Monday, March 21, 2016


Our well used set
Tichu is a partnership game, so it is key to have a good rapport with your partner.  For instance, my aggressive style works well with my wife’s conservatism.  With partners I consider rivals, it is a little trickier.  It is difficult to properly celebrate their Tichu getting thwarted when they are on my team.  I mean I will still do so, but it is a challenge.




Urs Hostettler

Elevator Pitch:

Tichu is a partnership card game that uses a themed deck of cards plus 4 special cards.  A player leads with a legal play such as a single card or a full house, and all subsequent cards played that round must be of the same card grouping but higher.  The main goal is to ensure you and/or your partner empty your hand first, particularly when you made a bet called Tichu that you will do so.

Personal Impression:

Tichu is a solid 9 for me.  I have fond memories of playing cards growing, and Tichu is comfortably the best card game I’ve ever played.  I have played hundreds of hands and still find the decisions fascinating.   What should I pass?  Is this a Tichu hand?  Do I break up my straight to play consecutive pairs?  Do I save my best cards or sell out my hand to stop an opponent now?  It is type of game that can be as fun to postmortem as to play.  I have plenty of stories that will have you shaking your heads as soon as you know what it means, like when I wished away my partners ace bomb.  The only issue I have with Tichu is that I know several people, including one that chose to marry me, who rate it a 10+.  People who, if we have 4 people, always want to play Tichu, and if we have some number other than 4 want to know how to get to 4.  So while I quite like Tichu, you might see a pained look upon my face after we hit the three hour mark, and there is a chorus around me saying “let’s go again.”

Good for People who Grew up Playing:

General card games with a standard deck of cards. 
Ease of Learning:

If you are with someone who hasn’t played many card games, then Tichu is probably too complex for them to pick up quickly, and I would try something else.  However, for card players, particularly ones who have played climbing and/or trick taking games, a lot of the gameplay will feel natural.  There will still be a lot to learn, and they likely will have questions throughout the first play session, but they will probably enjoy the process.  I have taught this game to many players who were eager to try again shortly thereafter.

Fidgety Index

It comes with two decks so you can constantly shuffle the deck not in use if you want.   

Universal Theme:

Takes a traditional 52 card deck, and changes the suits to stars, jade, pagodas and swords to try for a culturally Chinese feel, but it’s fairly irrelevant.

Player Count and Length:

Strictly 4 players.  There are variants for some other numbers, but they aren't worth playing.  Game length depends on what score to which you want to play.  We tend to play to a thousand points, which can take a couple of hours depending on how successful Tichu calls are.  You can play to any number though, and it is easy to put away and pick back up.



Spin Offs:

Gang of Four: Is a similar enough game that some people refuse to play it and Tichu to avoid confusion.  I personally find it terrible, I despise the mechanic that punishes you for losing and the non-linear scoring that screws you on a bad hand, but your mileage may vary.

Haggis: is billed as a Tichu game that works for 2 or 3.  It is more tactical than Tichu as special cards mean every play has bombs every turn, so the question is when to use them.  I found the game less strategic though and it failed to scratch the Tichu itch for me.  

Introducing the Game to New Gamers: 

Partner new players with experienced ones.  Try to match a passive player with an aggressive one as well.  Consider playing a hand or two open-handed and without scoring.


There is a decent app .  The ai is a little weak on normal levels.  It gets harder on more difficult levels, but does it by cheating (knowing your cards), which can be frustrating.  Your ai partner, Becky, will likewise drive you crazy.  Works reasonably well on local internet with multiple devises although the connection gives out too often.  There is also an app that we always use to keep track of the scores of real live games.


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