Flinke Pinke

Also published, with finer components, as Quandary
A card game for 2-5 players by Reiner Knizia from Amigo Spiele, Germany
These comments copyright 1999 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated June 20, 1999

Flinke Pinke is the poor man's version of Quandary. Instead of the fancy tiles and board of the latter, Flinke Pinke uses cards and small poker-style chips, and skips the board altogether. For one quarter the price, it's a better deal, unless you absolutely must have fine components in your games ...

The game is very quick - one round per player in the game, and a round takes only five to ten minutes. Yet there's a lot of room for tactical play here. There is no theme at all - it's quite abstract - but it doesn't have the heaviness that some abstract games have. It's a very light game in the good sense of the word.

The components are simple: there are five betting chips of each of five different colors. In addition, there are 30 cards - the 0 through 5 of each of those colors. That's all the components, but it's a good little game nonetheless.

Determine a starting player. The cards are shuffled, and some cards are removed if playing with fewer than five players. (See footnote.) The rest are dealt out evenly to all the players. The betting chips are stacked by color in the center of the table, and the game is ready to start.

On your turn, you play a card then take a chip. Cards are played to five piles, a pile consisting of only cards of one color. If I start with a red "1", for example, and you want to play a red card, you must (partially) cover up the red "1" on your play - there is only one pile per color, but you should be able to see which numbers have been played already. Only the top card shows the value of the color, however.

The chip you take doesn't have to match the color of the card you played, but it may. The chips are bets - when you take a chip, you're betting that that color will have a high number showing at the end of the game. Bets are public knowledge, and you must keep your chips in view at all times.

The round ends when all six cards of one color have been played. When that happens, everyone figures their score for the round. A score for a given color is the number of chips of that color you have, times the value of the top card of that color pile, which will range from 0 to 5. Your score for the round is your total for all betting chips you have, plus two points if anyone has more betting chips than you (i.e., had one more turn than you). Record the scores, and continue playing until each player has been first player once - highest overall total at that point wins the game.

The game plays quickly but creates some interesting decisions. Unfortunately, in this game most of your decisions look bad! If you play the fifth card on a pile, you're giving someone else the chance to end the round by playing the sixth card - and that sixth card might not be what you want to see as a final card for that color. On the other hand, you may not want to play on a different color because you'll either be lowering your own score or raising an opponent's.

There's also agony in choosing chips - you can only take one per turn, and though you may have your eye on red, everyone else seems to think green is the color of choice - so do you take that last green chip instead of your first choice? Do they really know something you don't? Or could you skip the green and try to make sure it's worth 0 points at the end of the game, thus hurting all your opponents at once? It's a tough choice - with everyone else rooting for green, the odds of you hurting it are actually poor - unless you have the right cards, of course ... But what does that mean? Having the "0" and "1" in a given color can be very potent - but not if they're covered up. And so on -the choices are usually tough in this game, both for chip play and card play.

But tough in the good sense - it's a game of skill, bluff and a little luck. I like the game a lot, and I'm not a big Knizia fan. I only like about half a dozen of his games, but this is one of them.

(Footnote: at least one English rules translation on the net leaves this step out. Here it is:

  • If playing with two players, remove the "5" value cards.
  • With two or three players, shuffle the cards, set aside three cards without looking at them, and deal the rest out evenly to all the players.
  • With four players, shuffle the cards, set aside two cards without looking at them, and deal the rest out evenly to all the players.)

Other games by this designer I've reviewed are:

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