Game Night Blog Carnival: Dutch Blitz

Welcome to the new Game Night Blog Carnival!  This is a new feature Roving Band of Misfits is running once each month with numerous roleplaying game blogs.  Visit their site for more information about the blog carnival initiative.

When I was asked by Roving Band of Misfits to contribute to their Game Night Blog Carnival, the first game I thought of was Dutch Blitz. To be honest, I never heard of or played Dutch Blitz until February of this year while on vacation in Mexico. Our friends brought the game with them and introduced us to the rules. After a few rounds and learning the basics, I was immediately hooked.

I asked my friend, a veteran player of the game, to offer a brief synopsis of why Dutch Blitz is such an enjoyable game to play with friends. He responded with the following:

To me, Dutch Blitz is a fast-paced card game that is easy to start, but hard to quit.  Don’t let the childlike cards fool you, this game is difficult to master and can make even the most experienced player break out in a cold sweat.  Once the basic ground rules are learned it only opens the door to the game’s true complexities which often leaves you asking ” Play again?

I cannot echo the addictive quality of the game nearly enough, and I found myself wanting to play the game even when it was probably a better idea to shift to another activity or go to bed. As I mentioned, I first played the game while on vacation in Mexico. The trip featured a 24-hour flurry of activity including a delayed cruise ship because of thick fog, a scramble to find another destination option, a flight to Mexico and a tense 10 minutes after we got to the resort in Mexico when it wasn’t clear if we had a room or not. Even with that craziness to start the trip, playing Dutch Blitz was one of the more memorable things about the vacation.

Much of the following text is pulled directly from the Dutch Blitz website. However, I have
interspersed their description of the rules with my personal commentary on the
experience of playing the game.

Objective of the Game

Dutch Blitz is a highly interactive, highly energetic, family-friendly card game that will test
your skills, smarts and speed. A player’s goal is to be the first to empty his or her Blitz pile and yell “Blitz” to win the game. The volume and ferocity of a player’s “Blitz” varies, but it’s not unheard of to disturb other guests if you’re playing in a public area at an all-inclusive resort! They recommend the game for ages 8 and up, but I found the game very engaging as a 34 year-old.

Basics

The game consists of four decks of 40 cards each, and can be played by two, three or four persons. I have only played the game with four players, so I cannot comment on the style of play with only two or three players. I believe the pace of the game would slow down since there are fewer people playing cards; the pace and speed of the game really make the game fun. If you have two copies of Dutch Blitz, then you could play two four-player games in a tournament style throughout the night. The top two point earners from each game would combine at the “final table” for the ultimate winner of the night.

The Dutch Blitz Kids.

Each of the four decks has a different design: pump, carriage, pail and plow. Each player chooses one of these deck designs and keeps it for the duration of the  game, regardless of the number of hands played. The faces of these decorative cards are printed in red, blue, yellow and green. The red and blue cards carry a Pennsylvania Dutch Boy illustration. The yellow and green cards carry a Pennsylvania Dutch girl illustration. Each color has cards numbered from 1 to 10. So, each player will get 10 red cards, 10 green cards, 10 blue cards and 10 yellow cards.

Each player builds three basic groups of cards in front of them from which he or she will play the game. The groups of cards placed in position are referred to as the Post, Blitz and Wood piles. The objective of the game is to accumulate points by building as many cards in sequence, 1 through 10, in the same respective colors in the center Dutch Piles using as many cards as possible from the Blitz Pile. The first player to exhaust his Blitz Pile has “Blitzed” his opponents and ended the hand.

The game sounds rather simple with elements of Uno, but the game is sheer madness to play. It forces your mind to work at high-speed as you are attending to a wide variety of information in your own piles as well as the ever-changing Dutch Piles in the middle of the table, which you could consider the “Battlefield” since it is where the action happens. Speed is essential to winning since everyone plays at the same time! Dutch Blitz is a fast-moving, exciting game for everyone at all times – if only the same could be said for D&D 4th Edition combat!

Before moving along further with a description of the rules, I’d like to present an example of the pace of play. I found a few clips on YouTube that illustrate how frenetic the game is when played. This group is rather well-behaved; it’s entirely likely that expletives will be used during play once your group learns the nuisances of the game!

As you can see, each hand is fast. You see players sifting through their own cards and watching what is happening in the center of the table to see what is happening with the Dutch Piles, or “Battlefield.” Each player has to find a sweet spot between watching the ever-changing Battlefield to see if it helps them play cards and managing their own piles to get closer to eliminating their Blitz pile. At every moment of the game, each player is doing the following so that another card may be taken from their Blitz Pile:

  • Placing cards in various Dutch Piles
  • Building
    from their Blitz Pile
  • Building
    from their Wood Pile
  • Building
    from one Post Pile to another

Cards for placement in the Dutch Piles can also be drawn from a player’s Post and Wood piles. Several hands must be played until a total of 75 points is accumulated by any one player, who then wins the game.

Each player is given their set of 40 cards (pump, carriage, pail or plow). One selected player gives the signal to start. Everyone begins and plays at the same time, until the end of the hand. If any of the exposed cards in front of the player is a Number 1 card, regardless of color, it must be placed face up in the center of the table to form the beginning of a Dutch Pile.

Each Number 1 card starts a new Dutch Pile. If a player uses a card from the Post Piles, that card is replaced with the top card of his Blitz Pile. Players should always maintain the original number of Post Piles. When the top card of the Blitz Pile is used, it is not replaced. If any player has a Number 2 card of the same color as the Number 1 card in any of the Dutch Piles, he should place it on top of the Number 1 card, then a Number 3, and a Number 4 card, etc., in an ASCENDING sequence.

If none of a player’s exposed cards can be used in this manner on the Dutch Piles, the player will then count off three cards in his hand. He will turn the three cards in such a manner that the third card will be on top as they are placed face up before him, thus forming the Wood Pile and at the same time, creating a fifth exposed card, that can be played onto the Dutch Piles, if possible. The top card of the Wood Pile may be used for any play at any time.

A Number 1 card always starts a new Dutch Pile. If no further play can be made, the player will count off three more cards from his hand, and turn them face up onto the remaining cards (if there are any remaining) on his Wood Pile. Thus a player may play any of his exposed cards onto any of the Dutch Piles in the center of the table, provided he plays the card onto the same color and in an ASCENDING sequence.

When all of the cards in a player’s hand have been turned over, he will pick up cards in his Wood Pile. Without shuffling, he will turn them face down in his hand and again proceed to count off three, and turn them over again to build up the Wood Pile. If a player desires, he may build from his Blitz Pile, Wood Pile or from any one of his Post Piles, onto any other of his Post Piles.

And just to make things a bit more frantic, you can also build up each of your Post Piles in the following manner. Numbers in the Post Piles must follow a DESCENDING sequence—for instance, seven on an eight, six on a seven, etc. In addition, the cards must ALTERNATE boy-girl or girl-boy. Both the number and the color must be visible at all times to all players when building a DESCENDING sequence onto the base card in a Post Pile. This means that at the same time everything is happening on the Battlefield, a player can partake in their own personal game of Solitaire as long as the cards alternate boy and girl. I did not even realize this was an option for the first few games because paying attention to everything else was already too much to comprehend in the beginning.

However, once you get the basics down and learn how the Solitaire in the Post Piles can
help you, your brain starts to weave a symphony of magic. The game slows down and you see two, three, four or more moves ahead of you. You begin to play cards at a blazing pace, but the extra awareness of the game and how it’s played also results in increased drama.

You’ll think things like, “I just need a single Red 5 to make four more moves to win the game. Someone throw a Red 5!” You’ll start to pay attention not only to your cards, but all of your opponents’ as well. It’s not unheard of to tell another player, “Dude, play your Green 7.” You are helping your opponent in a way when you do this, but it’s a selfish maneuver because then you can player your Green 8, which frees up your Blue 6 to be played on the Blue 5 Dutch Pile, and so on.

You will have Wild West-like quick draws as you and another player attempt to play the same card at the same time. Imagine you both have a Yellow 5 and someone just threw down a Yellow 4. You both see the Yellow 4 and reach for your Yellow 5. Only one of you is going to lay the Yellow 5 down in time, while the other player is screwed and has to wait for another Yellow pile to be built up to 4 so they can play their 5. Games are won and lost in these moments! Fractions of a second can decide your fate, and card-on-card violence is known to happen!

After each hand, the cards in the Dutch Piles are counted. Each player receives 1 point for each card they played in the Dutch piles. However, you lose 2 points for each card you have left in your Blitz pile. If you win the hand, then you cleared your Blitz pile first, meaning you get all of the Dutch pile points without penalty. Everyone else will get their Dutch pile points but will lose points for remaining Blitz cards. The first to reach 75 points wins. Reaching 75 points could theoretically be accomplished in just two hands, but it typically takes many more hands than that to accomplish. I have scored as many as 34
points in one round and as few as -12, so you can experience wild swings during the course of a game.

Conclusion

Buy Dutch Blitz. The game is a great time, and it can be played casually for fun or as a quite intense competition. It mixes elements of games like Uno and Solitaire to bring a unique playing experience to any cohesive gaming group. You will not be disappointed playing Dutch Blitz, whether it is for a few hands or a few hours. And trust me, you’ll want to keep asking your friends, “Play again?”

Continue reading the Game Night Blog Carnival at Undergopher Central and learn about Conquest of Planet Earth.

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About The Id DM

The Id DM is a psychologist during the weekdays. He DMs for a group of fairly loyal and responsible PCs every other Friday night. In the approximate 330 hours between sessions, he is likely anxious about how to ensure the next game he runs doesn't suck.
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5 Responses to Game Night Blog Carnival: Dutch Blitz

  1. Morgoth says:

    – I fireball the DM!…. & the Dutch!!

  2. Lou says:

    Was given the game Dutch Blitz 6 years ago in Kansas (Amish town) on holiday and on return to Australia could never work it out. During a clean out on Friday I came across them and decided to try it and found your very helpful information – thank you. Saturday afernoon 4 of us – 2 adults and 2 daughters 12, & 15 decided to give it a go. Wow, the afternoon disappeared – what have we been missing out on!! Great game, thank goodness its school holidays now, guess what we will be doing. Thank you

    • The Id DM says:

      Excellent!! Yes, my wife and I enjoy playing Dutch Blitz with our friends that introduced us to the game. It is very addictive. The game certainly has a learning curve but it’s a great feeling when you feel “in a zone” with the moves needed to win the game and get to shout, “BLITZ!”

  3. Pingback: Recipe #31: Cherry Clafouti « The Sisterhood of the Sizzling Pans

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