For a strategy game buff and a universe lore geek like myself, Tak is a game that fuels my nerdy soul. In case you haven’t heard of Tak, here’s the quick rundown. Patrick Rothfuss‘ Kingkiller Chronicle featured a tabletop game called Tak in the second book of the trilogy, The Wise Man’s Fear. In the Four Corners (the setting of the trilogy), Tak is a popular folk game, occupying the same place that Chess or Go resides in our non-fictional world. As a folk game, everyone in that universe, from peasants to nobles would have access to a Tak set in materials appropriate to their socio-economic status, be that simple wooden sets carved by hand or carved of ivory and onyx for the most wealthy nobles.
Game designer James Earnest, who is the mind behind Cheapass Games approached Rothfuss and asked to design the game, as it was described but the rules were not described (let alone developed) in the world. After much collaboration, the rules of Tak as they exist today emerged.
The game, like folk games, is simple and easy to learn, but because it is also deeply strategic, is challenging to master. The rules are available freely online (though if you can, you should donate to Cheapass Games if you enjoy it), and you can buy sets of the game from the Tinkerer’s Pack (with proceeds going to charity) for $25+.
But if you want to try the game out first or you want to create a unique game set of your own, DIY is one way to approach it. Here are a few ideas to help you get there.
THE BEAUTIFUL CRAFT: CROCHET TAK
With only a few of hours, you can crochet your own Tak set. Step-by-step instructional photos are in the gallery below, but the pattern is pretty straightforward. I used worsted weight yarn, an G or H hook (appropriate to your yarn), and 2 contrasting colors of yarn (you’ll use less than half a skein of each color). You don’t need to gauge but you can increase the size of the board and pieces pretty easily as long as you’ve got the techniques down. You’ll be using four simple and straightforward stitches: chain (ch), single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc) and slip stitch (ss). You’ll also need to know how to do a magic ring (which we’ve covered in the Dragon Egg Dice Bag Pattern).
The “stone” pieces: Start with a magic ring, and ch 3 (counts as your first dc). Crochet 5 dcs into the ring, and then 6 scs into the ring. Pull the tail of the magic ring to form the circle, ss the circle closed. Turn and ch 6, skip 6 scs and ss the end of the chain into the top of the 7th dc. Bind off.
What you’ll get is a crocheted circle with a chain that can lay flat with the circle to form a stacking piece, or can have its chain pulled upward to stand up and represent a standing or wall piece.
The “capstone” (star/flower) piece: Start with a magic ring, and ch 2. Work an sc into the chain nearest to the magic ring. Join with a ss into the magic ring. Starting with the ch 2, repeat 4 more times until you have five points. You can also do fewer points or more points to create a flower or an X piece. Pull tail to bring the star together and tighten, and bind off.
For the board: The board is simply a 6×6 checkerboard using the intarsia technique, though you can create a checkerboard using any crochet technique that suits you. For this board, you’ll start with a chain of 31, and start working your scs across on the 2nd chain from the hook. Alternate colors every 5 scs, and alternating the starting colour of the row, every 5 rows. Each block is 5 scs wide and 5 rows tall.
You can adjust the size and number of spaces accordingly, but this is a really simple method to making a board, and you can use whatever technique out there to create a board of your own.
Total cost: $6 for the two skeins of yarn
Total time: Two and a half hours of crocheting
WOODEN DOLLAR STORE TAK
The craft area of your local dollar store can be a trove for items to create a Tak set with. I found these blocks and this square box with a square chalkboard built into the lid. I marked the sides of some of the blocks with a slash to indicate a “wall” side, and I colored off corners of a couple blocks to indicate a capstone block. With a piece of chalk, the set is good to go with less than an hour of staining pieces (though I do plan on also staining the box after I get at it with my wood burning kit).
Total cost: $2.50 for the box, $3.00 for the blocks, $4.00 for the wood stain
Total time: 45 minutes staining pieces
MILTON BRADLEY TAK
If you’re going for the most minimal effort, scavenge through old tabletop games laying around – checkers pieces work fine (use the crown side to indicate walls). Pro tip: Connect 4‘s pieces make for fantastic Tak pieces simply because they actually stand up on their sides rather well. Grab a penny and a dime for capstones, draw a grid on sheet of paper and you’re set.
Total cost: Free
Total time: However long it takes you to find where you stashed your old Milton Bradley games
Featured Image & Blog Image Credits: Teri Litorco