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Subject: Tichu - A Mini Review rss

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Dr. Dam
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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

Tichu was one of those games I have wanted to play for a long time. I have played Gang of Four for Years and the reports were that Tichu was better. Would I be disappointed....Tichu is a cracker of a card game with similarities to Gang of Four but they are very different games in the end.

The Tichu deck consists of 4 suits (castle, sword, star and gem) that have 1 card for each value ranging from 2 to Ace. The deck also offers a Phoenix, Dog, Dragon and Mahjonng, which has a value of 1. Tichu allows anywhere from 3-10 players but for me it plays best when using partners as the social interaction is highest. This review will comment on the 4-player partner’s game (6 is also possible).

Each player receives 14 cards and each player must give 1 card to each of the other 3 players. Once they have passed and received 3 cards the game can begin. The person holding the Mahjonng leads the first trick and can lead any of the following combinations; single card, pair, neighbouring pairs (5’s + 6’s + 7’s etc), trio (3 of a kind), full house or a straight of 5 cards or more. Once a lead is made the other players must in turn try to beat the combination played by playing the same number of cards in the required combination but of a higher value.

For example a 5 card straight 5-10 would be beaten by a 5 card straight of 6-Jack. A player can always choose to pass if they cannot or do not wish to beat the current combination. If 3 consecutive players pass the trick is one and that player can lead again.

Tichu is not exactly a trick taking game but is similar in that the players must match the number of cards played (instead of the suit played). However Tichu really rewards the player that goes out first. Unlike other games, play continues until all but 1 player have gone out. The last player with cards in hand must give them to the opposing team, whilst their won tricks go to the player that went out first. This could be their partner or one of the opposition. Every hand offers 100 points with Kings and 10’s scoring 10 points and 5’s scoring 5 points. All other cards have no value. The aim is to collect as many points as possible and the first team to reach 1000 is declared the winner although a game can be played to a smaller or larger total if desired.

Playing a Bomb is highly valuable as it allows a player to avoid following the number of cards lead. A bomb can be made with a straight flush (at least 5 long) or a 4 of a kind. A Phoenix (see below) cannot be used to make a Bomb.

The special cards are what really spice up the action.

The Dragon is the highest valued single card and is worth 25 points. It can only be played as a single and if the trick is won in this way, the winner of the trick must give it to one of their opponents. One way to get those points back will be to go out first and hope the person receiving the Dragon does not go out! There is a 2nd way and that is if your partner can play a Bomb on your Dragon.

The Phoenix can be played as a wild (2-Ace) if played in a combination of 2 or more cards. It is worth -25 points though so if you get it you may want to avoid going out to pass it off. If the Phoenix is played as a single it is worth a value of half more than the previously played single. If lead it is worth 1 and a half.

The Dog must be lead as a single to be played. The trick stops immediatly and the lead of the next trick transfers to the partner of the player who used the Dog. This can be an excellent play if your partner has called Small or Large Tichu (see below). There is also an element of risk however as the Dog has no value, so if you cannot gain the lead in order to play the Dog it may result in you not going out!

The Mahjonng is used to determine who leads the first trick in each hand although it does not have to be played in that lead. It can be used as a single or as part of a straight but it also has an added function. When played the owner can elect to nominate a card value from 2-Ace. The next player is forced to play this card in a combination if they can beat the prior lead. If they cannot they are free to play any other legal combination as usual but the forced requirement is passed on to the next player. In this way the forced play can pass several times or stay active into future tricks. Using this option can be a great way to force an opponent to break up a combination they were saving.

If all of this wasn't enough to consider then there is the matter of calling a 'Small' or Large 'Tichu'. A player can call a Small Tichu at any point during the hand before their first card is played. This call means that the player feels they will be the first player to go out. If they achieve this they will earn a bonus 100 points in addition to any points earned by cards in tricks. Failure will result in -100 points before the cards are scored.

Calling Large Tichu is making the same statement except the player stands to win or lose 200 points. The catch however is that the player must make the call based on their first 8 cards that they receive and not their full hand.

The final consideration is if both players from 1 team manage to go out before either opponent goes out. If this occurs the hand ends immediately and the winning team earns a flat 200 points. The cards are not used for scoring at all.

The Final Word

I find Tichu to be a wonderful game and will play it at every opportunity. For me Tichu is better than Gang of Four as I like additional complexity and the partnership play of Tichu offers an extra dimension. I also like the fact that Tichu allows a partnership to come back from a losing position with good card play. I'll be buying this at the first opportunity.
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Matthew M
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Neil Thomson wrote:
The Dog must be lead as a single to be played and regardless of who wins the trick, your partner will lead the next trick. This can be most useful if your partner needs to go out first (see below).


No. The Dog doesn't not start a round of singletons. It simply transfers the lead to your partner immediately, who is then free to play any type of combination she chooses.

-MMM
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Dr. Dam
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Thanks Octavian,

There was some confusion over the weekend on this one. Edit made.
 
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Matthew M
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
You should have seen how we butchered the first few playings of Tichu with nothing to go on but the printed rules. Not sure what it was, but sure wasn't Tichu we were playing

-MMM
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Sean Ross
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Neil Thomson wrote:
The last player with cards must then give all their won tricks and cards left in hand to the player that went out first.

The cards left in hand go to the opposing team; the tricks won go to the person who went out first.
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Dr. Dam
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Yes the written rules are anything but helpful.

Thanks Sean, correction made.
 
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Karl Schmit
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Octavian wrote:
You should have seen how we butchered the first few playings of Tichu with nothing to go on but the printed rules. Not sure what it was, but sure wasn't Tichu we were playing

-MMM

For us it was like this: "I play a 5 card straight, 3 to 8." "Oh yeah, I can beat that with this 8 card straight!" "Wow, nice."

Or, after reading that the phoenix is -25, passing it to your opponents because who wants -25 points?!

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Joe Stude
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Sheesh. I'm learning more and more that we were in the "we butchered it" camp. I knew we played the Dog incorrectly, but thought that was the extent of our miscues, until I realized after reading this review that the player who goes out last is supposed to turn over all his cards AND the tricks he's taken to the player who went out first. We did the former, but not the latter... ARRrrrrrr.
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Matthew M
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Jowjow wrote:
Sheesh. I'm learning more and more that we were in the "we butchered it" camp. I knew we played the Dog incorrectly, but thought that was the extent of our miscues, until I realized after reading this review that the player who goes out last is supposed to turn over all his cards AND the tricks he's taken to the player who went out first. We did the former, but not the latter... ARRrrrrrr.


Well, not quite. Cards in hand go to the opponents. Tricks taken go to the player who went out first. If your partner goes out first these will be different.

-MMM
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Joe Stude
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
But, don't the points for both cards and tricks just end up going to that partnership anyway?
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Matthew M
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Jowjow wrote:
But, don't the points for both cards and tricks just end up going to that partnership anyway?


?

If my partner goes out first and then our opponents go out 2-3, any cards I've won from previous rounds go to my partner, so our partnership scores them. My cards left in hand go to my opponents and they collect any points I'm still holding.

Contrast that with an opponent going out first - then the opposing partnership collects both the cards I've won and the cards remaining in my hand.

Cards left in hand will NEVER go to your partner. They always go to your opponents, even if your partner went out first.

-MMM
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Joe Stude
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Man, I don't think I've ever disliked rules included with a game more. I'm inclined to throw the ones that came with the game out and rewrite my own set from scratch.

Okay, to clarify:

My partner goes out first, opponents 2-3, me last: My partner scores all points earned in his tricks won, plus any tricks I took (because whoever goes out last always gives their tricks won to whoever goes out first?). The opposing team scores all their points from tricks taken plus any points from the cards I had in-hand (and this happens only because I went out last).

My partner goes out first, opponent 2, me 3, other opponent last: My partner and I both score points from our tricks won. In addition, we score points from the cards the opponent who went out last, because that opponent is giving those cards to my partner because he went out first.

Zat right?
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Dr. Dam
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
Yep I think that is about it.

Of course all of this can be ignored totally if both players on one team go out before either opponent as this scores a flat 200 (no cards are scored) although bonus points for small or large Tichu calls can still be added.

I love the game but the poorly written rules saw me make it down a point or two on my rating.
 
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Steve Blanding
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Re: Tichu - A Light Review
I've held off posting this for a while because I don't want to be accused of shilling my blog. So please don't flame me.
I agree that the printed rules absolutely stink. They try to be funny and instead end up confusing. The first time I tried Tichu it was a failure because nobody could grok the rules as written. That experience led me to rewrite the rules to make them more clear. Eventually I followed that up with a strategy article. You can find both on my blog at http://hfog.blogspot.com. (http://hfog.blogspot.com/2006/04/tichu-part-1-rules.html to be exact.)
Hopefully somebody here finds that helpful.
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