Wucherer: 2nd Edition

Designed by Friedemann Friese
Published by Abacus
Reviewed by Stuart Dagger

2-6 players
20 mins

This is a professionally produced reissue of a card game that first appeared five years ago. It was then a self-produced effort by a new designer and had components that Richard Breese, in his review in Sumo 20/21, described as being of Lambourne Games standard. That is not a nice thing to say about any game and so, although Richard had good things to say about the game itself, I decided to pass on it. The new edition has good quality cards and is also about half the price. As we saw with the second edition of El Grande, a big print run makes a hell of a difference to the unit cost.

The game itself is very little altered: the rules are essentially the same, but there are a few extra cards and some minor changes to the cast of tenants. The title, Wucherer, means "profiteer" and the game is a cynical look at life as a landlord. With your cards you build houses, instal tenants and undertake a variety of dirty tricks to boost your profits and lower those of your competitors. The dirty tricks concerned are all either just legal or most definitely not and include evictions, installation of squatters, compulsory demolition orders, bombs and assassins. The last two will often attract the attention of the police, but these are police who are more concerned with clear-up rates than with guilt. They will begin by suspecting the perpetrator, but if he has an alibi they will try somebody else and keep trying until they find someone who doesn't. This person is then sent to jail, a temporary state of affairs, but one that hurts your finances.

The game is fun, provided you enjoy games that are played aggressively; if you sit around just building houses and being nice to each other, you will be bored. All the tactical resources, and there are quite a few, lie in the dirty tricks and so if you ignore this side of the game, the interest disappears. I liked the game but not, I must admit, as much as I thought I would after reading the rules. The problem was that it seemed to end just as it was getting interesting. It is not until you can see who is doing well that you know whom to target and by the time you can see, the deck is well advanced and the game more than half over. However, this could be easily dealt with by turning over the discard pile and playing until that was exhausted, rather than just the original deck. Richard also noted that if you played with the full six players, there weren't really enough cards and I can well believe that. His solution was to buy a second set and at this price you can do that and still have a cheap game.

(Anyone who doesn't have a copy of Sumo 20/21 and who wishes to read the full review that Richard gave the game can do one of two things: either look on the web at The Game Cabinet, whose reprinting of Sumo's back issues has just about reached issue 20, or contact me by email (s.dagger@maths.abdn.ac.uk) and I'll email you a copy.)

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell