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Subject: There can be only one!!!! No...wait....that's a different game rss

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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
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Howell
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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Scotland and Reiner Knizia, what could be better? I love kilts, I love Scottish accents, and I love Highlander. Combine that with my man-crush on the genius of Dr. Knizia and you've got the makings of a torrid love affair. To be honest, Schotten Totten doesn't have crap to do with Scotland. Sure there are kilt-wearing Scotsmen on the cards, but it doesn't have jack to do with the game itself. Nope, all you've got here is a game of numbers on cards with some little wooden bits in between. Can Reiner Knizia make gaming gold out of something so simple or is it just a load of rotten haggis?


Rules

9 boundary stones are placed in a row between the players. There's also a deck of 54 cards which is composed of 1-9 in six colors. Each player gets 7 to start. On your turn, you claim a stone if possible, play a card, and draw a card.

To claim a stone, you need to be able to prove that your 3 card hand at that stone is better than what's on your opponents side, based solely on the cards already in play.

The first person to win 5 stones or to win any 3 adjacent stones is the winner.

If you want to read a great translation, please check out this one by zefquaavius.


Components

I have no idea what the cards are like in an actual copy of Schotten Totten. I don't own it. I own a copy of Battle Line which works the same way after you remove the 10's and all the Tactics cards. I've even played Schotten Totten with a Rage deck. There you have it, 2 great options which give you more than one game in a box.


Gameplay

I already told you all you need to know about gameplay. Claim a stone if possible, play a card, draw a card, pass the turn. That's it. The basic mechanisms of the game are so simple that smart dogs can handle it. At this point, you may be asking yourself "Where's the game?" and I don't blame you. How can something so simple produce such incredible results?

If I had to describe Schotten Totten in one word it would be "angst". Angst is what makes this rediculously simple concept so damn good. From the time you draw your first cards until you claim your last stone, every second is filled with doubt, second-guessing, and fear. Will I draw the card I need? If I push at this stone, can my opponent beat me? He needs just one more card, what are the odds of drawing it? If he does this, then I'll do that which means he'll probably do this....and so on and so forth. It's a game of doubt and prayer to the gaming gods. It's also a game of "Clearly I can't choose the wine in front of me" as you always have the feeling that if you overextend or take a chance you'll get stuck. Like I said, doubt, fear, and second-guessing.

The above paragraph reads like the game is mostly luck driven. While luck certainly plays a part in ST, I think skill is more important. A good player will win far more often than a new player. Sure, luck will sometimes give the new player an odd win, but the percentage is probably close to 70% and 30% luck. I can live with getting lucky or bad breaks. It is a card game after all and luck is inherent in the design.

So how do you overcome this luck factor? The key is to stay flexible whenever possible. Don't commit unless you are 95% sure you'll get the stone. You have to keep your options open and in doing so, you keep the luck factor down. There will likely come a few points when you'll need to draw certain cards, but if you play wisely you can minimize those times.

Another great tactic in this game is bluffing. Most often you'll see someone feint a strong card to a key area and then just move away from it, hoping to come back and finish the set. This can cause your opponent to go crazy trying to beat your hypothetical cards. Just like above, how far do you extend yourself? Also, I like to play 2 cards into a stone and hold the other one as long as possible. It puts some doubt into your opponents mind as to what you may be planning. More doubt, more angst, more second-guessing, more enjoyment.


Compare it to...

ST is kind of like playing 9 hands of 3-card poker at one time, but its even harder.


Overall

If you can't tell, I love this game. It's really quite easy to teach and play, but incredibly difficult at the same time. If you like angst and deep gameplay from incredibly simple rules then this is a perfect choice.

I rate Schotten Totten an 8/10. It doesn't get a perfect 10 because I'd say it's a bit too simple sometimes. Also, the luck factor can really hurt you on occassion so it loses a point for that. But overall, I can't think of many other games that offer such deep gameplay from a simple ruleset.

Need a good 2-player game that's easy to teach and plays in about 20 minutes? This is the one to buy. Some folks might say it's confrontational and I'd agree, but it's not the kind where you mess with the other person's stuff. You're just trying to do better on your side. If the $16 price tag is too much just buy a Rage deck for $5 at WalMart.
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Michael J
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The luck in this game is far lower than it appears to a new player. With good play, you can reduce the luck dramatically. Yes, there will be times you have to take a chance on a stone, but keeping those guesses to a minimum is critical, as is recognizing which stones your opponent is grasping for. Putting your better hands together is important too so that you can win a few in a row. Yes, luck is involved. Yes, there is lots of angst. But there is a lot of skill involved as well. It's a great game!
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If it falls on me and pins me underneath it, does that still count as seizing the day?
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I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am.
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I recently acquired a French copy of Schotten-Totten for my collection of Scottish-themed games. I've been wondering how it plays, thinking I should at least try it before it goes on permanent display. You've given me the incentive to give it a whirl, so Thanks!
 
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Mark M
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Thanks for renewing my interest in this game. I had Battle Line briefly but didn't like the card stock or the specialty cards - just never got around to playing. Like the sound of this simplified (original) version better. You could also play this with the deck from Parade, which is a great little game we've just discovered. Maybe its a better game than Rage, which I have never played.
 
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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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If you didn't like the Tactics cards in Battle Line then play without them. I've only played with the Tactics cards a handful of time and I prefer it without, aka Schotten Totten.

You could certainly use a Parade deck. I'm fairly certain Parade was created using a Rage or Sticheln deck so those are choices as well. If you own any of those games you have a ton of other games you can play with them.
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Are you aware of the dangers foxes pose to you and
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I recently thrifted a copy of Trumpet primarily so I could play S-T. Of course, then I had to go and design a game of my own using the components. And I'm still waiting for anyone to take the time to play either.
 
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