6 Nimmt! (1994) – Accessibility Teardown

Game Details
Name6 nimmt! (1994)
ReviewMeeple Like Us
ComplexityLight [1.22]
BGG Rank609 [6.90]
Player Count (recommended)2-10 (4-10)
Designer(s)Wolfgang Kramer
Artist(s)(Uncredited), Timur Baskakov, Design Edge, Bill Herrin, Gatis Sluka, Studio Tapiro and Franz Vohwinkel
Buy it!Amazon Link (Commisions earned)

Version Reviewed

English Edition 2015

Introduction

I described 6 Nimmt in our review as being ‘The Mind for people that didn’t like the Mind’ and I think that’s a decent frame to understand its appeal. Released in 1994, it’s still the best ‘putting cards in an order’ game I’ve played. Despite the inherent chaos of what you’re doing it manages to feel like a game where your decisions all carry with them important weight. I’m not sure they actually do, mind – it just feels like it. We gave it three and a half stars in our review.

Still, that release date isn’t encouraging as we head into a teardown. We know how poorly games do even now when accessibility is a better understood deliverable. In 1994 the market for board games was very, very different and considerations of accessibility were often less than even an afterthought.

Enough rambling. Let’s get stuck into the analysis and see where we end up.

Colour Blindness

There are some clashing colour issues, but nothing that actually matters – colour isn’t the sole channel of information on any of the cards or even a particularly important one.

Colour blindness and 6 Nimmt cards

The only thing colour does is indicate which cards have the larger penalties applied and this is information duplicated directly in iconographic form through the use of bull-heads. It would have been nice if some other colours had been chosen but it has vanishingly little game impact.

We strongly recommend 6 Nimmt in this category.

Visual Accessibility

The cards are (reasonably) well contrasted with large central numbers and those same numbers replicated at each of the corners. The number of bullhead penalties on each card is a little harder to see but there’s a fixed pattern to their distribution that can be reasonably easily committed to memory.

6 Nimmt cards in a row

However, while the cards themselves are accessible they use to which they are put in the game is more troublesome. There’s a lot of subtle information revealed by each play and the position of each card.

Rows of cards in 6 Nimmt

Consider the layout above. It communicates quite a lot of information – the safety associated with particular card ranges; the cards that are unavailable for later rounds; the distance between them; and the likely progression of card plays. All of this can be verbalised because the game state lends itself well to that. It’s just not going to be nearly as convenient especially since picking a card to play depends heavily on what a player has got in their hand and what they think the state means for everyone else. Knowing the 26 is out and the 27 is in your hand has an impact on decision making – it means you’re never going to be in a position where a 27 will be a guaranteed follow on card so it shouldn’t be conserved on that basis. Knowing the 63 and 65 are out has implications for the 62 and 66 you may have ready to play. Cards will disappear from the game too, going into a player’s ‘bull pen’. These are collected up face down though so there’s no real difference for a visually impaired player and a sighted player.

For a totally blind player, the need to evaluate a hand of ten cards against a changing game state with a large amount of numerical precision is a challenging ask. Probably not so challenging that the game is unplayable but certainly challenging enough that I’d be skeptical it would be fun. For a player with less severe visual impairments the simplicity, clarity and easy layout of the cards permits for close inspection with minimal inconvenience.

We very tentatively recommend 6 Nimmt in this category.

Cognitive Accessibility

The numeracy required to play 6 Nimmt is limited to simple addition and seriation. There is though a much higher level of assumed implicit numeracy as well as the need to pick up on emotional cues that impact upon probability. For those with memory impairments, it will be a challenge to keep track of which cards have been collected up by other players. I don’t forsee there being any hugely negative impact though to playing with the ‘bull pen’ open. It would level the playing field somewhat without impacting on the core game loop.

Now, were that the whole story I’d sign this off and say ‘probably okay’, but…

That chaos discussed in the review really comes into play here. The sheer uncertainty of outcome associated with 6 Nimmt means that there’s an argument to be made that simply playing random cards would result in success as often as would be associated with careful planning. It’s not actually true – I have won games consistently and predictably enough to believe there’s a link between skill, familiarity and success. I don’t think it’s a hard or reliable link though, because a single player acting as a random agent can completely upset every piece of planning that goes into a round.

6 Nimmt cards

Let’s say that the image above represents your game state. You’re about to play down a 92 and that’s about as safe a move as you could get. Even if the whole sequence of numbers plays out before you get your card down the worse you can do is end up fifth in that row. Then someone plays a 5 and for some unknowable reason takes that 88 card with its five penalty points. Suddenly your 92 is closest to the 65 and you need to play there instead, picking up the six associated penalty points. Spread that surprise upset across a full set of players. You may well find that one single point of uncertainty means that planning is completely useless. In that case it’s basically unpredictable who will win based on skill or familiarity. The person playing the 94 after you now continues your line instead of the first line, and so on. Everyone ends up with something they didn’t expect with a corresponding impact on future rounds.

Now, that’s obviously frustrating for some people, but it’s also kind of fun. You need to be willing to take the game as an exercise in collaborative anarchy but it can still be a satisfying experience that comes with very little cognitive load.

As such, we’ll tentatively recommend 6 Nimmt in our fluid intelligence category because while a player without a strong grasp of probability will not play well, in the process they’ll also ensure that neither does anyone else. We’ll recommend the game more strongly for memory provided the bull pen is played open.

Emotional Accessibility

It’s rare that you’ll genuinely have a turn in 6 Nimmt that goes exactly the way you expect it and the consequences of that can be considerable. It’s possible to go from ‘I’m totally going to be safe’ to ‘Wow, I just got fifteen penalty points’ with the flip of a single card. Points disparities are often large. Some editions of the game also cast this as obtaining negative points.

Games that do this are always going to be something of a psychological wild-card, although at least here it’s not evenr possible to get a positive point. If that’s how the game you own works you can easily play by inverting the polarity though – lowest score wins. The effect is exactly the same, and the version I’m reviewing presents the scoring in exactly that way. The way I was taught though was ‘avoid picking up negative points’.

There’s no opportunity to undo mistakes, and no way to really avoid them. Baked into the design of 6 Nimmt is a window of unknowability and that’s where much of the fun comes from. It’s possible you only find out once it’s too late that you’re about to pick up a monster truck full of bullheads because of the poor play of your opponents. It’s possible to be the smartest player and end up with the worst score.

Recommendations then in this category depend on mindset. If players are keen to have a tactical challenge, then it’s not a great fit even if there are variant rules that increase the amount of control players have over the experience. If everyone is happy with a game where you may as well roll a dice for what happens round by round, 6 Nimmt is sufficiently breezy and fast-paced that it’s hard to feel too aggrieved when it doesn’t go your way.

We’ll recommend 6 Nimmt in this category with these caveats.

Physical Accessibility

Players will be working in the first instance with a hand of ten cards, although this will get smaller as the game goes on. The cards are (mostly) structured well enough to work in a pair of card holders, although the penalty points associated with each is located in the centre header or footer of each card. Thus playing with the cards overlapping will obscure this information. Otherwise a card holder will be appropriate. The progression of penalty points though is reasonably predictable – 5, 15, 25 and so on have two bullheads. The tens have three each. The multiples of 11 have five except for the 55 which has seven. In a pinch a single card holder would suitable and since orientation doesn’t overly matter it’s possible to save a lot of space in that holder even at the start of the game.

Verbalisation presents no obstacle to play either – simply indicate which card to play and then it goes face down in front of the player. While there is simultaneous revealing of the cards there doesn’t have to be simultaneous choosing. Once the card is played down, the effect is completely deterministic.

We’ll recommend 6 Nimmt in this category.

Socioeconomic Accessibility

There is no gendered art in the game, and the manual makes use of the second person perspective throughout. I mean, I guess that’s not really true. Bulls are gendered. I think. I’m not really sure – I’m a city boy. All I know is the last time I tried to milk a bull the farmer shouted at me until I stopped. Anyway – all the gendered art in the game is based on bulls.

6 Nimmt cards

6 Nimmt has an RRP of around £14 and supports between two and ten players. It does though require a player count of at least four before it’s actually fun. However, one pleasing feature of 6 Nimmt is that if you buy it you also have the makings of a copy of The Mind and The Game and a number of others. I suspect that’s not a great selling point for the makers of those games, but it turns out a pack of 104 numbered cards is pretty versatile. You might want to pick it up for that very reason in the same way every household should have a pack of playing cards and a pile of dice.

We strongly recommend 6 Nimmt in this category.

Communication

There’s no formal need for literacy, only a recognition of Arabic numerals. There’s no need to communicate during the game.

We strongly recommend 6 Nimmt in this category.

Intersectional Accessibility

A visual impairment intersecting with a cognitive impairment would be sufficiently problematic to remove our recommendations for both categories. Remembering parts of the game state is such an important part of compensating for visual accessibility (particularly total blindness) that the additional memory load is likely unbearable. Other than this, there are no specific intersectional difficulties that come to mind.

6 Nimmt plays pretty much as quickly as you like – the rules are to play until someone has 66 penalty points but you can play out a single hand, play tournament style, or to a point count of your own choosing. It doesn’t take up a huge amount of space to play, and the constraints of the game state mean that it takes up a predictable amount of space. It even reasonably gracefully supports players dropping out of play, although not joining in during the middle of a game.

Conclusion

We liked 6 Nimmt more than expected. We haven’t gotten along especially well with games of this style in the past, and yet there’s so much carefree and anarchic fun here that it’s difficult to come away without being endeared.

6 Nimmnt, Meeple Like Us, [CC-BY 4.0]
CategoryGrade
Colour BlindnessA-
Visual AccessibilityC-
Fluid IntelligenceC
MemoryB
Physical AccessibilityB
Emotional AccessibilityB-
Socioeconomic AccessibilityA
CommunicationA-

And perhaps my early concerns about accessibility were unfounded in the first instance because the one thing that’s true of older games that are still available is that they’ve had a lot of the rough corners knocked off of them. Games that survive for twenty-five years in a marketplace like this have learned the value of being accessible to a wide audience.

We gave 6 Nimmt three and a half stars in our review, and it turns out that if you’re looking for an accessible game (with some caveats as always) there’s a lot to recommend here. And if you don’t like 6 Nimmt after giving it a try, there’s a dozen or more games you get just from having these cards available in your collection. Worth your consideration, perhaps.


A Disclaimer About Teardowns

Meeple Like Us is engaged in mapping out the accessibility landscape of tabletop games. Teardowns like this are data points. Games are not necessarily bad if they are scored poorly in any given section. They are not necessarily good if they score highly. The rating of a game in terms of its accessibility is not an indication as to its quality as a recreational product. These teardowns though however allow those with physical, cognitive and visual accessibility impairments to make an informed decision as to their ability to play.

Not all sections of this document will be relevant to every person. We consider matters of diversity, representation and inclusion to be important accessibility issues. If this offends you, then this will not be the blog for you. We will not debate with anyone whether these issues are worthy of discussion. You can check out our common response to common objections.

Teardowns are provided under a CC-BY 4.0 license. However, recommendation grades in teardowns are usually subjective and based primarily on heuristic analysis rather than embodied experience. No guarantee is made as to their correctness. Bear that in mind if adopting them.

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