Five Cucumbers is a simple trick-taking game (based on the Scandinavian favourite Agurk) where you don’t want to win tricks, and you certainly don’t want five cucumbers!
Seven cards are dealt to each player at the start of the game. Five Cucumbers has only one suit – cucumbers! – numbered from 1-15 with four of each card. Play proceeds by each player laying a card in clockwise fashion, and on your turn the choice is to either play a higher card that the current highest card in play, or – if you can’t or don’t want to – playing the lowest card in your hand.
The highest-played card will win the trick, and the winning player begins the next trick. But the key to winning isn’t having the most tricks – it’s simply not winning the final trick of the round.
The player who wins the final trick takes cucumbers equal to the number on the highest card. If a one was played in the round by another player, they take double cucumbers! As soon as you have five or more cucumbers, you’re out of the game. When only one player has less than five, they are the winner!
I enjoyed this well enough, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best trick-taker out there. There are six tricks to be dispensed with before you get to the nitty gritty of that all-important seventh trick, so there’s a bit of a build-up before reaching the nub of the game. And for many the fact you get eliminated feels rather old-school when there are many good trick-takers (see below left) that keep everyone involved to the very end.
All trick-taking games have a modicum of Take That in them, but nothing too alarming. However for younger kids (or sensitive souls) it's worth bearing in mind there is player elimination here. There'll be those who don't want to watch the rest of the game play out as spectators after they're knocked out.
It depends on whether you're still in or not!
Low. You want to start the last round with a low card, so it's all about engineering your hand to that purpose.
It's intriguing enough to merit