Author: Leo Colovini

Publisher: Winning Moves 2004

Awards: none



To say it right from the beginning, Familienbande is a cardgame with a rather atypical background, and as you will see Leo Colovini once again has put much care into the design of the game to make the playing mechanism a good reflection of the background story. The game itself is centered about the inheritance of family genes, and each player takes up the role of one family which tries to do best in inheriting their genes over a total of five generations.

The genes which are represented in the game are big ears, big eyes, big noses, long hair and broad lips. At the beginning of the game, each player is secretly assigned a randomly drawn gene, and it will be this gene which he must try to represent best during the five generations which the game will take. The players will not know the genes of each other for the duration of the game, so there will always be a speculative element on which exact purpose a player pursues.

With the genes assigned, all playing cards will be mixed. Three of these cards will be placed in an open row on the table in order to form the first generation in play, whereas the other cards form a drawing pile from which each player receives a starting hand of five cards. Each of these playing cards shows a potential family member with one or more "outstanding" attributes. These attributes are not only reflected by the picture on the card, but also by a row of three symbols which may be found at the edge of the card. Thus a card may - for example - display a nose, an ear and lips, or it may also have the same symbol twice to symbolize that this specific gene is rather strong in this family member.

Now the game will start, and it will be the aim of the players to collect the highest number of victory points by getting his specific gene represented in as many family members as possible. In his turn, a player has three options from which he may chose his action:

  • He may sponsor a marriage: to do so, he must take one of the cards from his hand and place it in a way so that it overlaps one of the cards which already has been placed on the table. This way a couple is formed. After sponsoring a marriage, a new card is drawn.
  • He may bring a child into play: this procedure is tricky, since now a player has to compare the three gene symbols on the card he wants to play with gene symbols of the different couples which are already in play. Only if he can find a couple where three of the genes match the three genes of the card he wants to play he may bring the new card into play. This is done in a way that the card goes into a new row of cards which is aligned below the row containing the parental couple. Thus, the new row represents the next generation.
  • As a final option, a player may chose to pass and simply draw a card for his hand.

As can be seen, new generations come int play by forming couples and bringing children into play. Each generation may contain one more child than the generation before, so that - since the first generation had three cards - the second generation may have four children in it, the third generation five children and so on. Couples may be formed and children played in any generation, with the exception that no more couples may be formed in a generation when the maximum number of children was reached in the following generation.

The game is played until the seventh child is placed in the fifth generation (thus finishing this generation), and now the final evaluation will take place: each player now reveals the gene which he represented during the game, and he is assigned victory points according to how well his gene is represented in the game. Thus, the gene symbols of each family card in each generation are checked for a player's gene, and a player gets victory points for each symbol which can be found in play. Thus, a player gets two points for each fitting gene symbol in the second generation, three points for each symbol in the third generation and so on. This evaluation is run for each player, and each player also gets some points substracted if he should still have cards on his hand. In the end, the player with most victory points will have won the game, since his genes were most successful in being inherited over the generations.

Once again the well-known author Leo Colovini has created a captivating new game which certainly should not be underestimated due to its comparably small size. Although the rules seem to be a bit difficult regarding the length of my explanations above, the game is much easier to understand and play if you have it in front of yourself. The playing mechanism is well constructed and works rather smoothly, and the game demands a good portion of strategic planning on side of the players if they want to emerge victorious. Over all, the game offers a surprising playing depth which is coupled with a good background story and fitting artwork, and thus the publisher WINNING MOVES did well to release the game for a broader audience.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany