Cost: $35 From: Moskito Players: 3-5 Playing Time: 60-120 minutes Type of game: Family Complexity: 8 Skill level: 4 Reviewed by: Peter Sarrett, Issue 3.3, Summer 1995
Maybe this is a case of something being overhyped. Or perhaps it's just a matter of different strokes for different folks. The advance press on Das Regeln Wir Schon— mostly, now that I think about it, from Alan Moon— was glowingly positive. The best game from this year's Essen show, yadda yadda yadda. And after hearing a description of the game, I was very excited. I'd toyed with a game design, which I'd imaginatively called "Rulez", which was based on a similar theme— a game about changing the rules of the game. So, despite the warning that there was a lot of German to translate in order to be able to play, I was really looking forward to this one. Now that I've played, I can't make up my mind about it.
The rule cards (all of which are in German, so be prepared to create an English deck out of index cards or a regular deck with labels affixed to them) are divided into five sets. The first two— Prediction rules and Scoring rules— are stacked to one side and one of each set is turned face up. Two cards from each of the other three sets— Voting rules, Value rules, and Special rules— are turned face up, then the rest are dealt out to players.
A player's turn consists of playing a card from his hand. Everyone votes on whether or not to accept that card as a new rule by setting 1-4 voting tiles to show YES or NO. If a majority of votes are for it, the rule replaces one of the rules of the same type currently showing (so a Voting rule would replace a Voting rule). Thus, two rules of each type are always in effect. If the rule is not voted in, it is discarded. Depending on the rules currently in play, some players may gain or lose points or chips at this time. Everyone discards all but one of the voting tiles they used, and then the next player goes. Unless everyone voted with only one tile each, in which case the round ends and scoring begins.
There are four colors of wooden chips, each of which is normally worth one point. Value rules can change this, making certain colors worth anywhere from zero to three points. Everyone chooses an assortment of chips at the start of the game, and then gains or loses more as a result of Voting or Special rules. For example, a Voting rule might let everyone who votes on the losing side draw two more chips, or award a chip if you vote the same way as the player to your left.
Scoring is governed by the current Scoring rule. In the simplest case, players merely total the value of their chips (as dictated by the current Value rules) and add any bonuses from other rules. Later, scoring might involve doubling or tripling chip values, or scoring for only one chip color, or only scoring for sets of chips.
But wait, there's more. At the start of each round, players make a prediction as dictated by the current Prediction rule. This may mean predicting what position they'll be in the game at the end of the next round, who will be in first place, etc. Predictions from the previous prediction round are revealed, and anyone who predicted correctly earns points. New Prediction and Scoring rules are chosen, and everyone makes a new prediction for the next round. Everyone keeps their chips for the new round. The current Voting, Value, and Special rules remain in effect, and everyone gets all their voting tiles back. Play continues with the next player offering up a rule for voting. After five rounds, whoever has the most points is the winner.
Confused? That was our problem, too. There's a lot to keep track of in Das Regeln Wir Schon— and I've left out a few rules for the sake of simplification. The game has a number of rule cards designed to help losing players catch up, so nobody is ever really out of the running. On the other hand, scoring can be so topsy-turvy that the whole affair winds up feeling random. The game received a much cooler reception from the other players.
I think my friends were put off by the length of the game, which took longer than it should have for what it is, and by the confusing nature of the play sequence and scoring. It's hard to tell who's doing well during each round. People felt like they had no idea what they were doing, which frustrated them. In the end, I don't think my friends found the game all that exciting. I rather enjoyed the mechanics and didn't mind the chaos. Unfortunately, it's pretty clear that the game won't get played again in this group. Which seems a shame, because I think there's a good game lurking in there if only they'd give it another shot.