leapfrog onto a Choose Trump space. My only complaint about the game is that, with five players, the deck is one card short of having two complete deals and so you either have to shuffle after every hand or add another shield to the deck to make things even out. I find that shuffling every hand removes an element of strategy-- remembering which cards have been played and making decisions accordingly-- making the game a tad too random, so I opt to add an extra shield in this circumstance. Still, this is an extremely minor flaw. Trumpet is easy to learn, quick to play, more than a little addictive, and dirt cheap. Your sawbuck will be very well spent.