Over time we have dabbled in a few Euros, but given the one hour limit we generally end up with card games. The different numbers of players means either switching games or playing a variant. Our recent games have been:
Gang of Four - officially 3-4, we have played 3-5 (6 once)
6 Nimmt! - officially 2-10, we have played 3-7
Tichu - officially 4 or 6, we have played 4-6
Rage - officially 2-10, we have played 3-7
500 - officially 2-6, we have only played 5 so far.
Obviously 6 Nimmt! and Rage are the best for variable numbers, but they are not always available or we may prefer something else given the number of players, e.g. Tichu if we have four. On occasions, due to which ever particular game was actually available, we have had to come up with a variant or two to match the game with the number of players we have. Here are most of the ones we have come up with:
Gang of Four
Three player - Our preferred option is the official one. Deal four hands and if nobody has the student start card, the dealer swaps hands with the unused hand. The more chaotic, and less popular, option is the Jules variant. The cards are dealt out as three hands with the final card being discarded face up so all players are aware of what it is. This leads to very big and somewhat chaotic hands, although there are more gangs of four.
Five player - Rotating sitout each hand. The dealer deals four hands and sits out. The student card is the start card for every hand (as the previous hand's winner may be sitting out). Otherwise play proceeds as normal for four player. The sitout is rotated around the table and the player sitting out scores zero for the hand sat out.
Six player - Deal out the cards as six hands. This is actually uneven and since we only played it one day I have forgotten what we did with the short or extra cards. The hands were basically too small and thus play was very chaotic. We haven't tried this variant again and it does not come recommended.
- Highest score at end of game - 178 points (one off the mathematical maximum)
- Shortest game - 2 hands
- Longest game - 21 hands
No variants required. We play with the full deck.
- Highest individual score for one hand - 53 points
- Highest end of game score - 105 points
Five player - Play standard four player with one person sitting out. Scoring is kept for individuals as partnerships will probably change over the game, so the full points for the hand are allocated to each individual in the partnership for every hand. The last player for the hand sits out the next hand and swaps out with the player who is currently sitting out. This means that in the case of a one-two result the losing partnership needs to play out the rest of the hand to determine who will be sitting out the next hand.
Six player - We read the rules and were somewhat confused by the six player stuff. We play two partnerships of three. You pass only two cards, one to each of your partners. There is no one-two finish, but a one-two-three will score 300 points, although this has only happened once so far.
- Stupidest Tichu call - When a partnerships was on 970 points and at least two hundred ahead of the other partnership. The Tichu was not made.
- Most unfortunate Tichu call - - The hand had been going for a while. I was down to five cards and lead the bamboo which was the first single lead for the hand. Play progressed around until the player on my left played his first card and called Tichu. Looking at his hand later, it was pretty much a lay down win except for the fact that I had the Dragon and three aces as my remaining four cards. He called Tichu and I dropped the Dragon on his single and then the trio of aces. A Tichu call shot down in flames within two seconds of it being announced.
We have only played this once and that was yesterday. It will probably only get played with five, as four or six players are generally going to be reserved for Tichu, unless 500 really takes off anyway!
I grew up playing 500 with my grandmother. Nobody else at home really played games, so we played three handed with a dummy hand. I also played it a bit at school, but also either three player or four players as individuals. I probably haven't played it since school and I never played 500 as a partnership game before. In 500, after winning the bidding you may call for a partner by nominating a specific non-trump card. It is going to take me a little while to get used to the difference of five players and also having a partner, who should guarantee you one or more tricks depending on whether you have a void or not. I am still bidding on what is my hand, as opposed to factoring in the potential trick(s) from a partner.
Daughter the Elder update
Either I am getting worse at games or she is improving - I believe it is definitely the latter. Before bedtime tonight we played a game of San Juan followed by a game of Chess. We were tied for points in San Juan and she won on the tie breaker having both goods and cards in hand where as I had nothing but a single card in my hand. In Chess it came down to a stalemate - I had a king and she had her king and a knight.