Hol's der Geier is a quick little filler game of bluff and
skill. Very simple in its components and concept, there's still a lot
of little game here.
The game has fifteen animal cards: five Vulture cards ranging in value
from -1 to -5, and ten Mouse cards ranging in value from +1 to +10.
Each player also has his/her own deck of fifteen cards, ranging in
value from 1 to 15.
Everyone starts with all fifteen of their own cards. The animal card
deck is shuffled and placed face down in the center of the table. The
top animal card is turned face up and the game begins.
The object of the game is to have the highest score at the end of a
specified number of rounds - one round if you're pressed for time, but
three rounds is a better game and only takes about half an hour. Each
Mouse card you win counts its point value for you, and each Vulture
card you take counts against you. Since everyone knows the range of
animal cards (-5 to +10), and everyone starts with the same hand, it's
a game of skill.
Once the first animal card is turned face up, players decide which of
their own cards to play. You choose one card and play it face down in
front of you. When all players have chosen a card, they are revealed.
If the animal card in question is a Mouse, the highest player card
played wins the trick. If the animal card is a Vulture, the lowest
player card played wins the trick. So your high cards are always
good: you can win positive points and avoid negative points with
Once the winner is determined and has collected the animal cards, the
player cards that were used that round are removed from the game, the
next animal card is turned over, and the players choose a card to play
from their remaining hand. Continue in this vein until all fifteen
cards have been played, and the round is over. Count up your Mice,
subtract your Vultures, and record the score if playing more
That's basically the game - it's very simple in concept. There are
only a few special rules. For example, if two or more players tie for
high card when trying to win a Mouse, the next highest card played
wins the trick. Likewise, if two or more players tie for lowest card
when trying to avoid a Vulture, the next lowest takes the trick. And
finally, if all cards played are matched, the played cards are
discarded, a second animal is added to the trick, and another round
takes both cards.
For such a simple, quick game, it actually has lots of bluff and
strategy opportunities. When the 10 Mouse comes up, for example, you
can be pretty sure that high cards will be chosen. But if you choose
your highest card, a 15, you may not win it - there may easily be
another 15 chosen, and the next highest card played will win. So you
think about playing your 14 instead, hoping two other players will
play the 15, and you'll have the only 14. But what if someone else
decides the same thing? And so on - lots of agonizing "What will they
do?" decisions to make. The more you play, and the more you play with
specific opponents, the better the game becomes. In this sense, it's
related to poker: it's not so much the card you play as what you
project to the other players you're playing, if that makes any sense
At any rate, if you like bluffing and outwitting games, this is a
quick, fun one.
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