Fictional Game Becomes Reality – The Story of Tak

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Tak was conceived by  New York Times bestselling author and real-world Gandalf Patrick Rothfuss for a novel. Cheapass Games has heaved it into reality, and it is funding on Kickstarter now.

Tak first appeared in Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear, which was the second volume of The Kingkiller Chronicle. The game is described as, “simple in its rules [and] complex in its strategy.” Within the novel, the game occupied a place similar to chess in our own. Rothfuss said in a recent blog post that, “Tak is supposed to be my world’s version of Chess or Go or Mancala.”

Which sets forth a formidable task for any designer wishing to try her hand and making the game real. How do you make another chess? It’s like asking a playwright to produce another Hamlet. But James Ernest of Cheapass Games set himself to the task. Ernst said, “I was excited by the idea of creating a new classic.” Rothfuss and Ernest had collaborated before.  Pairs is a new pub game which featured art inspired by Rothfuss’s novels, with game design by Ernest, which was successfully Kickstarted in 2014.

Rothfuss was skeptical of the new project at first. He said, “I can’t ask you to make a game like that. It’s like saying, ‘[Y]ou know those games that have stood the test of time for hundreds or thousands of years? The best games ever? Do that, but in my world.’”

On a 2016 panel, Rothfuss elucidated, “I said [to James] something along the lines of ‘You can’t make it. Nobody can make it. Even if you made it, you wouldn’t be able to make it right. And if you did make it right, nobody would want to play it.’”

Despite Rothfuss’s misgivings, James Ernest continued on his quixotic quest to make Tak into a real thing that exists. After a year of design and playtesting, Rothfuss changed his tune about Tak. He said, “James shows up with this thing, and it was… so [expletive] good. It was beautiful. It was elegant. It was irritating, because I hate being wrong.”

The rules of the game live up to the elegance of chess. Players are given colored pieces, and the board looks like chess. Players must make a road of their pieces from one side to the other. Capstone pieces and stacking add strategy to the game. Full rules can be found here courtesy of Cheapass Games. In still more geeky good news, you can already play Tak online thanks to superfan Chaitanya Vadrevu.

Intrigued? Fascinated? Seduced? Then hie thee forth to Kickstarter to get your copy of Tak before the other kids on your block!

Think Tak is cool? Cheapass Games has produced enough board games to choke a donkey. Witness here.

In addition to being a writer and gaming imagineer, Pat Rothfuss is a philanthropist. Learn more about his charity Worldbuilders here. To when your appetite for helping Pat help the world, behold, Patrick Rothfuss trying to make-out with a llama.

What will Patrick Rothfuss kiss next? Mange-ridden ferrets? Wolverines? Let us know that you think of Tak and Patrick Rothfuss’s effort to reach out to the animal world in the comments below!

Feature image courtesy Gollancz. Other image courtesy Cheapass Games.

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