Mit List und Tücke has been revived by the card game publisher Berliner Spielkarten (a Ravensburger label) for the 1999 Nürnberg Fair from the earlier game, Palle, which apparently failed due to being limited to just four players. Both were designed by Klaus Palesch who was also responsible for the card games Sticheln (1993) and Hattrick (1995) and the board games Beim Zeus! (1997) and Fossil (1998), which won the 1998 Game of the Year prize from Games magazine. In this game, both Palesch and his publisher are on familiar ground as the relationships with the trick-taking Sticheln and an earlier Berliner Spielkarten offering, David & Goliath, are easy to observe. In fact, Palle is apparently the ancestor of both of the designer's other card games.
I won't bother to detail the rules here as they are available in full on-line. Suffice it to say that this is a 4-suited trick-taking game for 4-6 players in which the first card led forms the trump suit for that trick, the high trumper takes 2 cards of his choice while the low card player takes the remainder and must lead. Following suit is never required. Scoring is achieved by multiplying the number of cards taken in two suits and dividing this total by the number of cards taken in other suits.
Players of Hattrick and David & Goliath will notice right away the similarity in the division of the trick, the collection of cards face up and the avoidance of taking certain kinds of cards, a similarity that Mit List und Tücke shares with Sticheln as well.
Strategy & Tactics
If there is any strategy in the game, it is probably in the correct diagnosis of the hand at the outset. Should a player find one or two suits which contain a lot of high or low cards, or preferably both, these may usually be identified as ideal for collection whereas suits with cards mostly in the middle are prime for dumping. Failing any clear signal from one's hand, it pays to observe what others are collecting and adjust one's play accordingly. It can be particularly effective to try to collect a suit which you have a lot of, but the player to your immediate left is trying to avoid. This will allow you to make safer leads, the lead always being a rather dangerous position in this game as by the end of it, the trick might well be loaded with nothing but cards you are trying to avoid.
Tactically, remembering and leading the high card in a suit that you wish to collect is generally a safe idea as usually there is at least one player willing to get rid of a card in the same suit. Then the low cards may be saved for tricks where you are the last player, giving you the option to take it if there is another card that you want as well as giving you another chance to lead your high cards.
In games like this there is always the opportunity to play less to help your own cause than to ruin that of another. For example, if someone has amassed a score of 30 divided by 2 unwanted cards and you add to their score a third unwanted card, their score plummets from 15 to 5. However, considering that in doing so you have perhaps yourself given up a card that could have added to your score as well as helped two other players, probably this is unwise in general except for situations in which the color of the card is not valuable to you or on the last hand when the score is tight.
Mathematically, players will want to keep in mind that collecting the two wanted suits in equal numbers will maximize their score since, for example, if ten cards are collected, 5x5 nets a score of 25 as compared to 6x4 being only 24, 7x3 only 21 and 8x2 a mere 16. Geometrically speaking, players should try to construct a square rather than a long, thin rectangle.
As one might expect, it is difficult to avoid taking at least one or two unwanted cards, but usually experienced players manage to keep their divisor down to three or less. The 6-player version which adds cards has a much more chaotic feeling as there are more varied objectives and one takes three cards rather than two. Serious players will probably want to stick to the 4-player version, playing the 6-player rules for laughs. The rules to the 5-player version have a strange card mix which appears peculiar to me and I have not tried them.
Background & Appearance
The cards are in green, red, yellow and blue and feature cartoon portraits, the origins of which I am not sure. Every card of a suit bears the same image, which is something of a disappointment considering that even David & Goliath had a different illustration on each card.
Regarding the meaning of the title, like some other titles, it appears to be a play on words. While literally it could be translated as "With Cunning and Malice [or Trick or Treachery or Difficulty]", the entire phrase, "mit List und Tücke" is also an idiomatic expression in German which means "with a lot of coaxing". The subtitle, "ein Spiel für Schlitzohren", means "A Game for Sly Foxes".
The cunning in this game lies in having the loser lead the next trick, thus separating the concept of victory from that of the lead, a feature which will befuddle the most veteran card players, and the clever innovation of the geometric scoring system, although as already noted, other games have similar scoring systems in the sense of avoiding certain cards. The chief downside to the game may be the relatively small amount of control a player has over his own destiny, precisely because of this giving up of the lead and the ability of other players to collectively deliver up negative cards to the trick leader. In addition, the nature of the game seems to cause players, at least our players, to spend a lot of time considering their options, which runs counter to expectation in a card game and may be generate unwelcome waiting periods.
In comparison to other trick-taking card games, this one does not improve on Mü, whose machiavellian bidding tactics are absent here, but is a decent alternative for players who like but may be slightly tired of David & Goliath and Sticheln, although in fact the preferred card game may in fact depend on the number of players that you have. If it is only three, my suggestion is Schnäppchen Jagd, with four - David & Goliath; five should enjoy Mü, while six should again turn to David & Goliath. Above six, readers are on their own, at least so far.
Note added January 19, 2000:
For seven players, try Zoff im Zoo/Frank's Zoo!
Note added April 4, 2002: For more than seven, try Das Grosse und das kleine A. In 2001 Winning Moves Deutschland published the card game Combit by Klaus Palesch.