Category 5 is actually a new version of a older German card game called 6 Nimmt! 6 Nimmt! was a very popular game, but has become very hard to find these days, even on ebay. The great thing about Category 5 is that other than a theme change, it really has not changed all that much from 6 Nimmt!. This is a great thing for anyone that enjoyed the older version to hear. I know a lot of people will hear a game is a “new version” of their old favorite game and be dissapointed when they find out it’s actually quite different.
As I said, the play is very similar to 6 Nimmt! but for anyone that never played that game I will go over the basics. First of all, the contents of the game are very basic. It’s a deck of a 104 cards numbered from one to one hundred four. Each card has a certain number of hurricane flags, which is the thing that changed due to the change in theme. The goal is to acquire as few of these flags as possible. The flags are the important part for scoring the game, the number on the card is the important part for the play of the cards.
To start the game each player gets ten cards and there are four cards dealt face up to the center of the table forming the four rows that will be the “playing area” for the game. For each round all the players will determine which card they will play from their hand by placing it face down in front of them. Once everyone has selected a card they are flipped over and players go in order with the player with the lowest card going first. On your turn you will need to play your card to one of the four rows on the table, but there are certain restrictions as to which row you can play it to.
The first rule is that you can only play a card onto the end of a row if your card is higher than the card at the end of the row. The other rule is that out of the end cards your card is higher than, you must place it next to card that is closest to the value of your card. So in reality there is only one place you can play your card. If there are no cards lower than your card as an end card for the rows you will get penalized. You must choose a row and take the cards that are in it and use your card to be the new end card. Put the cards in front of you and keep track of the number of flags on the cards. When someone has 74 flags the game ends and the person with the lowest number of flags wins. The other way you are forced to acquire flags if if your card is the sixth card in a row. The rule is that when you play the sixth card of the row you have to take the five existing cards and your card becomes the new card to start the row.
There are some subtle strategies in this game. One of them is when to play a card that you know is lower than all the end cards. You can do this on any turn, and you might want to do it when you know there is a row with very few penalty flags. When you have choose to play a card that is lower than all the end cards, you get to choose which row you take as the penalty. This is why I say there is some subtle strategy. Just hope your opponent didn’t come up with the same idea and has chosen a lower card than you so they go first!
This game can be played with two to ten players. It is best to play with at least six players that way the rows fill up faster and require more strategic decisions. The rules also include a few different variations you can play, I will let you read about them if you buy the game, but I would stress that you should get a handle on the basic game before playing the variations. Obviously if you have played 6 Nimmt! before then you might be ready for those advanced variations of the game. This game is a bargain and quite often can be found for less than $8, at that price it’s a nice game to play to kill time or even for a game night on it’s own.