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Game Review

The Great Dalmuti

Wizards of the Coast
Game ©1994 Wizards of the Coast
Date reviewed: 3/15/2005
Dalmuti displayed

5-8 Players 30+ minutes


Defend your role as leader from the peasants looking to move up in status and knock you down. Tax the peons to reinforce your position.


Before the first hand is dealt, the deck is shuffled, and each player draws a card. The player with the lowest number card is designated as the "Great Dalmuti." The player with the second lowest card becomes the "Lesser Dalmuti." The player with the second highest card is the "Lesser Peon," and the player with the highest numbered card is the "Greater Peon." All of the other players are merely "merchants." Players are asked to arrange their seating at the table as follows: the Great Dalmuti sits wherever they choose... to his/her left sits the Lesser Dalmuti... to his left are the merchants... The Greater Peon sits at the end with the Lesser Peon to his/her right.

Players are encouraged to abuse their position in the game whenever they are one of the Dalmutis -- Asking for the Peons to provide food and drinks is not uncommon.

The "Greater Peon" is responsible for shuffling, dealing, and collecting all cards during a hand. Cards are dealt one at a time in a clockwise direction. All of the cards are dealt out -- if any player gets stuck with more cards than the Dalmutis, just know that rank has its privileges.

If you are dealt both Jester wild cards, you may declare a "Revolution" -- you become the Great Dalmuti, the player to your left is the Lesser Dalmuti, and so on.

At the beginning of each hand, the Dalmutis collect taxes! The Great Dalmuti passes any two cards from his/her hand to the Greater Peon, and in exchange, the Greater Peon MUST give the Great Dalmuti his/her two BEST (lowest number) cards. Similarly, the Lesser Dalmuti exchanges one card for the Lesser Peon's best card.

Now the cards are played... The Great Dalmuti starts by placing a set of one or more cards with the same number face up in the center of the table. Clockwise, players each get the opportunity to play a set of the same number of cards with a numerical value LOWER than the previous player. If a player cannot or does not want to play, then they pass. When all players have "passed," The Greater Peon removes the cards from play. The player who played cards last starts play again.

The first player to empty their hand of cards becomes the Great Dalmuti for the next round, the second player out is the new Lesser Dalmuti, and the last two are the Peons -- Everybody shuffles chairs, and play begins again.


game card

Winning Conditions:

  • The player who gets to be the "Great Dalmuti" the most times, wins.

    The game can be played over and over until everyone is too tired to play anymore... winning is just knowing that you weren't the Greater Peon.

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up! The Great Dalmuti is an excellent party game for a large group of reasonably rowdy players.  It is simple to learn, yet strategically challenging.  Keep in mind that you do need five or more players to enjoy it.

One of the best variants that I have heard of with this game is to give each person a hat... the better ranked players get better hats: the Dalmuti's get crowns merchants get baseball caps, and peons get stove pots or cullenders to use as hats.  It also helps to have the Dalmutis actually act the role... requesting drinks served by the peons, and so on.  (Of course, don't over do the role can make people very angry that way.)

The game is a good social event. It doesn't require extreme concentration, and it allows for playful gloating. Unlike this variant, the original doesn't try to force a particular joke onto the players -- and allows for more than six players.  If you can find it, get it.

Where to buy:

This is out of print.  Check your local game store to special order it, or check e-bay. The original price is $7.95 US.

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