Tak: A Beautiful Game is a new game by Cheapass Games based on the game, Tak, in Patrick Rothfuss’s book, Wise Man’s Fear, which is the second installation to his famous series, The Kingkiller Chronicles. It is a simple strategy game played with 2 players, in the same vein as chess or checkers. It’s very short, simplistic, and easy to learn; each game can last anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes. And the objective is a clear one: build a road that connects each side of the board where all of the pieces are adjacent to each other (never diagonal).
The game is played with basic stone pieces, capstones, and a two-sided, five by five board. One side of the board is a simple wooden design and the other is a floral pattern that has diamonds, which allow users to play a six by six version of the game. The size of board who choose will determine how many pieces you use. You can play as small as a three by three sized board, if you so choose. For the purpose of the review, I played the five by five version due to the lack of capstone in the smaller versions.
In the five by five version, each player receives 21 of their color stones and one capstone. Much like chess, the pieces are other white or dark brown/black; however, unlike chess or checkers, the board starts off clear at the top of the game. Now, there are two piece types and each does something different. The stone pieces can either be placed flat or standing. When flat, they begin to form your road and they can be stacked upon when a player moves. When they are placed standing up, they form what is known as a wall. Walls do not count as part of the road, however, they are useful in blocking the other player from being able to form their road. Furthermore, walls cannot be stacked or knocked down by any piece other than the capstone.
The capstone, is the piece that most resembles an actual chess piece. Depending on the size of the board, as I mentioned earlier, players have either none or a very limited supply of these. That’s because the capstone can be used as part of a road and they can knock down a wall that is in their way. They also, cannot have any pieces stacked on top of them, which will affect the other player’s movement.
The players will randomly select who goes first and at the start of the game, each player will place one of their opponent’s stones. White will place a black piece and vice versa. Then the first normal turn will be begin and during each turn, a player can decide to either place a piece or move. Placing a piece means just that, the player will place any piece they would like to on any space on the board. Moving will mean moving a piece once, into a stack, or moving a stack that their color controls (whatever color is on top of the stack).
Stacks move from the bottom to the top. Technically, they allow a player to move more than once space because you can drop off one piece at a time until you run out of a pieces or board. If you have a stack of seven on a five by five board then you will only be able to move five spaces even with seven pieces. The stacks are where you can become truly strategic in how you play and think about what you will or won’t do. Tops of stacks that are owned by your color do count as part of your road; therefore, you can win with a stack in the middle of the board as long as your color controls it.
The main two ways to win are to either make a successful road before your opponent or, in the event you run out of pieces, if you have the most flat stones on the board. Both are okay ways to win and you can adjust your strategies as you play. There are other variations of the game in the rules that include ways to score for multiple rounds but you’ll just have to get the game to find out how fun those are.
Overall, I really enjoyed Tak: A Beautiful Game. It’s a simple game with a great design, easy to keep track of pieces, and really cool strategy. Also, I actually won this game unlike the previous games I’ve reviewed and that felt pretty cool. If you like strategy games then Tak is seriously a game to pick up. I’d give it 9 flat stones out 10.
You can check out Tak: A Beautiful Game over on the Cheapass website. It’ll make you feel like you’re in a medieval tavern and it’s great!
Have you read the Kingkiller Chronicles and wanted to play this game? Have you played Tak? What are you thoughts? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Featured Image Credit: Blythe Wiedemann.
Blog Image Credit: Blythe Wiedemann.