Tak: A Beautiful Game

"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

Tak is a new 2-player strategy game invented by James Ernest and Patrick Rothfuss. It was introduced in Patrick Rothfuss' book The Wise Man's Fear, Day 2 of the Kingkiller Chronicle. 

Tak is a pure abstract game in the same family as chess, go, and mancala. Our goal was to design a new game with a sense of history; a beautiful game with simple rules and deep strategy. And we can't wait to share it with you!

Tak uses a square board, which can be any size from 3x3 up to 8x8, but the most common sizes are 5x5 and 6x6 (the "Tavern" and "Classic" games).

Each player has several matching pieces, or "stones," and one special piece called the "Capstone." The Capstone can be any shape, and the other pieces should be simple, stackable pieces in a matching style.

The board starts empty, and the goal is to build a road (a connected string of your pieces) connecting opposite sides of the board.

On each turn, you will either place a piece in an empty space, or move a stack that you control. Stacks must move in a straight line, dropping pieces as they go, and possibly covering other pieces along the way.

You can play a piece upright. This piece is called a "standing stone," or "wall." It can't be part of a road, but other pieces can't stack on top of it. 

The Capstone is your power piece. It can be part of a road, it can't be stacked on, and it can also flatten standing stones.

You can read the complete rules at our Tak information page. You can also watch Patrick and James discuss the development of the game (and watch them play) in this great video from Emerald City Comic Con. 

Right now these offerings are pretty basic, but please check back soon, because we are working on some really cool stuff. (Note: None of the designs for art, game pieces, or boards, are final.)

Patron: If you'd just like to help out, you can contribute $5 at the Patron level. This level grants you access to our pledge manager, where you can add individual items to your pledge.

Student: At the $15 level, you'll receive the hardcover Tak companion book, tentatively titled Tak: A Beautiful Game. This book will be written by James Ernest and Patrick Rothfuss and illustrated by Nate Taylor. Included in the book are game rules, strategy hints, a 5x5 game board on the back cover, and a description of Tak's history in Temerant.

Tak is an ancient and well-traveled game, with many variations and styles of play. The book will touch on the game's origins, and will explain the ancestry and meaning of various types of pieces. It will contain an expanded rules section describing regional game variations, as well as strategy hints and terms for various plays and combinations. 

As our first stretch goal, we have added the complete rules to a Tak precursor game, "Kaen," to this book. Our costs get better when we make more copies. So please stay tuned to see what else we can add!

Mercenary: At the $25 level, you will receive the Tavern Set, a compact set of 44 wooden pieces, which is enough for a 5x5 game. The Tavern Set is designed for portability, and includes a drawstring bag. The Mercenary level will also include a one-page rules sheet, but no board.

Trouper: At the $40 level, you will receive both the Tavern Set and companion book. Because the book contains the rules, and has a 5x5 board on the back, this level contains everything you need to play.

The Tavern Set is based on the Tak sets you'd find in a traveler's pack. The pieces are made of white birch, stained with a natural and walnut finish. They measure approximately 20mm square and 8mm thick, with 25mm turned wood capstones. It comes with a simple drawstring bag, with just enough extra room for a few coins to pay your tab.  

The Tavern Set fits in a large pocket or small purse. If you back at the Mercenary level, which does not come with a board, it's easy to print or draw one. Or you can just play without a board, by marking the center space with a coin.

Merchant: At the $55 level, you'll receive the Classic Set: 62 wooden pieces, a full-sized 6x6 game board, and the complete game rules.

We called this level the "Merchant," in part, because this is exactly the version that will be offered to retail stores.

Innkeeper: At the $65 level, you'll receive the Classic Set and the companion book.

The Classic Set contains a mix of two common piece shapes: the "Merchant" or "Miter" set (trapezoids) and the "Cane" or "Court" set (flat-bottomed circles.)

The pieces in the Classic Set are crafted from white birch and stained with natural and walnut finishes. They measure about 25mm high, 30mm wide, and 11mm thick. The capstones will be a matching set, approximately 35mm high.

The board in the Classic Set will be a 10" square 6x6 "hybrid" game board, which is a unique design with diamonds and squares that can be used for any size game between 3x3 and 6x6. The board will be a single non-folding piece, printed in full color on an 80 pt board with a linen finish wrapper. In other words, a very nice board.

Tinker's Pack: At the $90 level, you'll receive everything described above: the Classic Set, the companion book, and the Tavern Set. We will also include a handsome Tak collector coin, described below. This is our "all the basics" level, at a great price.

About the Coin: Cheapass Games makes a new collector coin with each Kickstarter campaign. They are usually round, but this coin will be a 32mm square, with a Tak motif (see the early sketch above). This coin is ideal as a centerpiece, allowing you to play Tak without a board!

The coin will also be pierced in one corner, so you can add a jump ring and make it into a pendant or keychain. Like all our collector coins, this one will be made by our friends at Campaign Coins.

And Coming Soon: We are working on some very special Tak sets and accessories, which we hope to be able to announce during the campaign. Bids and samples are still coming in, and we will let you know as soon as these plans are solid. Our wish list includes:

None of these items are final, so please keep checking back as we wrestle with all the elves and goblins who make things.

If you'd like to add any of the following items to your pledge, you can do so by increasing your pledge amount, or you can upgrade through our pledge manager after the campaign is over.

The items currently available as add-ons are: 

We hope to add more cool stuff as the campaign proceeds. Be sure to check back for updates and new items.

Note that none of these add-on prices include shipping, because that cost will depend on where you are located, and what else is in your order. If we need to collect additional shipping, we can do it through the pledge manager.

After an amazing Day 1, it was hard to set a stretch goal that we hadn't already hit. Here are a couple of upgrades we've made to the campaign so far:

Upgrade 1: Turned wood capstones in the Tavern Set. These were originally planned as simple cubes, but at 1200 sets it was worth the extra bump to add a more traditional turned capstone to the Tavern Set. Not really a stretch goal, but an upgrade for day 2.

Stretch Goal 1: Rules for a Tak precursor game in the companion book. We've added "Kaen" to our table of contents for the book, an ancient gambling game that uses many of the same pieces from Tak. This is a new game by James Ernest and Patrick Rothfuss, unlocked at 2500 backers.

Want to learn more? Here are some further resources for learning about Tak.

Patrick Rothfuss' Home Page: Are you new to the Kingkiller Chronicle and all things Rothfuss? Learn all about the man and his work here.

James Ernest's Tumblr Blog: Get an inside look at the Tak design process and learn about James' many other projects

The Tak Info Page at Read more about the game, download the beta rules, and even print your own game board.

James and Patrick at ECCC: In case you missed the link above, you really should watch these two characters talk about their game. This is the full video from their panel at Emerald City Comic Con.

The reviews are in, and Tak is proving to be a hit! Check back often for additional testimonials.

"The game is easy enough for a Child Geek to quickly learn and complex enough to keep a Gamer Geek engaged. Tak evolves as the players take their turns. A single move can have enough impact to be felt for several rounds. And yet, a player is not fully aware of how their move influences the game until later. Again, the game evolves, opens, and changes organically, responding to each new piece is surprising ways." -Cyrus Kirby, Father Geek

"I’ve only played a dozen or so games of Tak so far, but I really enjoy it. The rules are simple to learn, however, I see the game as a new classic that will take some time to master. I am really looking forward to challenging friends... I’ve only had Tak on my table for a few days, but it’s already become a bit of an obsession." -Dave Banks, GeekDad

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