Hammerschlagen is a game with a simple set of rules, and a very difficult gameplay. In this centuries-old German / Austrian social game, you have a tree stump (with its surface flattened and smoothed), you have a hammer, and you have a bunch of nails. Each player takes a nail, and hammers their nail a few millimetres into the stump. Then — using only the thin, axe-like side of the hammer — each player in turn attempts to whack their nail all the way in. For this evening's après-ski in Kitzbühel, we kicked off the night with a visit to Chizzo (an outdoor bar in the main street of town), where they have a Hammerschlagen area set up. Jake and Mitch introduced the rest of us to the game: here in Kitzbühel, the rule is that the loser (the last person to hammer their nail in) shouts a shot of Jäger to everyone else who played. Check out the video.
Hammerschlagen in Kitzbühel.
Little kids having a whack: you’re meant to use the other side of the hammer.
I have a few pieces of advice for anyone who wants to play Hammerschlagen:
- Don't play if you're broke. When we played this evening, we ended up getting about 7 people in a single game. The loser (fortunately not myself) had to shout over €20 worth of Jäger shots!
- Don't play against the barman. Woody is the barman at Chizzo, and he's a Hammerschlagen prodigy: one hit, and he gets it all the way in, every single time.
- Don't play against the people that taught you. Jake and Mitch are pretty savvy at the ol' Hammerschlagen, too.
- Don't lose hope. Just because you've missed the nail the previous 20 turns, doesn't mean you won't pulverise it spot-on during your next turn.
- Just whack it. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you! The truth is that whether you tap like a girl ("carefully" — or at least attempting to be) or you whack like Hercules, you have the same (un)likelihood of actually hitting the nail. So you might as well give it all you got: then, at least, when you finally do hit it, you'll get it all the way in (or close to it) in one shot.
After the game: free Jäger shots for all!
Other than that, all I can say is: enjoy yourself, take it easy, and keep them Jägers coming!