3 Sind Eine Zu Viel!* (or 3’s a Crowd) is a small box card game from German publisher Amigo. It hasn’t had an official English release, but the cards are language independent and the rules are fully downloadable in English.
Listed for ages 10+ (I think 8+ should be fine) it plays well anywhere within its two-to-four-player range and a game lasts about half an hour. It sets up/packs down in a few seconds and is firmly in the ‘filler game’ category.
In the double-deck sized card box you’ll find 98 cards and a rulebook. The cards have a high quality linen finish (admirably standard for Amigo’s games) and while both the colour and design choices aren’t without their problems (see ‘key observations’) the cards are at least pleasing on the eye in a minimalist, pastel kind of way.
In the great tradition of Amigo’s better card games, 3 Sind Eine Zu Viel! is not heavy on rules – it would rather let them get out of the way, so that the agony and stress can begin!
A deck of cards numbered 1-89 are shuffled and each player receives a 20-card draw deck. Beforehand the 0, 30 and 60 cards are placed in the central area of the table (they stay throughout), along with three random cards to get the ball rolling (placed sequentially as appropriate after the 0/30/60 cards). Any remaining cards are put back in the box and players draw a starting hand of eight cards.
If you place the fifth card into a row you take cards into your scoring area: the first in the row if you place the highest card, or all cards to the right of the one you place otherwise (so one to three cards total, as you never take the 0/30/60 cards).
As is so often the case in this type of light card game, 3 Sind’s scoring is the clever part. There are seven ‘suits’ (colours): collecting one card of a suit will score you one point, while collecting two will score you five points. Unfortunately, if you take a third card in a suit, they are all flipped over and you have to start again (so the fourth in a suit scores one point, the fifth five). And each flipped card will get you a minus point.
When each player has played six cards, everyone draws back up to eight from their draw pile. Once this has been done twice, and everyone is back down to two cards (so you each play 18 in total), the game ends. The highest score wins, but there are some pretty good bonus point opportunities thrown in to keep things interesting.
The four sides
These are me, plus three fictitious players drawn from observing my friends and their respective quirks and play styles.
- The writer: Comparisons to 6 Nimmt! are inevitable, but 3 Sind Eine Zu Viel! is important because it plays well with the lower player counts while offering a similar experience. I’d also argue it offers the player a little more control – either real or imagined – as you don’t have to play every card and you seem to have more choice in what you take. Generally it feels more subtle, while generating those same feelings of despair as you almost always end up taking something you don’t want.
- The thinker: If you get a good spread of cards this can offer an interesting and fun challenge, but there’s a good chance of getting a bum deal that gives you very few options. In a couple of games I’ve had most (six or even seven of eight) in one section, which can leave you in an awful position not of your own making. Of course this is a 30-minute card game, but it’s worth noting as this can drive you nuts! Overall though, a worthy addition to the Amigo family.
- The trasher: I enjoyed this one. There’s a bonus offered to the player who first gets at least one of each colour and it’s of course tempting – but it can also be a poisoned chalice. Racing to one of each for a 10-point bonus is great, right up until you realise you’ve got more than half the cards you want and it’s not even half way through the game! As for screwage, it’s fun to laugh as people are forced to take cards they don’t want but as you can’t see what they have it’s hard to set those things up deliberately – which would of course be more satisfying!
- The dabbler: Short, simple set up, nice colourful cards – so why did I walk away with a feeling of ‘meh’? 6 Nimmt! sets the bar for this kind of game very high and has more stand up, laugh out loud moments. 3 Sind Eine Zu Viel! is more subtle, and feels more strategic, and just doesn’t quite create the same atmosphere around the table. It also means that, although it plays well with two players, it doesn’t quite have enough mayhem to be a really silly, A+ two-player experience for me. A good game, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
The cards are mostly white, with the number and a line-drawn smiley face all that adorns them. The colours are all pastels and even with relatively good eyesight and in a well lit room some are very hard to tell apart – especially the light blue, aqua and light purple.
To make things worse the difference between the faces is relatively subtle; some players don’t even notice they’re different until you point it out. As there is no theme, it boggles the mind that of all the graphical options they could’ve chosen (bold shapes, for example) they’ve settled on this.
Do you need 3 Sind Eine Zu Viel! if you already own 6 Nimmt? If you want a game that plays well with two to four, then yes – or if you’d just like a variant because you play this type of game often, again yes. Otherwise, I’d suggest you try before you buy.
I’ve enjoyed my plays of 3 Sind Eine Zu Viel! The mid-game bonus cards are a tantalising way of making the early game interesting, while the agony at the end is just what you’d expect from this type of card game.
On the flip side, there’s a little too much luck of the draw – largely because you’re not in control of what other players are laying, while you have no idea what they have in hand. This can lead to frustration, especially as the gameplay gives you a feeling of control and of decision making; at least more-so than its famous predecessor.
For now this is a keeper for me, but due to 6 Nimmt’s laugh-out-loud moments I doubt this will have that game’s staying power over a longer period of time. A good game for sure, but not a classic.
* I would like to thank Amigo Spiele for providing a copy of the game for review.