Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman)

For 3 - 6 Players from 12 years.

The Saga of the Flying Dutchman

Several hundred years ago there lived a Dutch sea captain of fearsome temperament. With his ship he sailed through the stormiest seas, and fared the hardest routes. One day however, despite all his efforts, a storm prevented him from rounding the steep cliffs of a headland. He swore to the Devil that he would never give in to Nature, and that he would sail on until he rounded the headland, even if it took him till Judgment Day. The Devil took the Captain at his word and dammed him, that he must stay as captain of his ship, now a ghostship, sailing the seas, until Judgment Day should come. The Devil left him just one small hope. Only through the love of a woman could he be released.

So, the Flying Dutchman became the curse of the seas. Any ship that met him became a ship of ill fortune. No sailor would sail on her, any trader would refuse to deal in it's wares. In order to protect themselves against an encounter with the ghost ship, ships took to nailing horseshoes to their masts, which was said to bring luck, and prevent an unhappy meeting.

In the game, we are in the year 1729. You are a seemingly trusty salesman and member of a ship exchange. You aren't tremendously rich, but you have a little money to invest. You are trying to make something of this money, to invest in something good. So you acquire three shares in ships and their cargoes. The ships trade across the oceans, but dangers lie everywhere, Storms and Pirates are everywhere, threatening your ships. But the greatest danger of all is the chance that your ships may meet up with the Flying Dutchman, a ghost ship, which casts it's spell over all that encounter it. If one of your ships should meet the Dutchman, ill fortune will overtake it. Your fortune will disappear, the ship's value drops to nil. So take care you brave traders. Take shares in the right ships, and always keep a few horseshoes by you, they will bring you luck.



The game board is put into the centre of the table. The black ship is placed onto the island "Holland". Each player receives 25 ducats, 2 10s and 5 1s. The rest of the ducats are placed to one side and form the bank.

The Share Cards

There are 5 cards in the colour of each ship. 30 in total. The number used in the game is dependent on the number of players. All 6 ships colours are used in every game. In each colour, you use one less card than there are players.


With 5 players one uses 4 cards per colour, 24 in total, the remaining 6 cards are replaced in the box. The cards used are shuffled and three dealt face down to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down on the exchange card space (KONTOR),


With 4 players there are 18 cards in play. 12 cards are dealt to the players (4 * 3). The remaining 6 cards are placed face down on the Kontor space. The 6 coloured place markers are placed onto the chest marked "2" as is the black stone.


The place markers show the value of the ship of that colour. as shown by the number on the chest. At the start of the game therefore all the ships are worth 2. Every time that the Flying Dutchman encounters a ship, the black stone is moved up one chest. Each player receives a horseshoe rack. The horseshoes are well shuffled and each player receives 9. These should be placed on the rack, taking care that they are not seen by the opposition. Now the same number of horseshoes are placed face down in the centre of the board as there are players. Any remaining horseshoes are replaced in the box and play no further part in the game.


With 5 players, each receives 9 horseshoes making 45. 5 are placed in the centre of the board and the remaining 10 go back into the box.

Each player takes 3 Smith cards (SCHMIED), and 3 Exchange cards (KONTOR).

The Idea of the Game

At the start of the game, each player owns a share in three ships, represented by the three share cards which he holds. Every turn, the Flying Dutchman is moved once, either to an island or to a ship. If the Dutchman moves onto a ship, then all the players with a share in that ship lose money. The value of their share sinks to zero and they lose cash. If a player wants to avoid this fate, he has to change the course of the Dutchman by using some horseshoes to match the lucky number for the round. The other possible way of avoiding losses due to the Dutchman is to use an exchange (Kontor) card to change the shares in threatened ships to shares in safer ones. At the end of the game, the richest player wins. His riches are made up of the ducats he has in hand plus the worth of his three shares. The value of the shares changes during the game, it may rise or fall. You have to keep a sharp eye on the game right up to the end. Even in the last round, an encounter with the Dutchman can be ruinous. It is best to be careful with your cards, The player who throws away all his cards in the first few rounds loses all chance to control the game.

The Course of the Game

The game is played in rounds. The starting player is chosen by all the players. He takes the two dice and begins the game. Once the first round is over the player to the left of the first starter becomes the start player for the second round and so on. Threw game plays at the end of the round during which the black marker reaches the chest marked 18.

The course of a Round of Play

A) Choose the lucky number: The start player rolls both dice and adds the two scores to determine the lucky number for the round.

B) Each player chooses from one of the three possible plays. The start player chooses first, then each player in order chooses one of the following three choices.

Exchange up to two share cards
A player who plays one of his exchange cards, (Kontor) face up in front of him, takes two of the share cards from the pile on the exchange (Kontor) space. he may then examine the 5 cards now in his hand, and must then replace two of them face down onto the bottom of the pile of cards on the exchange (Kontor) space. The exchange (Kontor) card is discarded onto the discard pile and plays no further part in the game.

Get new horseshoes
The player lays a Smith (Schmied) card face up in front of him. He then waits until all the other players have chosen their action for the round. If only one player has played a Smith card then that player takes all the horseshoes lying in the centre of the board. If more than one player plays a smith card in a round, then the players share the horseshoes between them. Any horseshoes that cannot be evenly divided stay in the middle of the board. The smith card is placed on the discard pile and plays no part in the rest of the game.

Attempt to move the Flying Dutchman
A player who wishes to influence the course of the Flying Dutchman lays horseshoes face down in front of them. The players must attempt to make up the lucky number, or to come as close to it as possible. A player may only play one golden horseshoe per turn but as many silver ones as he wishes. The scores on the silver horseshoes may be added to or subtracted from the score on the golden shoe. Any score higher than the lucky number is useless, and counts for nothing. Scores below the lucky number are allowed.

Only players with less than five horseshoes may pass, that is do nothing.

C) Moving the Flying Dutchman. All players who have played horseshoe face down now turn them over. It is important that all the players who have played exchange cards (Kontor), have already changed their share cards before the horseshoes are turned over. A player who has matched the lucky number with their horseshoes, or if no one has achieved that, the player who comes closest to it, decides which neighbouring ship or island the Dutchman next visits. The only restriction is that the ship may not be moved back to the island or ship from whence it has come. the horseshoes played by the players are placed face down into the centre of the board. They form the stockpile for the next round.

Special Cases, deciding round

If two or more players have matched the lucky number, or come equally close to it, then they must decide together where the Dutchman is to go. Each in turn states his preferred destination for the ship. If they are all unanimous, then there is no problem and the ship is moved as agreed. If however they have different destinations in mind, then they can bargain. It is permitted that money changes hands in this phase, in order to gain agreement. If there is still no unanimity (majority decisions are not allowed), the players have to play a decider round. Each player in turn lays down horseshoes from their remaining stock, face down in front of them. They are turned over simultaneously and the player who has matched the lucky number, or come closest to it chooses the destination. If there is still deadlock, then the process is repeated until there is a winner. Players may choose to pass during a decider round. In the unlikely case that no player can play or all players pass, the players roll a die and the highest score chooses the destination for the Dutchman.

Example Round

The lucky number for the round is 31. Karin is the start player. she plays an exchange (Kontor) card. She takes two cards from the kontor space and puts two back onto the bottom of the pile. Helga and Anne each play a smith card. Karl, Klaus and Reiner each put down some horseshoes in front of them. Helga and Anne split the horseshoes from the middle of the board between them. Karl, Klaus and Reiner turn over their horseshoes. Klaus and Reiner match the lucky number 31. Karl can only get to 30 and so he is out of it. Reiner now declares a wish for the Dutchman to move onto an island. Klaus wants it on the blue ship. They cannot agree a common destination so they each place some more horseshoes in front of them. The horseshoes from the first round are put into the centre of the board. This time Reiner makes 27 and Klaus 29. Klaus is closer to the lucky number and so chooses the destination of the ship.

After the Dutchman Has Moved

Once the Flying Dutchman has been moved onto a new neighbouring field, the following actions are carried out. If the Dutchman has been moved onto a ship then all players with a share card of that colour must show it. If necessary, the cards on the exchange space may be examined to check that no card has been "forgotten". Afterwards the pile is well shuffled and replaced on the exchange space. For each share card so exposed, the player must pay the value, as shown by the number on the chest on which the matching marker stands, into the bank. Then the player takes back the share card into his hand. The marker for the ship is now moved back to the first chest, that with no value on it. Finally, all markers, including the one for the newly affected ship, plus the black marker, are moved onto a chest one value higher than the one on which they stand. If a player is unable to meet his debts, then he is bankrupt and is eliminated from the game. If the Dutchman is moved onto an island field, then all the players who agreed to the move may turn over one of their share cards. They then take so many ducats from the bank, as their share is worth, ie the number on the chest on which the relevant marker stone stands. then they replace the share card into their hand. If the Dutchman is moved to an island, then no marker stones are moved.

Game End

The game ends at the end of the round on which the black marker moves onto the chest marked 18. Each player now turns over his share cards and adds their value, as shown by the marker stones, to their cash in hand. The richest player wins.

Translated by John Webley.

Distributed by Mike SIggins from The Sumo Rules Bank

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell