We all love the classics! That’s why they’re classics, isn’t it? We HeidelBÄRen have a history full of great games. Not only in board games with e.g. A La Carte, but we were also very quickly involved in card games. In 1989, right after our founding, we published Career Poker, based on a traditional Chinese card game, which originated with HEXAGAMES. In this party game, 4-8 players compete with each other for the highest position, from dishwasher to millionaire.
Before each round, high-ranking players are allowed to ask for the best cards from lower ranks and must give them their worst. The higher your rank, the more cards you get. During the round, the goal is to get rid of all the cards as quickly as possible. This is done by trying to match or beat the card value on the discard pile. Several cards of the same rank may also be played, but then the other players must also use the same number of cards to outbid. If no player can get over the discard pile, it will be removed and the last player who was able to discard starts a new pile.
In Career Poker every card looked the same and showed a dishwasher as well as a millionaire. With Animal Poker, we’ve modernized the game. Players take on hierarchical jobs in a company where each number has its own individual animal employee, from the phoning octopus to the bunny secretary, everything imaginable is there. At the bottom is the intern and at the top the CEO. The intern must shuffle the cards and deal them out. The first player to run out of cards becomes the new CEO and immediately swaps places with the previous player. This continues in turn until the new intern is determined, who then has to shuffle and deal again.
This certainly sounds like a neat challenge, where a clever hand and some luck can help the trainee rise to boss in the next round. But the three available freelancer cards in the game, which work like the joker in career poker, can be of great help in case of a bad hand.
At the end, a funny little trivia about the above mentioned HEXAGAMES publishing company. In 1982, Hainz H. Hensley‘s commodity futures company “Effekten- und Edelmetall-Beratungsgesellschaft mbH” became “Lillian Hensley Unternehmensberatung Verlag HEXAGAMES GmbH” after a stint in prison during which he developed a successful board game on the same topic. This company not only served to develop board games, but also continued to sell foreign stock market bets, with which he alone generated yearly sales in the hundreds of millions. At the same time he founded a distribution company for the board games under the name “Lillian Hensley Unternehmensberatung Verlag HEXAGAMES GmbH & Co. Vertreibs KG“, which, according to contractual agreements, had to buy every game developed by HEXAGAMES at fixed prices, regardless of how strongly the title would perform on the market in the future. The GmbH was liable for the KG, but this was financed by outside capital, which led to several millions flowing into Hensley’s pocket. Despite later successful attempts to bring good games to the market (including Career Poker), the story of HEXAGAMES ended in 1992 as it began: With a prison stay of Hainz H. Hensley. The licenses of the HEXAGAMES catalog were sold to other publishers, but some creditors are still waiting for their money to this day.
If you are interested in the full story, you are welcome to read it in the 24th Fairplay issue from 1993!
The illustrations for Animal Poker came from Kel Alexander, who created 13 unique number cards, one freelancer card, and eight job cards. In total, the deck features 104 number cards, 3 freelancer cards, and 8 job cards. A round of Animal Poker lasts approximately 20 minutes and is designed for 4-8 players ages 8 and up. You can order Animal Poker in our online store.