Lately our trips to Goodwill have been complete busts. We’re passing on quite a few things we’d love to own because they are overpriced. We’ve also seen several fun classic games we already own, so there’s no need to buy another copy. It wasn’t all bad luck. We did manage to score a card game published only in Germany in the late 90’s – Spekulatius.
Ravenburger’s Spekulatius is a variant of the classic trick-taking game Oh Hell!. The deck consists of four suits with cards in each suit numbered 1-20 and four jokers. In each round of the game, players are dealt a certain number of cards depending on the round. For a typical game this starts at ten cards for the first round and one fewer each successive round. After the tenth round when players only receive one card, each round thereafter players receive one more card per round until the nineteenth round where players again receive ten. The number to deal is noted on the score sheet.
In each round, a card is turned up from the deck to show what suit is trump and players must speculate how many tricks they will take in the round, which is recorded on the included score sheet. Players must follow suit of the lead card when possible and can play off or trump when they don’t possess the lead suit. The player who played the highest on-suit card or trump wins the trick and leads the next trick.
Spekulatius utilizes jokers, which have a special ability. They can always be played, and when the player plays a Joker, he or she announces whether it is “top” (which means it is the best card that can be played), or “flop” (which means it doesn’t affect the trick). When more than one player plays a Joker in a round, the last-played Joker is controlling, meaning it would “top” a previously played “top” joker.
At the end of the round, players score points based on how many tricks they took, one point per trick. Players that successfully predicted their bid receive a ten-point bonus to their score. The game is played over nineteen rounds (or ten for a short game), and the player with the highest score total is the winner.
The game lists that it is playable up to eleven people, but the deck of cards only has eighty-four in it. The rules suggest that with more people players use the same progression of hands with fewer cards per player (e.g., thirteen rounds with eleven players, progressing 7-6-5 . . . 5-6-7).
You won’t find Spekulatius on Amazon and rarely on eBay. We do suggest having a copy of Oh Hell! in your collection since it’s a classic which has been around since the 1930’s. If you find either for a couple bucks, grab it. You won’t regret this one!
Have you ever played Oh Hell! or one of the variations like Spekulatius?