The Short Trial is about evil villains who are in the dock for their grievous deeds and who are supposed to receive their just punishment. They are charged with various crimes such as theft, forgery, burglary, extortion and even murder. The criminals try to avoid their responsibility and blame one another in the hope that they will not end up in jail or only have to serve a light sentence.

Shorten imprisonment

Kurzer Prozess was designed by the well-known game designer Reiner Knizia and is for 3 to 6 players, ages 10+. You slip into the roles of the accused and try to push each other as many incriminating cards as possible. These can be cards about crimes, witnesses or the so-called “black peter” cards. The more cards, i.e. incriminating evidence, a player has at the end of the game, the longer the prison term. In the game this is called the “jail period”. The winner is the player who spends the shortest total time in jail after 3 games. According to the description, a complete game should last about 30 minutes.

Game material and preparation

After opening the small game box for the first time, you will find instructions, two stacks of cards welded in and various exposed markers. Since you don't have to play the material like crazy, you can start reading the rules and playing right away.

The instructions are made of thick paper, the markers are just as nice and firm. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

After unpacking the cards, we find three different types of cards. These are crime cards, black peter cards, and witness cards.

There are 50 crime cards, 5 black peter cards, and 5 witness cards in the game. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

There are 15 markers with different periods of imprisonment included. These suggest the chalk lines that criminals put on the prison walls to count the days of their involuntary stay.

The markers show different lengths, no two markers are the same length. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

The crime cards consist of cards in five different colors, each representing a crime. Each color is then subdivided into different values ​​with different terms.
The terms on the cards are not necessary for the course of the game, but they contribute to the theme and atmosphere of the game. These are meant to represent the incriminating evidence.

The cards are all shuffled together and evenly distributed to the players. Finally, prison period markers are randomly removed, always one less than players participate. Because a clever crook always gets away with it every game.

Unfortunately, the back of the card looks a bit dreary. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

revenge is black pudding

The youngest player starts the first game, the two games that follow are always started by the player who previously received the longest period of jail. Because he's out for revenge and of course wants to get started right away.

Simple set of rules

The set of rules is simple and contains little text. The instructions are well divided so that the player can turn to the pages quickly.

Important aspects of the rules are highlighted in bold letters. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

Incriminatory evidence is revealed

In turn, each player places a card in front of himself or a fellow player. There are a few things to keep in mind. Only the cards are allowed in front of a player a single color and a color must not be visible on more than one player. Exceptions are the witness cards, because they are jokers and go with any color.

The black witness cards are wild cards and can be used as any suit. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

Movement comes into play when a Black Peter card is played.

My hand cards in the test game for short trial
The use of a Schwarzer-Peter-Karte must be carefully considered. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

It is always placed in front of itself. Then each player has to push all cards in front of him to the left neighbor.

Very useful: The cards with 5 points in front of me now move to my left player and I get a card with only 1 point. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

As soon as there are cards worth more than 5 points in front of a player, he is convicted. He must take all the cards on display - both his own and those of the other players - and place them face down in front of him. The same applies if a player cannot play a suitable card. Incidentally, a player can also voluntarily take all cards. This could sometimes be tactically wise, otherwise it could get worse.

The player in the top left was convicted of theft because the evidence cards show a total of more than 5. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

Then the next round in the game begins, the convicted player wants to get back at the other players and is therefore allowed to begin. This continues until a player whose turn it is has run out of cards.

End of game and final scoring after three games

At the end of a game everyone must determine the number of cards they have collected in the game. Whoever has the most cards gets the highest jail period, the second most gets the second highest period, and so on. The one who has accumulated the fewest cards got away scot-free again with no prison sentence.

After three games, players compare the total length of their accumulated imprisonment periods. Whoever serves the shortest imprisonment can be celebrated as a winner.

The jail periods are placed next to each other in order to be able to make a direct comparison. The player with the marker in third place wins the game. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

Many tactics possible in the course of the game

Here the player can use different tactics that can look different every round and that also varies depending on how many cards are available to you.

First and foremost - this is my suggestion - at the beginning, since I still have a lot of cards in hand, I would focus more on my left teammate and spare the right teammate as much as possible. Because as soon as a Schwarzer-Peter card is played, I finally get the cards from the player on the right.

With 6 players it gets a bit trickier because there are only 5 card colors. It can then often happen that one of the players has no cards in front of him during a round.

Card counting has advantages, but is not allowed

As in the casino game Black Jack, counting cards is strictly prohibited. You may no longer look under the cards you have collected and the prison periods.

I find that a little difficult when it comes to the Schwarzer-Peter cards. Because there are only 5 pieces. One can be tempted to count them, but it is especially difficult to handle for people who remember things automatically and unintentionally - I belong to that group of people.

However, it is allowed to rush against your teammates and to ally yourself.

Images for game name


Number of players: 3 to 6 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: about 30 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Long-term motivation: medium

Published by Gmeiner Verlag
Author: Reiner Knizia
Year of publication: 2017
Language: German
Cost: 12,90 Euro


Short process is thematically well implemented. The cards not only have colors and numbers that would have been enough for the game itself, but also terms that match the topic. The material can be rated as very good, the cards are firm and easy to grip, as are the markers. I find the gameplay very stimulating for a tactical game. However, people who count cards can have too great an advantage. Although this is forbidden according to the rules, it cannot always be avoided. This is a weakness that - depending on the participating players - depresses the replay value somewhat.