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Richard Reilly
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Bryan
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I must begin this review with a note about myself: I had the privilege of working with TAC’s designer on the English version of the rules, for which service I was rewarded with a special mahogany edition of the game (shown in several pictures that I’ve uploaded to the Geek). On the one hand, therefore, you may consider me biased; on the other, you may presume that I know the game quite well. I will try, of course, to be both honest and accurate.


TAC is a member of the Parcheesi family of games; most geeks will immediately recognize the similarities. As in Parcheesi, four players race their marbles from their starting corner around the board and into home. As in Dog and Sorry! (two other members of the family) movement is governed by cards instead of dice. There are special cards which allow actions other than simple movement, and some of these cards are similar to those in Dog and Sorry! (In all three games, for instance, the four allows movement backwards.).

But TAC should not be regarded as a rip-off of these other games. Rather, it develops them in such a way as to maximize the potential for planning, tactics, and player interaction: as a result, it is—I believe—the finest member of the family.

First of all, each player is part of a team—who sit on opposite sides of the board from one another—and the game is played in rounds. At the beginning of a round each player receives five cards. After announcing whether or not one can “open” (that is, move a marble onto the track), each player swaps a card with his/her partner, and then all players take turns playing one card at a time until all have played all five of their cards. Only then do players receive more cards, beginning a new round. Thus, while luck of the draw is an important factor, the game also allows considerable room for tactical planning within each round.

Normal movement is clockwise around the board. Marbles cannot pass other marbles, but if one marble lands on another by exact count, the other is knocked back to its corner pocket; thus players can block each other, but doing so is risky. Players MUST take an action if possible, thereby making self knock-outs a real possibility. Marbles are only safe from being knocked out when they are at home.

As said before, some of the cards are similar to those in Sorry! and Dog. But again, there are developments which increase a player’s freedom to make interesting tactical decisions. Consider, for instance, the seven: in Sorry!, the seven can be divided between two of a player’s pawns. In TAC, the seven can be divided into as many moves as the player wishes, between any number of marbles, as long as the total number moved adds up to exactly seven. The same marble may even be moved more than once, allowing a marble to move, knock-out another marble, then move again. Likewise, while in Sorry!the eleven (and in Dog, the Jack) can be used to swap a player’s marble with that of another player, the Trickser in TAC can be used to swap any two marbles on the track, regardless of who the marbles belong to.

TAC also includes a number of other special cards that are unlike anything in Sorry! or Dog:

The eight allows a player either to move or to cancel the next player’s turn.

The Jester requires each player to hand all of their cards to the player on their right.

The Angel requires a player to move a marble of the next player from their corner pocket to their entrance; or, if that is not possible, to move one of that player’s marbles forward 1 or 13 spaces.

The Warrior requires a player to move a marble forward any number of spaces and to knock out the first marble it comes to. If there are no other marbles on the track, the Warrior knocks out itself!

The Devil requires a player to make the next player’s move for them, using the latter’s own cards.

Most interesting are the TAC cards. A TAC allows a player to cancel the action of the previous player and then to steal one of the functions of that player’s card for the TAC player’s own move. This becomes particularly amusing when one TAC is played on another TAC, thereby causing the first TAC to be cancelled, the original player’s move to be reinstated, and the second TAC player to use the original player’s card for him/herself as well.

Two extra “wild cards” are also provided which players can use to invent special cards of their own.

The game doesn’t end until both members of a team have finished. When one member finishes, he/she continues to play, assisting his/her partner, as if the partner’s marbles now belonged to them both. This not only speeds up the end-game, but insures that no one will have to sit and wait while the others play.

I have left out many details, but hopefully you can see from what I’ve said that play of TAC is full of surprises.

The game’s components are quite nice: a large, heavy wooden board with a “flower of life” design printed on it, high quality playing cards, and sixteen marbles. The English rules are a model of clarity and precision. Several variations for 1-4 players are also described in the rules. (Most obviously, of course: players do not necessarily have to play in teams.) Special editions of the board and marbles—such as mine--are available to winners of tournaments and through yearly contests for the invention of new rules and special cards.

I think of TAC as falling into the category of “social games,” by which I mean games that are ideal for play while socializing with friends who may or may not be “gamers.” It is a game that I will take along when my wife and I spend an evening with another couple, for visits wherein gaming is not necessarily the main purpose. (Other games that I think of as suitable for this are Mah Jong and Rummikub; games that are not especially complex, move fast, and encourage lots of player interaction and chatter.) So far I have introduced the game to three other couples, and on all three occasions the game was a success. Two of the couples expressed interest in getting their own copy; those who recognized its similarity to Sorry! agreed that TAC was the better game.

As it is not overly complex, TAC is a game suitable for young and old, and therefore should be an ideal family game. It requires skill to play well, but is not a “brain-burner” that will bore casual players. It takes just an hour or so to play, and most importantly: it’s fun! I recommend it highly.


Post-Script: An American edition is in the works but has yet to be published, so if you want TAC now your best bet is to order it through Adam-Spielt. The game components are language-independent.


 
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Perry Rhodan
Angola
Connecticut
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Hello
Is there any way to obtain an online version of the instruction booklet that comes with the game? The guys from FantasyFlightGames do that with a lot of their games and that helps greatly to judge the quality of a game before buying.

regards.
 
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Richard Reilly
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I'll ask the game's publisher/designer if he would mind me doing that. I'll get back to you . . .
--Rich
 
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Perry Rhodan
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That would be really nice, thanks.
 
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Richard Reilly
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Perry, I'm sorry, but the publisher prefers that I not put the rules on-line at this time. However, you ought to be able to get a pretty good idea what the game is like from reading my review--although of course I'm not an objective judge, since I wrote the English version of the rules--and if you want to ask me any questions about the game, publicly or privately, feel free to do so.

--Rich
 
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