Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Great Dalmuti - By guest writer MaryAnn

Several years ago our friends introduced our family to a game titled "The Great Dalmuti". Surprisingly, we realized that at previous times in our lives we had played this game but under several different titles. We knew it as President, Janitor, and Scum. Since our original introduction to the game however, it had been several years since we had played the game. We were thrilled when The Board Game Nut was able to locate a copy of this game for us as we'd been told it was only available through the European market.

We picked up the game after Thanksgiving and began playing with a couple of people we knew, along with some strangers. One great thing about this game is it's quick pace. As in any card game, some luck is involved, however strategy is definitely an important element of this game as well.

The game is based on a hierarchical seating arrangement which begins with The Great Dalmuti presiding at the head with the lesser Dalmuti to his left, progressing finally to the lesser peon and ultimately the Greater Peon - a.k.a. the shuffler, dealer, and garbage/card collector. While the two peons have to pay 'taxes' (their best cards) to the Dalmutis, the Dalmutis get to give their worst cards to the peons. The Dalmuti then begins the first round laying down a set of cards while each player then lays down a set of the same amount of cards, but of a lower numerical value. Whoever lays down the lowest set of cards gains control and begins the next round by laying down the next set. The first player to rid himself of all of his cards becomes the next Great Dalmuti, and so forth. The last guy - well, he's the great peon and can get to work.
While not an extremely technical game, this game is interactive and yes, slightly addictive. It is a great game for parties and for breaking the ice, especially as seats and positions are exchanged after each game. Complete strangers quickly fall into the camaraderie of light banter, complaining, railing against the masses/overlords, and scheming to make their way around the table.
Another great aspect of this game is that children can quickly pick up the strategy and play as well. When we were first introduced to this game, a 10 year old maintained control of the Great Dalmuti seat for the entire evening much to our chagrin!
While fast paced, each individual round can be completed within 10-20 minutes.
This is a fun, interactive, and easily learned game which can be played with 4-10+ people.


  1. Thanks for the review MaryAnn. We had a ton of fun playing while you were in town. I was actually able to get three more copies of the game. They came in today. :)

  2. Why would you buy a special set of cards for this when you can play the same game with ordinary playing cards? I've known this game by many other names as well, it is known all over the world.

  3. A lot of people enjoy a little theme to their games. The artwork and card names add to that. I like the idea of having a separate game, but to each his own.