Friday, May 23, 2014

Dumbal - the Nepalese Card Game

During my recent trek to Nepal I learned a really fun card game from my Nepalese friends. The game is called Dumbal and pretty much everyone in Nepal knows how to play it. Although the rules are quite simple it's a really fun game to play and we spent hours every day playing it. Especially the fact that the personality of the players comes into it makes it interesting and also because you have to change your strategy as a round gets closer to the end.

The game can be played with 2+ players. It's really good for 4-6.


  • Use a normal deck of 52 cards - no jokers
  • Agree target score, e.g. 200 points
  • Deal each player 5 cards
Leave the rest of the cards on a stack in the middle.


Finish a game by getting the lowest points of all the players in hand.
All cards are worth their face value. A is 1 point, J=11, Q=12, K=13.
You are allowed to finish when you have 5 points or less, but you don't have to. E.g. you can decide not to finish if you have only 4 points and wait until you have even less.


Rounds are played clockwise, the person left from the person dealing the cards starts.

  • You first dispose (openly) of 1 or more cards from your hand by putting them in front of you.
  • If you dispose of more than 1 card they have to be the same rank (e.g. two 9s, 4 Qs) or a sequence of at least three (6,7,8 of the same suit or Q,K,A,2 of the same suit etc).
  • Then you need to pick up 1 card, either by picking from the (openly visible) cards disposed by the player to your right during his/her last round or from the stack of unused cards in the middle.
After disposing and picking up 1 card, the player to the left gets a go.
Note that it can happen that you dispose all the cards in your hand. But this means you still have to pick up a card.

Ending the game

If you have less than 5 points in your hand you can end the game, but you don't have to.
You end the game at the start of your turn by showing everyone your card(s) - note that you will always have at least one card in your hand at the start of a turn.
If you have the lowest hand you win the game and get 0 points. Everyone else gets the amount of points they have in their hand.
If you ended the game and someone else has the same amount or less points you don't win but that person does. You will get your own points plus a penalty of 20 points.
If there is more than one player with less points the lowest wins. In case of a draw the on with the least cards wins.

You can also end the game before the very first round if you have 15 points or less in your hands. Same penalty rule applies if someone else has less than or equal points as you.


Add everyone's scores up on a piece of paper and repeat the game until you've reached the set amount.
The first one to reach the set amount is out and cannot continue playing. The remaining players continue until another person reaches the set amount and so on.
The last one standing is the winner.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Casa Grande - English Rules

This is a fun game and the production quality is great, as you would expect from Ravensburger.
Contrary to what other reviews suggest, you can nicely tidy the whole thing up in the box, we didn't have any problem with that.

We have the German version, that only comes with a German manual but this is not a problem since there is no text on the actual game. We tried a number of variations on the rules but in the end we really like the following variation. I'm describing it here in detail for those who like to try it or those who don't have an English manual. The main deviation from the 'official' manual is that we chose not to play the bonus rules, as we find that they are really just a distraction from the main game...

So here are the rules we play with:

Preparation. Each player starts with all the building blocks of one colour and the associated building floors. Each player uses one marker piece in the same colour and places it in one corner of the playing board, where every player starts in a different corner.

Youngest player starts. The game is played in turns, players take turns clockwise.

Every turn consists of the following:
1. Player throws the dice and moves his or her marker the number of places clockwise as on the dice on the square path on the board. If you finish on a 'sun spot', a corner place, you move your marker the same amount of spaces again.
2. The player must place a building block in one of the 16 places that are visible when looking through a straight line from the place where the marker has landed. The building block may be placed on the bottom layer, on another building block or on a floor that may exist on a higher level. Building blocks may also be placed under where floors might exist on higher levels as long as they can easily be placed there (without removing that higher level floor).
3. Then the player may place a building floor if this is possible given the location of his building blocks in the game. The white rectangles on a building floor must be underpinned with the player's own pieces. Other rectangles on the floor may or may no be underpinned by any pieces, also from other players. The player may only place a building floor if all the rectangles of that floor are directly on a brick or without any piece under it (if they don't have a white rectangle) - however a floor may not be placed directly on another floor, there must always either be a brick or some space in between. The player then receives money to the amount of the number of rectangles multiplied by the height, so 1st level = times 1, 2nd level = times 2 etc.

The game is over when all the building blocks have been placed. When a player places his last brick he may also put a building floor somewhere this turn. All players finish their bricks during the same round. Then the player with the most money wins.
If you're playing with 2 players it's actually quite fun to continue playing with a second colour for each player once the first colour has run out. That way you can make really high buildings, even with 2 players. It makes the game a little bit longer (which we usually appreciate) and is really fun.

The simplicity makes this game very playable and there is a bit of strategy in there too. A pretty good and fun game for anyone over 8 or so.