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Game: Kupferkessel Co. (Goldsieber Spiele)
Submitted By: Stan Hilinski
Date: 5/18/2004 6:02:00 PM
Kupferkessel Company is a fast playing, two-player card game designed by Günter Burkhardt and published by Goldsieber. I think it's probably his best design. The game was nominated for a 2002 SDJ and a 2002 Gamer's Choice Award, so it must have done something right. You can knock a game out in about 20 minutes, so it's ideal for that something to play just before you turn in. The odd thing about the game is that you can play it either by putzing along in a half-asleep coma or you can pay attention and plan your moves carefully, and in either case, you will have a grand old time. The one knock I can think of is that it has a memory element, but no one's comments have complained loudly about that, and I won't either.
Kupferkessel Company means the "Copper Kettle Company", and it plays more like a board game than a card game because you don't have a mitt of cards; everything is layed out in front of you. The idea of the game is that you are a wizard or witch, and you are putting ingredients into your pot. The deck of cards consists of 14 different ingredients, each one has four cards numbered 1 to 4. One fun aspect is that the ingredients are unlabelled, so you can call them whatever you want. For example, that jar of black olives could be "eye of newt" or it could just be olives. My favorite diversion is to reach for something that looks like a fungus-covered root and saying "I'm adding Susan's Homemade Brownies to my pot" and then laughing like a maniac.
To begin the game, the deck is shuffled, and then dealt out face up in a six by six grid. Then the corner cards are replaced by special rounded corner cards, and each player is dealt one card to begin his pot. Each player also gets a big honking wooden pawn, which is placed at a designated corner. (These pawns must have been soaked for days in catnip. When I set the game up on my carpet, my cat Annie pounced on the black pawn from out of the shadows, and pawn and cat were two rooms away before I caught up with them. While I was searching for the black pawn, she went back for the white one.)
The idea of the game is to move your pawn clockwise around the perimeter, and when you stop, you must take an ingredient from that row or column, which you put in your pot. You replace the hole with a card from the deck, but when the deck runs out, you leave holes. The number on the top card of your pot tells you how far you move. The game ends when a row or column is empty. Some cards have special symbols that let you move again or remove a card from your opponent's pots, and there are advanced recipe cards that let you earn bonus points. (I find the recipes to be a bit unimaginative.)
Scoring is a minor nuisance because you need some scoring device like money or beads, but you could also put pencil and scrap paper in the box. Your goal is to gather clumps of ingredients and to avoid singletons because singletons count negative. Pairs are worth zero, and anything better counts positive -- a good thing.
You are not supposed to peek into your pot, and that's the memory element. You are expected to remember what's down there, and it can be pretty funny when you do score up and you discover you, or better, your opponent, has lots of singletons. We usually cheat; we are "pot peekers." It adds a smidge more time to the game, but it works just fine this way too. "Kups" is a fun game and one we seem to play a lot.