Woodworm Thirteen

Review of card game Der Dreizehnte Holzwurm by Pevans

The Thirteenth Woodworm is how Der Dreizehnte Holzwurm translates. Quite what significance the "thirteenth" has I don't know - apart from being the highest value card in the deck. Mind you, the "woodworm" is simply the artwork chosen to decorate this simple card game from Queen that owes something to 6 nimmt!.

The deck contains 11 cards (numbered 1 - 11) in each of 5 suits (blue, yellow, red, green and purple), ten cards (2 - 11) in the 'wild' (grey) suit and the eponymous worm (in black). All odd cards are negative, all even cards positive. To start, five cards are dealt onto the 13 card and then everybody gets a hand (number of cards differs according to the number of players). Each turn you play one card onto the row of its colour - except grey cards, which may be added to any row - or start a new row if none of the colour is down. If the absolute value (i.e. ignoring whether the value is + or -) of the card is greater than the number of cards that were already on the table, all well and good. If not, you have to pick up that row of cards and add it to your hand. You also pick up the top card from the stack on top of the 13 card - always the highest value.

The hand ends when either somebody takes the -13 or someone runs out of cards. Everybody scores the net value of their hand - or +30 for whoever went out.

There are several strategies in this game. You can play low and avoid taking cards in the hope that you still have positive cards left at the end. Get stuck with some low cards and you're scuppered. You can try to work through your hand to get the +20. Again, a low card or two will stop this. Or you can take some early sets to build up your hand so that you can guarantee having cards left when the 13 is taken - and hope the total is worth having.

The game plays reasonably quickly and is quite fun as people suddenly realise they're about to pick a large collection of cards. What I haven't worked out yet is just how much skill counts against luck. This may be another 6 nimmt! that gives you only the illusion of control. Be this as it may, the game makes a decent filler. My only quibble would be that the grey and blue cards look alike under anything but a good, bright light. Final verdict: neat, but not memorable.

Der Dreizehnte Holzwurm was designed by Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling and published (in Germany) by Queen Games. It is for 2-6 players and takes 30-60 minutes to play. Pevans rates it 7/10.
This review was originally published in Games Games Games 136, October 1999.

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