Take 5 & Take A Number – Two Great Card Games from Germany
Many awesome games never make it across the water to the United States, despite being in print for 20 years or more in Germany. Among those classic, well-loved games is the 6 nimmt! series of card games by Amigo Spiel. Now 6 nimmt! is available in the U.S. bundled with one of its spin-offs, X nimmt!, as Take 5 & Take a Number.
Here’s a run-down on how each game plays, as well as some variant rules that can add more replayability and strategy to your Take 5 games.
In Take 5 – originally known as 6 nimmt!, which translates as “6 Takes!” – your goal is to score the least points. There are 104 cards numbered 1 to 104. Every card has at least 1 small bullhead on it, which score against you, while some cards have several bullheads.
Each player gets 10 cards and 4 are dealt face up onto the table to form the start of 4 rows. In each round, players choose a card from their hand and place it face down in from of them. When everyone is ready, players reveal their cards and place them, in ascending numerical order, on the ends of the rows according to two simple rules:
- Ascending Order: You must play your card at the end of a row where your card is higher than the card at the end of the row. That is the numbers in each row must always increase from left to right.
- Least Difference: In the case where your card is higher than the end-card of more than one row, you must play your card after the end-card that is closest in value to your card.
As play progresses, the rows get longer. A row with 5 cards in it is considered full. If your card would be the 6th, you must take the 5 cards in the row – hence the name Take 5. Your card then becomes the new start card for that row. Should you play a card with a number lower than all of the end cards, you must take all of the cards in one of the rows. However, you get to choose which row to take. The cards you take do not go in your hand. Instead, you’ll place them in a Bull Pile in front of you to score as points at the end of the round.
The round continues until players have played all 10 of their cards. Each player then counts the bullheads on the cards they took, scoring 1 point for each. Shuffle the cards, deal 10 to each player and play another round. The game ends at the end of the round in which at least one player’s score reaches 66 points. The player with the lowest score wins the game.
Take 5 plays fast and is deceptively simple. While it may initially seem very luck-based, on repeated plays you’ll discover there is some strategy. It’s not just the pure chaos it at first appears to be, especially when you’re playing with a full compliment of 10 players. Lots of laughter… and groans always ensue when you play Take 5!
6 nimmt! (aka Take 5) Honors
Since its release in 1994, 6 nimmt! has won many awards, including:
- 1994 Deutscher Spiele Preis Best Family/Adult Game Winner
- 1994 Fairplay À la carte Winner
- 1994 Spiel des Jahres Recommended
- 1996 Mensa Select Winner
- 2005 Hra roku Nominee
- 2006 Japan Boardgame Prize Best Japanese Game Nominee
- 2008 Juego del Año Finalist
Take 5 supports 2 to 10 players, ages 8 and up and plays in about 20 minutes. I see no reason younger folks couldn’t play, too. Anyone who can compare numbers can play Take 5.
6 nimmt! aka Take 5, has spun off several other card games including: 11 nimmt!, 6 nimmt! Junior, Hornochsen, Bullenparty, 6 nimmt! Jubiläum and most recently X nimmt!, aka Take a Number. Let’s look at how Take a Number plays, since it now comes bundled with Take 5.
Take a Number
Take a Number plays a lot like Take 5 with a few exceptions:
- Instead of dealing 10 cards to each player, you’ll deal 8 cards.
- There are three Row Number cards – 3, 4 and 5 – which are placed at the beginning of each row to specify how many cards make that row full. So, if for example, you play the third card to the top row, you must take all the cards in that row. Your card becomes the new start card for that row.
- When taking cards, you must play one of the cards in front of you to your # Row. At the beginning of the game, each player receives a # Card to start their personal row. The rest of the cards you took go in your hand.
- Each card you play to your personal # Row must be higher than the last.
- If you should ever be forced to play a lower number, take all of the cards already in your # Row and place them face down to the left of your # Card to form your Bull Pile. The lower numbered card you just played becomes the start card for your personal # Row.
- Play continues until at least one player is out of hand cards.
- Players score 1 point for each bullhead still in their hands and 2 points for each bullhead in their Bull Piles. Bullheads on cards in players’ # Rows do not count against them.
- The game ends after two rounds of play. The player with the lowest score wins the game.
As you can see, Take a Number has a few more opportunities for strategy than Take 5. Take a Number also supports 2 to 10 players, ages 8 and up, and plays in 20 minutes.
Take 5 Variant Rules
A number of variant rules are available for Take 5 to provide even more ways to play.
Take 5 Tactics Variant
You can make Take 5 more complex, by removing any cards higher than 10x + 4, where x is the number of players. So for example, in a 4-player game, you would only use the cards numbered 1 to 44. In a 6-player game, you would use 1 to 64 and put the rest back in the box. All other rules remain unchanged.
The Tactics Variant is clearly more strategic than the basic game because all of the cards in the game are known. That is, all of the cards are either played or in a player’s hand. So if you can keep track of what’s been played, you can choose your plays more strategically.
Take 5 Professional Variant
You can make Take 5 even more complex and unpredictable by allowing cards to be added on both ends of each row. The basic rules still apply, including having to take all of the cards in a row when you play the sixth card to a row. Here are the specifics:
- You may add a card to either the beginning or end of a row.
- The order must always be ascending to the right (end of row) and descending to the left (beginning of row).
- You may not place a card between two cards in a row. You may only place cards at the beginning or end of a row.
- Whenever your card could be added to the beginning of one row on the left or the end of another row on the right, you must place it wherever the difference is smallest.
- Should you ever add the sixth card to a row – on either end – you must take the five cards already in the row. Your card becomes the new start card for that row.
- Players score points for each bullhead on the cards they take, just like in the basic game.
The Take 5 Professional Variant is a lot more complex and unpredictable than the basic game. You really need to watch both ends of each row carefully. It’s an excellent variant for players who want a more challenging game.
Take 5 Draft Variant
In the Take 5 Draft Variant, players choose their own cards. The Draft Variant is actually a variant of the Tactics Variant.
After trimming down the deck according to the number of players, turn all cards face up. Starting with a randomly selected player and proceeding clockwise, each player chooses a card for their hand. Drafting continues until all players have a hand of ten cards. The last four cards are used to start the rows.
All other rules remain unchanged. The Draft Variant is even more strategic than the Tactics Variant. Not only do you know all of the cards in the deck, you also have an idea of who has what. Plus, you have the added decision of which cards to draft to your hand!
I think you could easily apply the Take 5 variants to Take a Number. You could even combine variants for even more fun. Imagine playing Professional Tactics!
Personally, I think Take 5 and Take a Number play better with 3 or more players. Games with 5 or more players can be incredibly chaotic and hilarious. I know the rules say you can play with just two, but I don’t find the 2-player games very interesting. Maybe if you gave each player two hands to play from.
However you play Take 5 or Take a Number, both games are loads of fun! I highly recommend the Take 5 & Take a Number combo.
Copyright © 2020 by Tina G. McDuffie. All rights reserved.
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