Sunday, 22 July 2012


Tschak! is a card game, published by GameWorks and designed by Dominique Ehrhard.  I have to admit up front that I am a fan of GameWorks, a company that produce some beautiful and well designed little family games (Animalia especially is one of my favourite little card games).  I am also a fan of Dominique Ehrhard - at least those games of his that I have played (Condottiere is a brilliant little card/board game).

Tschak! is an attractive game, with a small neat box, board and card art that is thematic, well done and amusing, and a general high quality of production.  All this is well and good, but it would amount to little if the game itself was uninteresting.

Tschak is an excellent little card game.  It plays quickly, and yet involves a good number of interesting choices throughout.  It is not a heavy game by any stretch of the imagination, it is light and very family friendly.  The backdrop to the players’ choices is that they are assaulting a keep in search of booty and treasures.  Players will have a hand of ten numbered cards from three suits, and on each of the three levels of the keep will play cards - abiding by the rule that each card played on a level must be of a different suit.  The levels mix up the way in which players choose and play their cards, and this introduces some interesting flavours into each level.  The long and short of it is that the player who plays the highest value set of cards on a level will earn the treasure, the player who plays the lowest will take the monster.  At games end, treasures are tallied, and monsters subtract from this total - highest score wins.

All this sounds very simple, but there are some subtle twists introduced in the ways in which the players play their cards on each level.  There are also some player cards that add interest - the chameleon wizards (aside from looking neat) add a layer of bluff and uncertainty, the artifact cards also add a twist to the way the cards played are counted - with each hand including 1 artifact.  When to the play which cards and what you expect others will play is the key.

The 'Wizard' suit, including the neat looking Chameleons!
There are treasure and monster cards that also add a twist to the game - and while none of these subtle additions add much individually to the complexity of the game, the whole is a great deal more than the sum of its parts.  One of the things that is perhaps most interesting is that once a round is done (ie: each level of the keep defeated), players pass their cards to the player next to them - and so, over the four rounds of the game players will have played the cards they were dealt, as well as the hands of cards dealt to every other player.

Altogether Tschak! is a game with simple and easy to grasp rules, but which has enough subtle twists here and there to make the choices involved interesting.  Players will be watching what each other are doing, wondering when *that* card you know is an opponents hand will come out, wondering whether they should try for each treasure or aim for one, whether they should focus on taking treasures or avoiding monsters.

Tschak! is an enjoyable game, it is lucky, but there are choices, it is simple, but there are twists.  Tschak! plays quickly, and with its mixture of lightness and subtlety, doesn’t feel as if it takes too long.  It’s just the sort of game that is easy to get off the shelf and play when you only have so much time, or are in-between heaftier offerings.

The back of the board!


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