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Duck Duck Bruce

Similar to Zirkus Flohcati but better for children

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Duck Duck Bruce

Duck Duck Bruce

Image courtesy of Gamewright
I want to tread really carefully here... because if you read this incorrectly, you're going to hear me accusing a famous game designer of plagarism. That is decidedly not what I'm trying to do.

But it's important to note that Kleine Fische (the original version of Duck Duck Bruce published by Goldsieber) came out in 1997, and the remarkably similar Zirkus Flohcati by Reiner Knizia came out in 1998. I think this is a case of parallel development... where two designers had similar ideas and created two different games with similar designs. No harm, no foul.

A Great Card Game for Children

So, although Dr. Knizia's game is ranked much higher at BoardGameGeek.com, I recommend Duck Duck Bruce for children. Why?

  • While I love the flea circus art of Zirkus Flohcati, I think the bold and vibrant duck and dog pictures on the Duck Duck Bruce cards are much more compelling for kids.

  • The penalty for pushing your luck is smaller in Duck Duck Bruce... well, potentially smaller. You can "bust" and still possibly get some cards.

  • The scoring of Duck Duck Bruce is easier to explain to small kids -- it's hard to get Zirkus Flohcati's concepts of Trios and Galas across.

  • I like the Bruce the Dog (dice) mechanic for stealing cards -- it's a bit more random but does allow you to go after someone in the lead if you're willing to take a chance.

The Basics of Duck Duck Bruce

Duck Duck Bruce

Duck Duck Bruce

Image courtesy of Gamewright
Maybe you've read this far and are thinking, "Thanks for all the comparisons, Mark, but I haven't played either game. A little help here, please."

No problem. Both games share a common mechanic: on your turn, you flip over cards from the deck until you either "bust" (get another card of the same suit) or stop and take your winnings.

There are special action cards in both games that enable to get cards from other players - if you turn one over, you must take the special action. When the deck is exhausted, players in both games score the highest card of each suit they have.

How The Games Differ

The differences?

  • Duck Duck Bruce is about ducks and the dog who chases them; Zirkus Flohcati is about a flea circus.

  • In Duck Duck Bruce, your winnings include all the turned-up cards; in Zirkus Flohcati, you pick one of the cards.

  • If you "bust" in Duck Duck Bruce, you only remove the matching cards and the cards between them; in Zirkus Flohcati, a "bust" means you don't take a card.

  • There are three special action cards in Zirkus Flohcati: steal a card, ask for a gift card and keep placing cards until you have a match then take one of them; Duck Duck Bruce has only Bruce the Dog that allows you to pick an opponent and roll the die to steal cards.

  • There is only one kind of scoring in Duck Duck Bruce; in Zirkus Flohcati, you can also score for Trios (laying down three identical cards) and for a Gala (having one card of each of the suits in your hand -- which also ends the game).

  • You play multiple hands of Duck Duck Bruce and total your scores; you play one hand of Zirkus Flohcati.

The German rules and English rules for Zirkus Flohcati differ – and I use the German name for a reason. (I don't like the English changes.)

I think Duck Duck Bruce is a tad quicker and easier for kids to learn (my four-year-old can play if someone helps him figure his score). Not that I'm getting rid of my copy of Zirkus Flohcati, mind you -- just that this is the better game for kids.


Duck Duck Bruce is for 2 to 4 players, ages 6 and up. It was designed by Peter Neugebauer and published by Gamewright.

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