6 nimmt! is a short simultaneous-action card game by Wolfgang Kramer. Wolfgang Kramer is considered one of the top designers of Germany. His most influential game is El Grande, a political control Eurogame that popularized the use of wooden cubes. However, in interviews, Kramer has said that he considers his magnum opus to be 6 nimmt!. 6 nimmt! has been published in multiple editions by multiple publishers around the world and the current English edition is called Slide 5.
The goal of the game is to have the fewest negative points or Cattle Heads. Each card has negative points and you try to avoid taking cards. There are are 104 cards numbered from 1 to 104. Cards are shuffled and ten are dealt to each player with the top four cards taken to start four rows of cards. Each player then plays one card from his or her hand, and the lowest card is added to one of the rows; other cards follow in sequential order and this process is repeated until all ten cards have been played.
Cards are added to the rows via these rules:
- Ascending Order--the added card must be higher than highest in the row
- Small Difference--card must be added to the row with the smallest difference in value
- Full Row--5 cards make a full row. The player who places the 6th card in a row takes the five cards and her card starts the new row.
- Lowest Card--if player card is lower than the lowest card in any row, then he must pick up all the cards of a row of his choice and the low card starts the new row.
Most cards have one negative point, while some have two, three, and five negative points, and one card has seven negative points. At the end of the 10th card play, players count the negative points (Cattle Heads) and the player with the lowest score is the winner.
What intrigues me the most about 6 nimmt! is the question of whether it is game of strategy or pure luck. Tournaments have shown that a simultaneous-action game like Rock-Paper-Scissors is a game of skill, but you only have three options. On your first turn in 6 nimmt!, there are four row cards on the table and ten in each player's hand. Thus you can expect ninety different potential card play by others. How does one predict that many variables? Give it a try via the Java AI implementation and see what you think. Is 6 nimmt!, a game of pure randomness or strategy?