Base Game Review
Play Time (Box): 15mins
Play Time (Goof): 30mins
Producer/s: Dutch Blitz Game Company
Designer/s: Werner Ernst George Muller
Cards on the table (self-high-five for the pun), I would never have bought Dutch Blitz. In fact when Gateway to Games suggested sending it to me I told them it wasn’t my sort of thing. Real time solitaire with a corny dutch theme? Ick.
DON’T CLICK AWAY JUST YET. Turns out I was wrong.
My thoughts turned to all those times playing solitaire on my Grandmother’s computer as a child. When she wouldn’t let me install real games like Putt Putt Travels Through Time, or TIE Fighter, because she was convinced they would give her computer viruses. And I just couldn’t wrap my head around how this game could be made fun.
Charli and I sat down to give Dutch Blitz a go, ever the faithful reviewer which I am. And surprisingly enough, we had an absolute blitz (self-high-five). It was really Goot! (Don’t get a high five there, stole it from the box).
Let me tell you why.
Dutch Blitz is a strange beast. If you were to watch a group of people playing, it’s the quietest game I think I’ve ever seen. But when you’re playing, you feel this loud intensity wash over you. Because Dutch Blitz is real time, and each round only takes five minutes tops, you are fully focused to what’s going on.
The rules are incredibly simple, which means despite all the rush to get your cards into the middle of the table and score points, you’re not making mistakes which in other games would constitute cheating or an invalid play.
The simple rules also give you about three overarching things to keep a track of. The cards in your area, making sure the cards are in “boy girl order”, and which cards are in the middle of the table. Keeping you focused on these core tasks, with a clear skill factor, makes the gameplay smooth and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
There is a skill element to Dutch Blitz. A more experienced player will usually win, and even if there’s a round where the skilled player doesn’t do as well (due to the way the cards fell or simply a brain fart), the fact the game is played over five or so rounds balances the luck element out. The more we play, the more our final scores are nail-biting.
The way you score Dutch Blitz actually opens up some interesting competitive decisions. For example, the piles you maintain in front of you are arguably easier to move cards to and play with than getting the cards to the middle of the table. But you only score points for those cards which are in the middle. You actually double your leftover blitz pile at the end of the round and subtract the number from your points scored in the middle. So do you clear your Blitz pile as quickly as possible, potentially subtracting points from your opponents and scoring less yourself, or do you try to score as many points as possible during the round. Depending on the moves you’re seeing on your board state, and where the current points are sitting, you might have to make a quick change in your goal. Because once you start stacking the piles in front of you, you’ve then got to unravel them in order to score. Too many rounds has the one card I’ve needed been trapped under another card or two from an earlier ill-advised decision I’ve made. Dutch Blitz is about seeking out those opportunities, and when there’s not a clear answer, moving cards around to create one. And personally I love it.
Pros: +Intensity, +Speed, +Simple, +Skill, +Scoring
At its core, Dutch Blitz is what you’d call “themeless”. Sure it’s got pictures, and the box makes worse puns than I do. But you could swap those pictures out for literally anything else and it would offer exactly as much.
Where normally I’d have issues with a game lacking theme, I really feel in Dutch Blitz a theme may have been too intrusive. It would have slowed play down, and as much as I love my immersion, I can’t imagine trying to suspend reality and put myself in another world while I’ve got so much to accomplish so fast.
The Rulebook to the game is really clear about what the designers were aiming for – a game full of speed and intensity. And they pulled it the hell off. There’s been a lot of times where two players are looking at the same opportunity, hands go flying trying to get their card to the pile first. Honestly I’m surprised we haven’t damaged anything (yet).
Pros: +No intrusive theme, +Designed to be fast and intense
So what I needed from Dutch Blitz were distinct colours and icons which weren’t too intrusive and functioned seamlessly to allow smooth and fast gameplay. Unfortunately I did not get it.
While it can be argued the colours are quite distinct, looking at them intently as you do, with as vibrant as they are, is a recipe for headaches. And the boy/girl icons which are supposed to distinguish the two types of cards are in no way clear enough. I hear this from literally everyone I’ve played the game with, so it’s not an issue with my own perceptions (I did give it some consideration).
Now technically, you could play Dutch Blitz with a traditional deck of playing cards (everyone would need their own deck and you’d have to remove the Jacks, Queens, and Kings). The boys could be black and the girls red (or however you wanted to work it). But to be honest, I think a regular deck of cards would provide even less distinction which would slow the whole thing down. For Dutch Blitz to be everything it should be, it needs to be fast. And buying a copy will only set you back just over $20AUD. Which is going to be cheaper than purchasing four packs of traditional playing cards.
I guess what disappoints me here the most is the components of the game are four lots of forty cards, just with different card backs. And each of those decks are split into four colours, which count from 1 to 10. It’s not like they had a huge variety of components to focus on and yet there is still huge room for improvement with the iconography. Which you have to call a disappointment when the game really only has two different key unique icons.
I understand there is an art to writing Rulebooks. But there should be a Darwin Award equivalent to writing bad ones. We read through the rules, watched several YouTube videos and still played our first game wrong. And it’s not because the rules are complex, they’re so simple they take about five minutes tops to teach. I know it’s possible to put this down to user error, but we at TGR play A LOT of games. And even though the rules here are a fresh take on a classic card game, it still needs to be clear how to go about accomplishing your goal.
I feel like I’ve been negative in this section, especially about a game I claim to love. So let me throw in a few positives at the end here. The colours are unique to the point where I’ve never seen anyone getting them confused. And although the cards have taken quite a beating from the speed of play, but there’s no discernible marks or damage having been done to them.
Pros: +Unique Easily Discernable Colours, +Easier and Simpler than a Traditional set of cards, +Component Quality
Cons: –Non-distinct Iconography, -Horrible Rulebook, -Headache Inducing Vibrancy
Dutch Blitz is a story about not judging a game by its cover. And even when you think you know what you’re in for, giving the game a chance and letting yourself have fun with it. I’ll humbly admit when I’m wrong. I wasn’t looking forward to playing this game, and I certainly wasn’t looking forward to reviewing it. What I’ve learnt is as much as I think I know about board gaming, this wonderful hobby of ours continues to have hidden gems which are an absolute blast.
I give Dutch Blitz:
Another big thank you to Gateway to Games, for introducing me to another fantastic game. I look forward to seeing what you get me hooked on next.
Gateway to Games are offering readers of TGR 5% off at checkout if you use the promo code GOOF5. So check them out HERE.
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