Drunter und Drüber

drunter und druber
I’m not so sure about the wheelin’ and dealin’.

Drunter und Drüber means something close to topsy-turvy in German. It’s a tile placement game where players try to steer the placement of tiles away from the buildings that will score them points. The game won the Spiel des Jahres in 1991, which was the third win for designer Klaus Teuber. He went on to win another in 1995 with The Settlers of Catan, just to make sure all of the other designers knew who was boss.

I’ve played both Drunter und Drüber and the English version released in 2010, Wacky Wacky West, which is the same game with an old American western theme instead of an old German equivalent. I think the tiles in the original game may be a little bigger. Since they are basically the same, I’m going to reference the English version so that I don’t have to continue making umlauts.

Wacky Wacky West is a game for 2 to 4 players. The box recommends ages 10 and older, but my 8-year-old managed to defeat my wife and me last night, so I think ages 8 and up is a safe bet. You can easily finish a game in under an hour. Wacky Wacky West is published by Mayfair Games and is still available.

drunter und druber boardgame
Tiles for the original version

The idea behind the game is that a town was built, but all of the buildings were built before the infrastructure like roads or canals, so as those are being placed, some of the original buildings need to be demolished. Nobody really cares if a bank or a stable gets torn down, but if someone wants do demolish an outhouse, then the townsfolk need to vote on it. Apparently, concern about where you can poop is something that transcends nationality and civic planning.

Each player is secretly concerned about a particular type of building that will score them points at the end of the game. Each turn a player will place one tile type on the board. The tiles are available in three sizes, single, double, and triple. The types are roads, railroads, and canals. In the original game, the railroads were stone walls. Players start the game with a random assortment of tile types, but they do receive the same number of each size of tile.

Tiles must be placed so that they continue from a previous placement. This is made easier by the use of a work gang pawn. A new tile can only be placed adjacent to the work gang pawn. Once placed, the pawn is moved to the end of the newly placed tile. I was a little disappointed at first when I purchased my copy of Wacky Wacky West because I remembered the work gang pawn in the original as being cooler than it actually was. I thought it was a meeple, but it’s just a pawn.

Wacky Wacky West board game tiles
Red American style work gangs

If a player places a tile that will cover up an outhouse, then the players must vote on whether or not they want that to happen. Each player starts the game with a deck of townspeople. Some of the townspeople support the destruction of outhouses, while some of them do not. In the German version, this support is represented by “JAA!” or “NE.” with “NE.” meaning “I would rather you not destroy that outhouse” and “NEEE!” meaning “If you destroy that outhouse, a storm will form over my head and I will most likely kick you in the groin.” In the English version, it’s just “.” and “!” with a plus or minus to remind us what it really means. I like the German cards better.

There is also a card that means “I really don’t care one way or the other.” Another card represents a vote that could go either way. Players may play as many of these cards as they wish and the votes are revealed simultaneously. If the votes for the demolition are equal to or greater than the votes against, then the tile is placed; otherwise, the tile is returned to the player and play continues. Once a voting card is played, it is discarded, except for the “I really don’t care one way or the other” card.

Drunter und Druber game cards
Drunter und Drüber voting cards

The game ends when no player can place a tile on the board. Players reveal the type of building that they were trying to protect and the final scores are determined. If there is a tie, then the total value of the voting cards acts as a tiebreaker.

I liked playing Drunter und Drüber enough to purchase Wacky Wacky West. Honestly, I rather have the original version, but not enough to track down a used copy. If one happens to fall in my lap someday, I will be very pleased.

This is a very light game that plays quickly, and I like the bluffing aspect as players try and figure out what type of building their opponents are trying to protect. I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a good family strategy game that’s easy to play and teach to non-gamers. Klaus Teuber knows what he is doing. Wacky Wacky West is is available at your local friendly game store, like the Crazy Squirrel here in Fresno, or you can order it from a quality online retailer like Funagain.com.

spiel_des_jahresThis is part of my Spiel des Jahres winner series. If you would like to comment on the 1991 winner, Drunter und Drüber, then please do so on this post. If you would like to discuss or comment on the Spiel des Jahres award in general, please do so on the Spiel des Jahres series post.

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