The Great Dalmuti

  • Designers: Richard Garfield
  • Manufacturer: 1995
  • Players: 4 – 8
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up

We tend to go on rolls with the games we play. We’ll play a game a bunch of times over a month or two and then put it away for weeks on end only to pull it out again and play several weeks in a row. Lately we’ve been playing The Great Dalmuti a lot. It’s quick, fun, a lot of people can play, and there’s no score-keeping involved. Of course, we’ve been playing it as a group since probably about 1995, if that’s not replayability I don’t know what is. (Yes, I know I made up that word, but it fits.)

Here’s the blurb, since it explains the game better than I could.

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….

The deck’s made up of 80 cards, numbers 1 through 12, along with two jesters. The number is not only the cards rank, but also how many of that number are in the deck. Each card also has the picture of a person from a medieval village and their title, like Seamstress, Mason, and Shepherdess, going along with the game’s theme. This is actually the second deck we’ve had. The first one wore out eventually, but at the time it was out of print in America, so our version is German.

I really don’t have anything bad to say about The Great Dalmuti. Each round is quick, but we usually play at least three rounds, sometimes a lot more. You can do a bit of role-playing, making the peons fetch snacks and drinks, and of course the Great Dalmuti gets the best chair, whether that be the most comfy or the one in front of the fan. I think when we were younger, the peons had stupid hats to wear, but we gave that up.

I guess I do have one negative thing. Some nights get pretty late and I don’t really feel like moving from chair to chair if I change positions. Also, you can get stuck in the greater peon position, dealing all the time. I don’t mind, really, but when a slow dealer, like my husband’s brother, is stuck down there it can just be miserable.

It’s a game that fits a lot of requirements for a filler game: more than four people can play, it’s easy to learn, kids as young as 8 can play, and rounds only last about 15 minutes.

We received our deck as a gift and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.


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