At a Glance: Adel Verpflichtet is an underrated, eccentric bluffing game of vain, materialistic Lords.
In Adel Verpflichtet (released as Hoity Toity in English), 2-5 Lords try to accumulate the oldest, largest collection of antiques and novelties. Each turn, players simultaneously reveal a location and an action. Through a type of Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanism, players may either go to an Auctionhouse to bid for (or play a thief to try to steal) interesting items, or they can go to a local Castle to exhibit their collections. If more than one player plays a Thief at the Auctionhouse, they interfere with each other and they cancel each other out. Thieves at Castles each get a chance to steal an item from one of the exhibits, BUT if someone plays a Detective, all Thieves are captured and sent to prison. This means those Thieves cannot be used by their respective players for awhile. The final scoring happens when one pawn makes it to the end space, then 8 spaces are awarded to the Lord with the best collection, and second-best advances 4 spaces. The winner is the Lord whose pawn has advanced the furthest. So it is possible to win without having the best collection, but it can be tough and you would have to have a lead with a cushion.
Each weird and interesting item belongs to a certain color & letter. When exhibiting sets, there must be at least three items, from letters that are adjacent to each other. So if you have a set of items from groups BBCDDDE, you may not want to exhibit the “C” just in case it gets stolen, and you would be reduced to a 4-Card set. These second thoughts and considerations make for interesting strategy decisions, but it doesn’t make the game feel very heavy. In fact, this is a really accessible game for those who may be interested in heavier hobby board games, but are just dipping their toes in the water. I really like the rare antique/novelty item cards. They are a good size and the art is authentic and appealing. I actually like how in my copy, the item names are still in the original German, because I just like saying them.
The win conditions and endgame are unique because at its heart, Adel Verpflichtet is a racing game, but you are awarded so much for having the best collection that you really have to focus on trying to acquire a good set of items along the way. It is also a great bluffing exercise, as you try to guess your opponents’ intentions and anticipate when they play Thieves, and which location they are going to. The game was released in 1990, but feels pretty fresh. It won the German Game of the Year award, the Spiel des Jahres, in fact.
The components are fine, and the cards are definitely my favorite part. Unfortunately, the game is out of print. I ran across my used copy at a bookstore, and you can generally find a copy online. This one is overlooked nowadays and dare I say, forgotten. This is a unique, worthwhile game that deserves to still be alive.