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The Great Dalmuti - Board Game Box Shot

The Great Dalmuti

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Life isn't fair... and neither is The Great Dalmuti! One round you're at the top of the heap, and the next you're peasant scum in this fast-paced card game of medieval one-upmanship. The players take their places in the pecking order, from Greater Peon to Greater Dalmuti, and try to get rid of the cards in their hands. Next round, everyone's roles could change because the faster you get rid of your cards, the higher you'll go. If you're unseated, you're really unseated: everyone moves around the table each round to take up their new positions. But don't get comfortable in the cushy chair of the Greater Dalmuti, because in a single hand even the lowliest Peon can boot you out the door. Sound unfair? Sure it is! But ah, the sweet taste of victory could make it all worthwhile....

User Reviews (3)

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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
27 of 30 gamers found this helpful
“A classic and casual card game that's good for groups”

Every once in a while one feels a yearning to play the classics. Uno, Battleship, Monopoly (a classic that can take a LONG time)…but there are other classics that are not as well known. Of course, when I say classic, I mean in relative terms; as I write this review, it’s currently the year 2012, and some games are older than others. But I digress. The Great Dalmuti falls into the group of games that occasionally pops up at parties, and someone or other will remark, “Hey, I remember that game!” And at that point, it’s all about nostalgia.

So what is The Great Dalmuti? In short, it’s a card game designed around a pecking order. Each player is assigned a rank based on their play. The person who is the highest in the pecking order after a round of play is called The Greater Dalmuti, and the player who has the least standing is the Greater Peon (more about the order will be explained later). The game itself is comprised of cards not unlike your standard poker deck, except that there are no suits, and the number of cards differs. The value of a card determines how many of that card there are; there is 1 card of value 1, 2 cards of value 2, 3 cards of value 3, all the way up to 12 twelves. In addition, there are two Jesters. They act as wild cards with other cards, or act as a card of value 13 at other times.

The object of each round of play is to get rid of your cards first before your opponents. To do this, players lay down sets of cards from their hand. The person who leads off playing cards must be matched by the other players with cards of lesser numerical value, or else that person will continue to have control and can continue to lay cards until someone can match.

For instance, Player 1 lays down four 10’s. Player 2 happens to have four 11’s, but since 11 is a higher number than 10, Player 2 can’t play their 11’s. Player 2 has no other options, so Player 2 passes. Player 3 happens to have four 9’s in hand, so player 3 plays them to beat Player 1’s hand. If no one can beat player 3’s hand, player 3 will control the next initial play during that round. But as it happens, Player 4 has four 7’s, which are laid down to beat Player 3’s hand. Player 1 happens to still have five 6’s and five 5’s in hand (a rarity, believe me!), and could play four of those five 6’s if they desired. Player 1 could also play four of the five 5’s – either play will take control of the round. Since it is unlikely that any of the players will have four 4’s in hand, Player 1 plays four 6’s and saves the 5’s for later. No one has four 4’s, so Player 1 takes the trick, retains control and can lead off the next hand of play.

In short, Player 1’s four 10’s < Player 3's four 9's < Player 4's four 7's < Player 1's four 6's.

In card expenditure, Player 1 has expended 8 cards, Player 3 and 4 have expended 4, and Player 2 has played none. Player 1 is sitting at a large advantage, where Player 2 is doing the worst.

That explains how the game is played in a nutshell, but where this game is distinctive is the ranks that are assigned. In a game of four players, there are (ranked in order of power) the Greater Dalmuti, Lesser Dalmuti, Lesser Peon, and Greater Peon (in bigger games, there will be Merchants who are ranked between the Lesser Dalmuti and the Lesser Peon). The game actually states that to keep track of who is what rank, players will be seated according to rank, so if someone changes social standing, they will have to relocate from their chair into their newest position.

The Greater Peon is the bottom of the heap, and has to do all the menial tasks. This includes shuffling the cards, dealing the cards, and collecting the cards from everyone after a trick has concluded. In addition, the Greater Dalmuti and Lesser Dalmuti can declare taxation on the Peons; The Greater Peon trades his or her two best cards to the Greater Dalmuti, while the Lesser Peon trades his or her single best card to the Lesser Dalmuti. The exception to this rule is when a player has two Jesters in their hand; they can declare a Revolution, to prevent taxation that turn. If the Greater Peon declares Revolution, it becomes a Greater Revolution, and all the characters switch to their opposite in social standing; Greater Peon becomes Greater Dalmuti, Lesser Peon becomes Lesser Dalmuti, and Merchants swap with Merchants.

The end to this game is indefinite, but from personal experience, a good place to end the game is when two rounds have passed where no one has switched positions or social rank. This usually indicates a stable social order, and further changes are unlikely. However, the game can be decided on a specific number of rounds if so desired. In addition, The Greater Dalmuti (if agreed upon) can order the Greater Peon to do different tasks, like fetch soda or snacks from the kitchen. It's a bit of role-play, but it's all in good fun.

The Great Dalmuti is purely a social game; you rarely come away from this game feeling like you achieved any great victory, even when you come out on top. But this is one of those games that goes a bit beyond the game itself, inviting people to talk to each other or to role play and socialize. At the same time, if you do take the hand of having the Greater Dalmuti order the Greater Peon around, make sure that you do so with people who can appreciate it, and with people who won't take it too far. This game is well-known around the convention circuit, and still sees the light of day for a spot of good-hearted fun.

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Critic - Level 1
Rated 25 Games
28 of 32 gamers found this helpful
“Great for starting gamers”

The Great Dalmuti is a very simple card game that we have discovered to be ideal for new gamers. Its not very demanding on attention and/or memorizing lots of rules. Its plays very well with a large number of players, even with people that have never played a board game… :O (yes, I have friends that have never played a board game).

The theme of the game is also quite simple but appropriate. The art is very nice.

The game system is quite simple but, although luck has certain influence on the outcome of the game, soon you will discover that a good strategy and timing can turn the things around when the cards does not favor you.

Its a nice starter or filler for a game day, but a truly great party game.

PD. We use a house rule that involves Victory Point that makes the game much more interesting, you should look for it in the Tips section of the game.

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4 of 10 gamers found this helpful
“A great game for all ages.”

This game is easy to learn, easy to play, but with a certain depth that allows for great replay ability. I would highly recommend to play with the alternate rules of having multiple chairs of varying comfort, giving the Greater Dalmuti the most comforting, and making the Greater Peon stand. We also play with the Greater Peon must serve drinks to all other players at the beginning of each round. Great party fun.


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