Trick-taking games are ‘so hot right now’ and with each new release comes innovation and excitement. I am seriously addicted to the whole genre (including ladder games and card shedders) which has resulted in me searching for Trick Takers both new and old.
During one of these deep dives I stumbled upon Djinn which was released in 2018 and it peaked my interest as it was stated for 2 to 4 players and included a set collection mechanism. So I thought why not, and I rubbed that lamp.
Did this cause a Djinn to be released and fulfil all my dreams, or was all I left with was a slightly cleaner lamp? Please read on to find out.
How To Play
Djinn is trick taking class 101. Four suits with numbers 1 to 15. Cards are dealt, a trump is revealed and tricks commence. But wait, there are a couple more things you need to learn. Firstly all players are dealt a Djinn card of which there are lots of different types that could make the lowest card win a trick, ignore the trump card and lots of other rule breaking ideas.
Then there is the set collection element to the game. Whenever you win a trick you collect one of the cards used for that trick. Then at the end of the round you spend these cards to move up a ladder of achievements. On the first rung of the ladder you need to submit 3 cards to achieve one of three randomly chosen tasks. These could be 3 cards all of the same suit, or the same number or all equalling below or above a certain number. The next rung of the ladder requires 4 cards and the last rung requires 5. The first player to complete the third rung of the ladder wins.
So far, so good right? Nope, there is a problem here, and that is a problem that has plagued trick takers for all time. If you have a good hand when the cards are dealt you will almost certainly win the round, therefore climb up the ladder quickest. Which means you are at an advantage for the rest of the game.
To combat this, the players furthest behind are dealt a new Djinn card at the start of the round. But unfortunately this is quite often not enough to stop a player who gets their nose in the lead.
I wish there was more Djinn cards in play to really ‘throw the cat amongst the pigeons’ but as it is the cards only effect one trick each which may not alter the direction the round is taking.
Variants In The Box – 2 Players GRRRRRR
This game does not work for 2 players. There are no special rules or adjustments made for a 2 player game, so why include this number on the box? One simple reason is to sell more copies. This makes me so angry. It is not a 2 player game, so please don’t buy it expecting to have an enjoyable 2 player experience. The suits should have been reduced or maybe both players playing two cards per trick rather than one. If you are looking for a two player trick taker then go for The Fox In The Forest, Jekyll vs Hyde or Herrlof.
I wanted to like Djinn so much with Its simple trick taking, set collection mechanism and special cards that break the trick taking rules. But, like trick takers of old, the best hand of cards wins almost every time and once a player gets their nose ahead it is very hard to catch up.
The inclusion of ‘2’ players on the box infuriates me as this game does not work at 2 players. There is no reduction in the suits of cards or numbers, no special rules about playing 2 cards each, nothing, nada, no changes. It feels lacklustre at best and at worst like it was never even tested before being released.
The Trick Taking genre of games has entered a golden age of innovation and Djinn has been left behind. If I was you I would look at Cat In The Box, Shamans, Jekyll vs Hyde, The Fox In The Forest, St Patrick or Aurum for your trick taking needs and leave this one in the Lamp.