Review – Primiera
A hand management game of changing partnerships.
Year Published: 2014
Designer: Spartaco Albertarelli
Game Time: ~20 Mins
Set-up Time: >10 Mins
Mechanic: Hand Management
How to win: Be the first player to reach the required point total.
Four players compete in the card game Primiera to score as many points as possible, with the partnerships between players changing each round depending on who plays which card first — and sometimes it’s every player for themselves!
Set Up & Game Play
There are special rules for 2-3 players, I will cover how to play a 4 player game here.
Choose a random dealer and have them deal the 4 Herald cards, face down, to each player.
Then, the dealer shuffles the deck and deals the remaining 36 cards to each player so everyone has a hand of 10 cards including one random Herald.
Each player chooses a card from their hand to put face down in the middle of the table. When everyone has picked, they are turned face up.
The player to the right of the dealer goes first, and play is counter clockwise. The active player will play a card from their hand face up to the middle of the table then see if they captured any cards. If no capture is made, the played card stays on the table.
The capture rules are as follows…
If the played card has the same value as at least one card in the middle of the table, both cards are captured by the active player. These are placed face down in front of them. The player chooses which card to capture if there is more than one available.
If the played card doesn’t match a single card vale, but does exactly match the value of multiple cards combined, the active player captures the played card and those cards.
If you take all of the cards from the table, this is called a “Sweep”. To mark that you have taken a Sweep, turn one of the captured cards face up in your score pile.
When all players have played all their cards, the last player to Capture any cards takes all the cards from the middle of the table. This does not count as a Sweep, in fact, if the last card played takes all the cards on the table, this doesn’t count as a Sweep either!
The Herald cards have a value of one and the first herald played determines the partnerships for the round.
Each has an arrow and if the first herald played points to the Left (Green, Herald of Clubs) or Right (Gold, Herald of Coins), it means that players partner is the player on their Left or Right leaving the other two players to team up.
If the Arrow points Up (Red, Herald of Cups) you get paired up with the player across from you.
If the Arrow points Down, (Gray, Herald of Swords) it’s everyone for themselves this round.
Once everyone has played all their cards, scoring occurs…
The Sweeps – For each face up card in your score pile, your team scores one point.
The Cards – A point is awarded to the Team who have captured the most cards.
The Coins – A point is awarded to the team who captures the most cards of the Coin suit.
The Seven of Coins – A point is award to the team that captured the Seven of Coins.
The Primiera – A point is awarded to the team with the best Primiera score. Each team takes 1 card from each suit and adds the total of the Primiera value to get their Primera score.
Points scored by a team are scored by both players. If you play individually, you only score the cards you captured but each players score is doubled. Points for Sweeps are not doubled.
At the end of a round, if a player has 21 points or more they win! In the case of a tie, keep playing an extra round until there is a clear winner.
This is based on a classic Italian card game played in pubs around the country.
It’s a very simple game to play… Capture cards, Capture Yellow Cards, Capture the Yellow 7…
But at the same time you need to make sure you’re not leaving the next person on a sweep. Trying to capture while keeping the total of the cards in play above 10 to prevent this leads to some very tactical play.
The Herald cards are great and separate this from a lot of card games but they are so frustrating!
The player to your Left scores points early, great! Except your Herald points to your Right meaning you can’t pick them and you know they can’t pick you!
Being able to pick your team early gives you a bit of an advantage… But as that Herald card is a ‘1’, it’s easy to leave a player on a Sweep. You can of course, play the Herald targeting the player on your Right (if you have it), hoping they sweep up.
A very nice and fun yet simple card game different to anything else I own.
I give it 7/10