Doug Adams writes:
Designer: Klaus Teuber
Adel Verflichtet is an intriguing game. Some claim it to be one of the best boardgames ever invented, others claim it's an over hyped version of rock-paper-scissors. Personally, I think it's a very good game, for family or the fun loving gaming crowd.
When teaching this game to new players, I always struggle. It is one of the easiest games you'll ever play, but try and get that across in terms of play mechanics! I usually just end up playing a couple of example turns with new players and then it's into the action. I mention this simply because if I have trouble explaining it, how shall I go reviewing it? We shall see...
The game has been released under various guises. Adel Verflichtet, By Fair Means or Foul, and By Hook or By Crook. As far as I know, they are all identical in terms of play, although the FX Schmid version has the better components.
The players in this game are cast into the role of crusty, aristocratic art collectors. The aim of the game is to collect the best collection of art, to maintain it and to put it to good use by exhibiting it. The player who achieves this will advance further around the board, and it's the player who advances the furthest who will win the game.
It's easy to play, but not easy to explain HOW to play! The players are after art, to flesh out their collection and to thus advance along a scoring track around the outside of the game board. The interior of the game board is used as storage space for the various cards.
These decision cards are what drives the rock-paper-scissors element in the game. The cards have a number "1" or "2" printed on them. To play a round of the game, every player takes up their "1" cards and selects one of them. This is easy as there are only two of these cards - the Auctionhouse and the Castle. The cards are revealed simultaneously, thus instantly revealing to the other players where you are this turn - at the Auctionhouse or the Castle.
The round now enters a second phase; what do the players do at their location. Players at the Auctionhouse can bid on works of art there, or attempt to steal some cash off another player there. Players at the Castle can attempt to exhibit art, thieve art off another player, or attempt to catch a thief in the act!
The players intentions in the second phase are revealed via secretly selecting a card with a number "2" on them and revealing them simultaneously. Then everything is resolved in rock-paper-scissors fashion.
The players at the Auctionhouse can only play cheque or thief cards. Out of the players who played cheques, the highest cheque wins the auction and may select one of two face up art cards there and add it to their hand of art cards. If only one player played a thief, then that player may take the cheque that won the auction. If two or more players play thieves, they interfered with each other and earned nothing.
The players at the castle can only play exhibit, thief or detective cards. Again, these are resolved in a specific order. The players who played exhibits must now compete against each other to present the best exhibit of art cards from their hands. The art cards are divided into six suits, labelled A to F. An exhibit of art must be at least three cards in size, and part of a set in either 'straight', 'of a kind' or a combination of both, to use poker parlance. The largest exhibit allows the player to advance their pawn around the board a number of spaces equal to the label on the leaders space. Second place in the exhibit allows a smaller advance.
Any players that played a thief at the castle may now steal a work of art from each player who exhibited, before their exhibits disappear back into their hands! Naturally, art is taken that increases the strength of their own exhibits. Finally, if any detectives were played, then all played thieves are sent to gaol. There are five spaces in gaol for thieves, which works on a first in, first out basis. Any detectives that catch thieves are allowed to advance their pawns a number of spaces equal to their position in the game.
The game enters a final phase when a player's pawn enters the 'dining room' section of the track. A final exhibit, involving all players, immediately takes place. The winner and runner up advance their pawns 8 and 4 spaces respectively. The player who's pawn that reached the farthest point on the track wins the game.
Adel Verflichtet is a game that is so easy to play, yet hard to put into words. It's an ideal party game for the more cerebral player, and often produces lots of giggles. There are some elements of tactics in the game, but the whole nature of the "1"/"2" card system, revealed simultaneously, promotes self doubts and second guessing of opponents. The better players will win more games, but it's by no means a certainty.
A former Spiel des Jahres winner, fun for family and friends. Recommended.