GAMING POINT OF LOU – TAK, A BEAUTIFUL GAME

January 2, 2018 Author: Lou Federico

 

Patrick Rothfuss is one of the modern era’s finest authors, he has the ability to wield the English language with the same expertise that a surgeon wields a scalpel. While I highly recommend picking up his bestselling novels, Tak is a simple board game born out of his literary genius that is the subject of this article.

”Tak” designed by James Ernest & Patrick Rothfuss, fits neatly into the “abstract strategy game” genre which of course means two things: 1) it is ridiculously simple to learn, and 2) it takes an equally ridiculous amount of time to master. The premise is simple enough, create a road from one side of the board to the opposite side, all while trying to block your opponent from completing their own road. Likewise the setup is as simple as can be: 1) Choose your pieces, either black or white.  (color does not determine starting order) 2) Select your board size. Yes, you heard me right. The board is fully scaleable from 3×3 to 6×6, Wwith each size providing for it’s own tactical nuance. Think 6×6 is too easy? Try the same strategy on a 3×3 board, and you will quickly understand that you need to adjust your thinking. 3) Count out the correct number of pieces for the chosen board size. 4) Begin play by placing one of your OPPONENTS pieces on the board. So, black puts down a white piece and vice versa.

An example of a completed road on a 5×5 board, the road does not have to be straight, it just has to connect one side of the board to the other. (Note: this board can also be played 6×6 by using the red diamonds instead of the squares)

During gameplay, your pieces (also known as stones) can be placed in one of two ways. They can be put down flat, which contribute to your road. Or you can stand them up. These standing stones do not count towards your road, but they have the ability to block your opponent from completing their road. Individual or stacks of pieces under your control can also be moved to claim a spot from your opponent. However, it is against the rules to play a new piece directly onto an opponents. It is actually far simpler in practice than it is to coherently type out, which is a testament to the simplicity of the games design. Players also have access to a special piece called a “capstone” (on a 3×3 or 4×4 board you do not have a capstone, only on a 5×5 or 6×6). This piece can not only flatten a standing / wall stone. (this can be either your opponents OR yours) The capstones also count as a part of your road, which adds yet another layer of tactical flexibility to the game.

In this photo, white completed their road from North to South, black did try to use thier standing stones to block, forcing white to adust their plans.

 

This photo is an example of a “stack”.  Black currently has control of this stack, as there is a black piece on top. Black can now move this stack in any direction as long as they leave at least one piece in each space the stack moves through.

There is a quote from the novel “The Wise Man’s Fear”: “Breton beat me handily in all five games we played, but I am proud to say that he never beat me the same way twice.” This perfectly encapsulates my experiences with this game. I have won a bunch, and I have lost a bunch, but I have never done so the same way twice. It is equally important to be able to read your opponent as well as the game board. You have to remain four to five steps ahead of yourself, and maintainin your ability to shift plans on a moments notice. It is a deceptively deep game, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you are so inclined head on over to www.thetinkerspacks.com and check the game out, you will find sets ranging from just a few bucks all the way up to $400.00 for the deluxe editions with exotic wood boards. I myself have the standard edition which retails for $55.00, along with the super portable set consisting of the Tavern Pieces ($25.00) and the cloth game mat ($9.00) . This version easily fits in a pocket or backpack, so you can take it on the go. All of the proceeds go to Mr. Rothfuss’ favorite charity Worldbuilders, so not only are you getting a top notch game, but you are helping people as well!!! It’s a win win!!!

Until Next Time Everyone!!!

Keep Gaming,

Lou

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