- Number of Plays: 13 (since I started recording games, I’m sure actual number of plays is 50+)
- Game Length: 5 minutes – 3 hours (however long your group feels like playing
- Mechanics: Real-time, Card game
- Release Year: 1960
- Designer: Werner Ernst George Muller
Pst. Hey, kid, come over here. I know you’re interested in that hot new game that everyone’s talking about, but check out what I’ve got for ya. Dutch Blitz is a classic, a real gem I tell ya. You gotta get in on this action while you can. After all, a game that continues to get sold and played after 80 years has to be good, right?
When I say the words ‘Dutch Blitz‘ to a group of people, there’s at least one person who perks up and gets excited. Whether it’s the game they played endlessly with their family, or spent playing all summer at camp, or even played in college instead of writing that boring term paper, Dutch Blitz has touched the lives of many.
How to Play
This section is going to be a little tricky as house rules for Dutch Blitz are rampant, like most games that manage to survive the relentless passage of time and get taught via word of mouth. Everytime I teach Dutch Blitz to a group that has at least one other person who has played before, a difference in rules comes up. So, here’s how my family plays:
Each player is given a deck of 40 cards, numbered 1 through 10 of four different colours. To begin the game each player shuffles their deck, and deals 10 cards face down. This is their ‘woodpile’, and their main goal is to reduce their the number of cards in their woodpile down to 0. They then deal 3 more cards face up in a row as their ‘posts’. The remaining cards in their deck get held in one of their hands.
I’m gonna need a bigger table
Simultaneously, players shout “GO!” and flip the top card of their wood pile. In real time, players are searching for cards they can play to the center of the table, creating piles of cards of the same suit in ascending order (beginning with 1, going to 10). If they see a pile with the top card being a red three and they have a red four in front of them, they can (quickly) take their red four and put it on top of that red pile, face up.
Should your woodpile and posts all be inelegiable for play, you can turn the top three cards from the deck in your hand onto the table, showing you a new card you may be able to put out onto a pile. When you have flipped through all the cards from your deck, you pick up the whole pile (do not shuffle) and start again from the beginning.
You must alternate boy-girl-boy-girl in descending numbers when stacking on your posts
Should you choose, you may also place a cards on your Posts, as long as the cards descend in sequence, and the suits alternate. If you’ve ever played Solitaire, then many of these mechanics and goals will feel very familiar, but with a lot more speed and stress. If you don’t like the word ‘Blitz’, feel free to use my title for the game: “Stressey Speedy Multiplayer Solitaire–y“.
The first player to drain their woodpile of cards shouts “BLITZ!” and all other players either simultaneously groan, or mutter their thanks to a deity of their choice. All players count up the cards left in their woodpile (these cards are -2 points each, for a maximum of -20 points in a round), and all the cards that made it into the common centre area are worth 1 point each. Seperate all the cards back to their owners, wipe the sweat from your brow, tally the score (or don’t, scores are arbitrary), and set up for another round!
I can’t remember how Dutch Blitz came into my family, but I can recall late nights at my Aunt and Uncle’s cabin, young teens and adults alike frantically playing, roccus laughter, and a flurry of bent cards. Later in life, I introduced it to my college class during some down time, and it took off spectacularly. Initially, only one other person in my entire class had played Dutch Blitz before, but after a week of playing it every day during lunch, suddenly four other decks had been purchased and three tables were now dedicated to Stressey Speedy Multiplayer Solitaire–y every day from 12:30 to 1:30.
Get that blue four on the pile, stat!
It started friendly enough; multiple games would be played with the same people, with the first player to accumulate 100 points winning for the day. If if we ran out of time, so be it. Eventually a round robin style was adopted to accommodate a dozen players. After each game we’d rotate one seat to the left, introducing new players to each group (now that there were 4 simultaneous games happening) and we abandoned the idea of accruing a growing score over multiple games. Competition became fast and fierce, elbows flew, and other classes learned to avoid the cafeteria when those rowdy culinary kids were playing their little card game.
A few years later I was hanging out with some co-workers from the restaurant we worked at. I pulled out Dutch Blitz, and one other person had played it before. Two others joined in and after a quick introduction to the rules (and a small argument on house rules), we were off. The other experienced player and I were quickly flipping from our decks and slapping cards into the centre of the table, while the other two chefs sat and stared at our fury. Turns out, while this game is fun to play while getting inebriated, it’s difficult to learn when you’re already in that state.
It’s good manners to put the 10 card face down to indicate that pile is ‘finished’
Like most real time games, a level of familiarity and history does give experienced players an edge. Dutch Blitz can be really intimidating to new comers, especially when playing at the full player count. When three other people are quickly scanning their cards, and slamming their cards into the center stacks, the information available to each player is changing rapidly. By the time you notice that one of your cards could go out onto a stack, it’s entirely likely that someone has already beat you to it. The most dramatic moments of Dutch Blitz are when two players try to put the same card on the same stack at the same time. Either one will get there a moment faster, slipping their card under the other persons and shout victoriously, or the cards will collide and bend, and the owner of the game winces as the players argue over who arrived first.
While I’m all for keeping my games in as nice condition as reasonably possible, there are some games that you just need to accept their damage. I have 3 copies of Dutch Blitz all in varying levels of condition. It’s a game that gets played enough and is enough fun that I don’t mind needing to buy a new deck every 4 or 5 years.
Playing Dutch Blitz with the full complement of four players is a joy. The stacks in the centre of the table grow quickly, and if you miss putting a card out you can be sure another stack of the same colour will grow quickly. While it can be frustrating to watch others play cards while you’re stuck with a 10 card on top of your woodpile, your bad luck can be offset by playing other cards into the centre of the table. While the person who goes out ends the round, they aren’t always the person with the best score.
My wife loves Dutch Blitz and for a while, we’d play together, just the two of us. Unfortunately at the minimum player count of two, it’s not uncommon for both players to get stuck in a rut, just flipping cards, unable to play any to the centre at all. We played that if we both were stuck and agreed to do so at the same time, we’d flip the top card from our deck to the bottom, giving us a new set of cards when flipping through our decks. While it’s still a fun and fast paced game, it’s left wanting at two players.
Heaven forbid they use different colours. Or different icons…
At the other end of the spectrum, I also own the expansion pack, which allows up to 8 players to join in on the action. I’ve only played a few games at 8 players, we all found it to be a tedious experience. The table size required to fit 8 people was expansive enough that people seated on the end of the tables were unable to reach all the way over to the other side, or, if they got excited, dove across the table sending the other piles flying. It wasn’t long before we decided breaking into two 4 player groups was the better way to play.
Overall, I recognize that Dutch Blitz is not the game for everyone. If you prefer your board game nights to be quiet, civilized affairs, I’d recommend giving this a pass. If real time games tend to stress you out, Dutch Blitz isn’t going to change your mind. Nonetheless, Dutch Blitz has been a hit with most of the people I’ve introduced it to. There’s a special kind of excitement that grows in your heart when you find another kindred spirit who has Dutch Blitz in their history. It is joyful to find an opponent to test your skill against and to reminisce about how this little green box made its way into both of your lives.