Sunday, February 3, 2008


The third game we played on Friday night was Familienbande which I believe translates into English as "Family Ties". It's a simple card game with a little, but not a great deal of strategic depth.

There are around 60 cards, each containing an illustrated portrait of a man or woman. Marked clearly on each card, each of these people also has a combination of three attributes (genes) out of a pool of five.

The five attributes are big ears (coloured blue), eyeglasses (yellow), "impressive" noses (green), red curls (orange), and broad lips (red).

Each character has three genes, but these may include more than one of the same attribute. So while one card may have an ear, a curls and a nose icon, another card may have two glasses icons and a nose icon. Five of the cards have three of the same attribute on them.

At the beginning of the game each player secretly takes an attribute tile and peeks at it to see which attribute they have. The idea is then to promote that attribute more strongly than any others.

The promotion of attributes is done via marrying and child birth. The game starts with three cards being dealt face up on the table to represent the first generation. As the game progresses, each player may marry two people, by placing a person of the opposite sex next to a single person.

As a couple, they can now have kiddies. On their turn, instead of marrying two people, a player may instead choose to place a card down as the descendant of a couple. The catch is that the three attribute icons on this card must be made up of three of the six attribute icons of the parents.

For example, if one parent has red/green/yellow, and the other parent has red/blue/blue, then you could place a card with red/green/blue down as the child of this couple. However, you would not be able to place a card with green/green/blue down because that would require two green icons from the parents, and they only have one between them.

If you're not thoroughly confused by this, then please read on. Each descendant represents a new generation. The first descendant of the game will be placed on the table below the existing row, and will form the first card in the second generation. When this card is married, and a child produced, it will be placed in the third row, representing the third generation.

The game continues up to the fifth generation. Each generation can have no more than one more descendant than the generation before. That is, the first generation has three people. The second generation can have no more than four descendants (who can then be married), and the third generation five.

The fifth generation is therefore made up of seven descendants. This final generation cannot marry. Once the seventh card is placed in this generation, the game is over regardless of whether every generation above them is "full".

So, scoring. Kind of important I think you'll agree. Every time a descendant is placed on the table, the attributes on that card score points. The points allocated depend upon the generation. For every attribute on a card in the second generation, two points are scored. So if a second generation card has blue/blue/red, then the blue marker will move 4 places up the score track, and the red one will move 2 up.

The idea is that each player will try and promote their own attribute as much as possible, so they move up the score track. However, saving cards with more than one of your own attribute on it for later generations is a good idea for two reasons. Firstly, you get more points. If you were green and save a green/green/red card for the fifth generation, you'll score 10 points (and you'll give 5 points to red).

The second reason to hold good cards until the later generations is you may not want to give away your colour too early. Not that there's a great deal of blocking strategy the other players can use as they are limited to the cards in their hand, and the combinations on the table.

After the seventh card is placed in the fifth generation, the game ends and everyone reveals their colour. Points are then deducted from each player for any cards remaining in their hand.

Whoever has the most points wins. Obviously. In the one game we played, I finished dead stone motherless last. I didn't get at all strategic, and failed to hold any good cards for the later generations. Rather silly really, but these are the things that you learn in hindsight and make you itch for just one more game...

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