Spotlight on Games > Translations
English Translation
May 7, 2004
Die Knastbrüder
Players: 2–5
Ages: 8 and up
Length: c. 20 minutes
Components: 60 Bars
6 Secret Cards
1 Die
1 Game Board showing 6 Convict Windows
[Convict Brothers]

by Jürgen Heel

[English translation by Rick Heli. Editorial additions in brackets.]

Idea of the Game

Your old bud ["mate" if you're British] once again finds himself behind "Swedish curtains".* And since friendship among convict brothers takes precedence over all, you naturally want to fetch him out as quickly as possible. But beware: your fellow players will get in your way and try to prevent your escape attempt. Bluffing prevails throughout the game -- not merely a good idea if you want to extricate them.

Game Preparation

The game board is placed in the middle of the table. Gap-tooth Charly, Slant-eyed Harry, Double-chin Paule, Goatee-Joe, Neck-mole Tom and Lard-hair Johnny are already sitting in their cells. Now the 60 bars are placed on the prison windows. Five bars are placed horizontally on each of the six prison windows and on top of that five bars in the vertical direction (or the other way around). Thus each of the six convicts sits behind a grating of ten crossed bars.

The six secret cards are shuffled and each player is given one face down. Composing their poker faces, each player now secretly examines his card.

The cards indicate which convict each wants to free from prison. Then each places his secret card face down. Left over secret cards are not needed and are placed aside face down. It is very important that no one finds out who has received which convict brother or which convict brothers have been placed aside. This remains a well-guarded secret until the end of the game.

Example setup for 3 players.
  • Simone, Klaus and Monika have seen their secret cards and set them down face down.
  • The die is near the board awaiting use.
  • Three secret cards have been placed aside face down.
  • There are 10 bars on each prison window.
Goal of the Game

The goal is to liberate the convict shown on one's own secret card. The first player to remove all of the bars from the corresponding prison window wins. Only then is the secret card revealed as proof.

Course of Play

A starting player is chosen. The game is played in turns in clockwise order. A turn consists of rolling the die and carrying out the results of what the die indicates. Then it is the next player's turn.

Please note: redistributing bars is about bluffing and leading others astray. If someone suspiciously removes a lot of bars from a particular window, he perhaps betrays his buddy too quickly and will have to reckon with the countermeasures of his opponents (lots of extra bars!). Or was it a double bluff?

As soon as the top level of bars are removed from a prison window (thus when there are only five or fewer bars remaining), it's a good idea to pay attention. Because with the next roll (and it's accompanying result), a player could free his buddy and win this cheerful convict party. So: build up for all you're worth!

End of the Game

As soon as a player can remove the last bars from his prison window (and thereby rescue his brother convict from arrest), he can celebrate as the major winner and master of all convicts. As proof of his victory he must now reveal his secret card.

Note: on the winner's last turn, the corresponding bars are simply all taken out of the game (and not re-distributed), any remaining dice points being lost. The remaining players continue as normal and determine the remaining places. Their secret cards also continue to remain top secret.

A player also wins if an opponent frees his window. Before the next player takes his turn, this lucky individual reveals his secret card and says "Yes!"

The Two-player Game

For two the game is the most fun if both draw two face down secret cards and consequently have to free two buddies from the clink at the same time. The winner then reveals his two secret cards at the same time when all of the bars from both prison windows have been cleared. Thus, further bars may be also be placed on an already cleared window.

Tips and Tricks

Lay false trails, set nasty traps and lead opponents by the little finger -- that is the secret recipe by which one ends in front among the convict brothers. That means: natter on nonstop, attentively and sometimes look on with fright, or at least do it, as if -- and lie as needed until the bars bend themselves your way. Well bluffed is half won!

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© AMIGO Spiel + Freizeit GmbH, D-63128 Dietzenbach, MMIV Version 1.0

[*"Swedish curtains" is a late 19th-century ironic and idiomatic expression meaning the lattice bars that cover the windows of prison cells. The idiom was originally iron curtain. When these items started being imported, the particularly good and durable steel came from Sweden, giving rise to the phrase.]

Translation Copyright 2004 Richard M. Heli