“My next several hours were spent learning how to play Tak. Even if I had not been nearly mad with idleness, I would have enjoyed it. Tak is the best sort of game: simple in its rules, complex in its strategy. Bredon beat me handily in all five games we played, but I am proud to say that he never beat me the same way twice.”

-Kvothe, The Wise Man’s Fear

Tak is called “A Beautiful Game” and it’s true. Simple to learn, easy to play, and challenging to master, it has all the hallmarks of a classic game. In fact, it is as classic: it is ancient, IF you happen to live in the Four Corners of Civilization, the world created by Patrick Rothfuss in his Kingkiller Chronicle books. First introduced by Rothfuss in The Wise Man’s Fear, it took veteran game designer James Ernest a year and a half to convince the author he could bring the game to life.

A two-player abstract strategy game, the object is to build a road from one side of a square grid to the opposite side. The size of the grid can be any agreed upon size from 3×3 to 8×8, with the number of pieces used scaling accordingly.

As the game progresses, a player can choose to play a new piece (stone) onto an empty space on the board, move a piece that’s already on the board (including onto other pieces creating a stack), or move part or all of a stack they control. Basic stones can be played flat or standing with different effects, and there is a special piece called a capstone that also has specific abilities. The game ends when a player makes a complete road, either player has used all of their stones, or there are no remaining empty spaces on the board.

The retail edition comes with wooden pieces and a standard two-sided playing board, but players around the globe have already created their own pieces and boards ranging from very simple to heirloom quality. As well, one of the interesting features of Tak is that the board itself is largely cosmetic, little more than a visual aid for placing the stones.  All that is really needed is a centre point, a coin for example, and the players can simply visualize the remainder of the grid as they play.

Even before the game was officially released, fans had created an online version of the game at playtak.com and organized the U.S. Tak Association to create and hold structured tournaments.

Tak is one of the best games I’ve played in a long time, and I strongly recommend it. If you still aren’t sure, you can download The Rules and give it a try for free online at playtak.com

Originality: 4 / 5
Visual Appeal: 5 / 5
Ease of Play: 4 / 5
Strategic Challenge: 5 / 5

Total expressed as a percentage of the Ultimate Question: 42.85%

James Ernest at Cheapass Games online or on Facebook

Patrick Rothfuss can also be found online or on Facebook


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