Polterfass is a fast-moving game of beer-drinking. Not literal beer-drinking, but gambling on the Innkeeper having enough beer for everyone. If they don’t, they keep it for themselves…
Each player is given a deck of eight bidding cards numbered from 0-7. The starting player is the Innkeeper, and when you’re the innkeeper you ignore the cards. Instead you take the dice – which are shaped like barrels – and shake them in a cup before revealing them. The barrels are numbered from 2-9 and represent the amount of beer the Innkeeper has this round. Two smaller barrels can be used to either double the amount in a barrel of the Innkeeper’s choosing, or cancel a barrel out entirely. When the barrels are revealed, only the upright barrels are counted – ignore any on their sides.
At this point, all the other players make a bid for how much beer they want by playing 1 or 2 cards face-down on the table.
Then the Innkeeper has a choice – you can roll the remaining barrels, or choose not to. Having lots of beer is good, because you’ll get any left over after everyone else has taken their share. The catch is that if all the barrels land on their sides, you are essentially bust and get nothing. If you choose not to, then you’re hoping instead the other players will collectively go bust, by asking for too much beer. In that case the Innkeeper gets all the beer, and whoever asked for the most has to pay that amount to the player who asked for the least!
The role of the Innkeeper then passes to the left, and a new round begins. The game ends as soon as any player reaches 75 ‘beers’.
A very swingy game in terms of points, this one is all about reading your opponents and pushing your luck. As the Innkeeper, you really want to roll low first, and high second. But the temptation is always there to simply serve up about 5 beers and watch everyone go bust… lots of fun for those who don’t mind their plans blowing up in their faces.
The dual roles of Innkeeper and Customer really add to the fun here. When you’re the customer, you’re deciding how many points you want to take this turn, from 1 to 13 – reading the table and not getting too greedy. When you’re the Innkeeper you have the chance to make BIG points, especially, as Sam says, if you roll low to begin with and your customers think you’re going to play cagey – you can just keep rolling and really push your luck. And you do! And you don’t go bust! Then you discover that your Customers read you like a book, and put in really high bids, and all your risk was to line their soggy pockets with beer. Brilliant.
It depends how you feel about someone stealing your beer.
Rules-wise, there's no brain-burning here. It's all about reading the table, second-guessing your opponents, and pushing your luck!
Not a huge a variety in game-play, but randomness ensured by the dice.