A majority of the original reviews were submitted by Charles Bahl and Robert Waters...Thanks!!!
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Game: Katzenjammer Blues (Rio Grande Games)
Submitted By: Charles Bahl (The Quake Coast Game Club, San Jose, CA)
The really unfortunate thing about Katzenjammer Blues by Reiner Knizia is its theme (Cat Blues Bands?) and its artwork. It makes it look like this game is strictly for kids (that's why I hadn't bought it earlier), but it really is a clever bidding and card melding game, with plenty of difficult decisions to make along the way. In Katzenjammer Blues you must bid cards from your hand in order to win groups of cards that have been randomly turned up from the draw pile (as in another of Knizia's games, Money), so right off the bat you have to figure out what cards you can afford to give up in your bid in order to acquire those displayed on the table. Sometimes you may not even want the cards on the table, but you bid anyway in order to keep them out of your opponent's hand. Sometimes you may want to acquire the cards in order to meld them and other times you may want them in order to strengthen the bidding position of your hand in future rounds. It's really tempting to meld as soon as possible, but if you do you may find your hand more or less permanently weakened in future bidding rounds. On the other hand there are only 20 points total available to score (the 20 points will get divided among the players) so you are very eager to meld and get your share of the points before somebody else does. In addition, you have to take into consideration the role of jokers. Jokers can be used to increase the size of your bid or to make melding easier, but you have to be careful, because whichever player uses the most jokers during the course of the game gets penalized 5 points when calculating the final score. In general, I was quite satisfied with the game and will definitely be playing it again.