Players who love new and interesting card games will love Tichu. It is simple to learn: one need only get rid of his cards. The basic game is played by two pairs of two partners each with the players of each team sitting opposite one another. During the game, the partners try to help each other score points and opportunities to lead. The game is played over several hands with the goal to be the first team to score a total of 1000 points.Although Tichu is primarily a partnership game for four, with the two packs of cards, Tichu is well suited for large groups, too.

User Reviews (15)

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2
Gamer - Level 2
10
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“My Favourite Game of All Time”

Tichu is a climbing card game (in the same family as “President” or “Asshole”) descended from Zheng Fen with a few less combinations and different “bombs” but with partnerships, card passing, four special cards, and extra scoring. And, while the card play and scoring of the parent game are sufficiently and tactically interesting in their own right, each of these additions, in their way, serve to increase the number of decision points and, consequently, the feelings of tension you will have throughout the game. Amongst these, however, partnerships are the linch-pin; each of the others ties back to this in some way.

Partnership play, by its nature, increases poignancy as you and your partner’s fate become inextricably bound and you worry from beginning to end whether it will be your decisions that cost you both the hand; or, worse, the game. Almost all of your decisions are tempered by this consideration; not only how this choice will affect yourself, but of how it will affect your partner. And it begins even before all the cards are dealt, when you are offered the opportunity to gamble, on behalf of you and your partner no less, on whether you will be the first player to void their hand (i.e. call “Tichu”). It continues into the decision over which card should be passed to which player and what signal you wish to convey to your partner about the strength or weakness of your hand. Are you positive you want to pass them the Dog and help yourself but also risk destroying what might otherwise have been an overwhelmingly strong Tichu hand for your partner? Perhaps you should keep the Dog and pass that Dragon of yours over to your partner instead? This constant pressure, however, also serves to magnify the burst of relief or joy you will feel at the end of an especially well played hand. The scoring, in particular, is excellently engineered to sustain tension and drive players to shed cards throughout the hand. It is also tied into, and re-enforcing of, the partnership aspect of the game.

Regardless of whether or not Tichu has been called, having one member of your team go out first will always be paramount. The benefits for this include the obvious potential for making (or stopping) a Tichu bid and scoring any point cards collected in the tricks of the player who went out last, but, perhaps most importantly, it also sets your team up for the possibility of going out first and second (or, “getting a Slam”). Because of this threat, after one player has gone out the pressure to shed cards remains wonderfully undiminished as you must now concentrate on going out second to either make or stop a Slam as this can result in a huge two to four (if Grand Tichu was bid) hundred point swing in fortunes for one team or the other. And, finally, while the pressure does ease off when you get down to the last two players, the scoring incentives available for not losing the point cards you’ve collected in tricks still continue the drive to shed cards until the bitter end. All of these objectives combine to help make even a poor hand feel somehow worthwhile as you can gear your efforts to supporting the team, be it ever so humble or cruel a contribution as to hold the Phoenix in your hand as you deliberately go out last!

And, so, to end this rather lengthy comment, I will say that after over 3 years of collecting and researching games, and after several thousand dollars invested so far, I am surprised yet delighted to find that the game I like most – far more than any other game – is one that can be played with a barely modified standard deck of cards! Heck, I’d be happy if this was the only game I owned – I like it that much. If I had gained nothing else from my time exploring the world of board games, it would have been worth it just to be aware of this game’s existence.

May 30, 2009: Got the mythical 14 card straight!

 
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3
Gamer - Level 3
Critic - Level 2
Sophomore
10
56 of 63 gamers found this helpful
“Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master”

I’m going to go against the Master himself here (Mr. Sean “Haggis” Ross) and say that Tichu, as a whole, is easy to learn. Other than the scoring and some of the special cards (“The phoenix is worth what when played alone?”), Tichu plays like many of the games played in high school cafeterias the country over.

What makes it hard to master, and eminently replayable, is the level of thinking required to play it with skill. There’s playing Tichu, and then there’s playing Tichu. Knowing not to Bomb your partner’s Ace is probably a no-brainer, but there are times when you might want to.

And this is what really makes Tichu amongst the royalty of all card games – that all plays are conditional. There is, for the most part, no right or wrong in Tichu – there are only consequences; consequences that are based on the cards in the *other* players’ hands. There is a “best” way to play, but that can all go out the window with a Bomb.

Note: I highly recommend playing this only as a 4-player partner game. All the other variants of the game that come in the ruleset pale in comparison. 6-player Tichu, for example, is too chaotic to feel like you have any control. Bombs are the norm when they should be the rarest of the rare.

Highly recommended. But why are you reading my review when you should be reading Sean’s?

He plays Tichu.

Like a boss.

 
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10
Gamer - Level 8
Explorer - Level 5
Critic - Level 3
Junior
10
56 of 63 gamers found this helpful
“Just a regular deck of cards, right...”

At first Tichu may appear as just a regular deck of cards, but with 4 special cards added and thus appearing similar to a lot of traditional card games. However, Tichu isn’t first and foremost a trick taking game, but rather a partner climbing game with the goal of being the first team to reach 1000 points with each hand having a basic 100 points to fight over. Each King and Ten will score 10 points while a 5 is worth 5 points so these are the cards you want. Sounds simple? It really isn’t.

There are several twists and turns in Tichu and one of the strangest is the part that each player will pass one card to each other player after drawing 14 cards. A chance to get rid of low singletons and maximize the value of one hand on a team, but so it is for the other team.

Then there are the 4 special cards:

Mah Jong: Value 1 and the player with this card will start the hand and may play it as a singleton or as a straight. Heck, you may even choose not to start with it, but what is fun with it is that you may make a wish for a card and the second player has to play this card if possible which may ruin an otherwise great hand.

Dragon: The highest singleton in the game and can only be played as a single. Is worth 25 points but if you win the trick you’ll have to give that trick to one of your opponents.

Phoenix: Strongest card in the game and that is why it is worth -25 points. It’s a joker for any basic card in the game to help you build up a legal combination and played as a single is worth 0,5 higher than the previous card.

Dog: Cannot be played on anything than an empty board and simply put gives the lead to your partner instead.

The lead you say? If you’ve got the lead there are several legal combinations you can play. Single card, a pair, three of a kind, straight (minimum 5 cards long), full house and consecutive pairs (3-3, 4-4, 5-5 etc.) are all legal plays and also guides what the other may play on that specific trick. If everyone passes around you win the trick and can start a new lead but beware, a player who passed earlier in a trick may reenter. This goes on until all but 1 player has gotten rid of their cards and points are calculated, but first the last player has to give all his remaining cards in hand to the other team and all his tricks to the first player out, which may just as well be his teammate.

Then, of course, there is the Tichu and Grand Tichu calls. A player may call Tichu before playing his first card which is a basically a bet that the player will go out first and is worth 100 points if done and -100 if not. A Grand Tichu is the same but a call you have to make before you pick up your ninth card and is worth 200/-200 points. Another way of scoring 200 points is simply you and your partner going out first and second.

Aaaand finally, I might mention the bombs. Either 4 of a kind or a straight flush of 5+ cards that can be played on anything and at any time, is the final rabbit out of the hat. Bombs are often a key element of breaking Tichu with their surprising appearance.

Tichu may not be a very tough game to explain but getting a good understanding of the game will take a lot of games. The more I play it, the deeper it gets and there really is no solution on how to play as it may differ from person to person. I think I must be close to 300 plays now (games not hands) with probably 95% with the same 3 friends and I doubt neither I nor the other 3 will ever grow tired of this game. It’s pretty darn close to the perfect game for me.

 
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3
Gamer - Level 3
8
89 of 102 gamers found this helpful
“Get three good friends and gather 'round...”

I’ve played more Tichu than any other game I own. The feeling you get as you begin to learn what moves to make at what times is exhilarating. If you can find 3 people to consistently play with, that makes it even better. There’s a lot of luck to Tichu, it’s true, but I think most of the strategy is kind of under the surface because it lies in your connection to your partner. Once you and a partner can learn each other’s play style, you can really start to put things together and it makes the game much more rewarding. I’ve been playing Tichu for about 6 months a couple of times a week with the same teams and though we’re starting to phase it out, it’s easily one of my favorite games. I will say this: this is not a game that’s easy to pick up and learn it on the spot. Your first couple games are going to take a while and they’re going to be mostly learning the play of the game. Once you get there, though, you and 3 friends are going to have a great time.

On a side note, the rule book includes rules for a six player variant on the main game and then a 5 to 8 player variant that’s pretty different because you’re not playing on a team. While I haven’t played the 6 player variant, my group has found the 5-8 player variant to be a lot of fun from time to time. Basically, there’s a hierarchy of players and it’s very hard to move from the bottom to the top because the bottom player must give the top player their best cards. So, it’s brutal, but fun. Especially if you play like we do and make the bottom player (the wretch) sit on their knees at the table while the top player (the king) sits in the arm chair. And our king has a little bell and orders the wretch to fetch tea for the table.

***Just FYI, the Tichu cards seem to wear out quickly. We’re still using the same deck that we started with, but it’s a little sticky and flimsy now. For like $10 online though, it’s not that big of a deal to buy a new deck when the time comes.

 
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8
Plaid Hat Games fan
Cave Goblins - Summoner Wars
I Am What I Am
10
89 of 103 gamers found this helpful
“Perfect 4-Player Lunch Game”

Tichu is a ladder-style trick taking card game played with partners (two teams). The goal of the game is 1000 points (although for a lunch game, maybe play to 500). How do you get points? All 5s are worth 5 points, 10s and Kings are worth 10 points, the Dragon is worth 25 points, and the Phoenix is -25 points. You can always call a Tichu (you’re betting 100 points that you can get rid of all of your cards first) or Grand Tichu (a bet of 200 points that with limited information, you can be the first player to play all of their cards).

What’s great about Tichu is that there are many ways to screw over your opponents or take control of a hand that nobody saw coming with a bomb (four of a kind: four 8s for example OR a straight-flush: at least five cards of the same suit in a row – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Tichu is a game about hight stress and wild swings of emotion, so lots of cheering or loud groans, depending on what just happened. This is one of those games that can sweep through an office and soon everyone is playing.

Sound complicated yet? That’s why I rated this game 3 Stars on Easy to Learn… but once people pick up on the rules (which generally takes a game or two), then there is a deeper game right below the surface.

 
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1
Reviewed My First Game
10
55 of 70 gamers found this helpful
“Great game, but be patient with new non-gamer players”

I grew up loving Spades and Hearts. Some of my fondest memories are sitting at a table with family and friends and playing card games. When I first read about Tichu, it seemed like everything I could ever want in a card game. Strategic decisions, partner and opponent reading, multiple choices to make with your hand. You have to really think when playing. Playing games like Spades, or Rummy, I would always go on auto-pilot, and make the optimal choice. Tichu isn’t that simple. Non-gamers, if familiar with more traditional card games, have to really think the first time you go to teach them. This may put some people off, but be patient, and encourage them to keep trying. It will “click” with them, it’s just going to take a few hands to do so.

 
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3
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Novice Reviewer
7
54 of 71 gamers found this helpful
“Euchre to the next level.”

As a long time fan of Euchre, when I was first treated to this game several years ago, I found myself instantly in love. Team-based trick taking with a few unique cards thrown in.

Each copy of the came actually includes two complete decks for play. While there are rules to play with more than four, I can only recommend it with four. This restriction shares the same downfall with four. I rarely have a gaming group of exactly 4, making it very hard to get to the table.

However, if you like Euchre, and have a game group of the right size, this is a sure hit. The polish of this game is undeniable.

 
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1
 
55 of 76 gamers found this helpful
“best 4 player game i know”

when i first played tichu , i was astonished how a simple deck of cards with 4 extra cards (dog, dragon, mahjong and fenix) and reasonable easy rules to learn ,how i got hooked by that game.
i just love this game . it’s so intense and always depending on the player who’s on turn to determine what or how the next hand will be played .. a single card ?…a trio? … and the addition as the ‘cherry on the the cake’ is the invention of the ‘bombs’ …. i just love it … let’s say i give it a 11/10 ( i want to give ‘njet’ a 10/10 that’s why :-))
also playable on brettspielwelt.de for those who haven’t 4 enthousiastics in the house :-))

 
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9
9
77 of 116 gamers found this helpful
“Everything I hate , but I love the game”

Before I got married I didn’t play card or board games. The only game in my family was dominoes. I have come to like a few boardgames and a lot of German card games. I don’t like partner card games and I don’t like having to try to figure out ahead of time exactly how my hand will best play out(usually a bidding game). Tichu has both of these elements and so I should hate it. However, it is one of my favorite games. While I will never call for a Tichu I think that I like it because the goal is to get rid of your cards as quickly as possible, your partner can help you out more than in most partner games I’ve played and if nothing else you can usually really mess with one or more of your opponents each round. Additionally, given the normal scores of a round (100 pts. without bonuses) and the goal is 1000 points a bad play on one round does not knock your team out of the game.

 
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1
9
54 of 99 gamers found this helpful
“Its fun, challenging, and you get to play with a partner”

I don’t lean toward card games, but I’m very glad I took the time to learn this one. After my first game, I got the App so I could get up to speed, since most players I encounter are already quite good. Play is quite straight forward, but there are a few fiddly rules and conventions you need to remember.

 
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2
8
54 of 108 gamers found this helpful
“A solid card game”

Very much like playing the card game 500. It’s relatively simple to play and gets pretty competitive (depending on your teammate)
It can last for quite a long time considering the goal is to get to 1000 points. Saying that, if you get really lucky it can take 30mins or so.
Someone mentioned it being mostly about luck, but most card games are like that, no? For any people who want a new card game to add to the mix, this is your game.

 
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3
I Am What I Am
6
54 of 116 gamers found this helpful
“Hmmm too much luck ?”

I have played this game for years (and still do) but after a certain point i got the feeling that this game is all about luck.
Its nice that you play with a partner but all comes down on what cards you (and your partner) have.
Now im playing only to kill some time nothing “fun” or engaging any more for me at it.

 
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1
Reviewed My First Game
10
54 of 133 gamers found this helpful
“Best card game for four players”

I’ll play this game anytime, anywhere. ’nuff said.

 
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8
Count / Countess
Senior
Went to Gen Con 2012
I play black
5
54 of 144 gamers found this helpful
“Gang of Four is easier and more fun”

I realize that Gang of Four is based on Tichu, but for my money, Gang of Four is much more fun to play. The decks are very similar, but the rules for Go4 are much simpler and straightforward. Tichu is more complicated, but not in the interesting, adds-to-the-fun way.

 
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2
Gamer - Level 1
9
54 of 160 gamers found this helpful
“Amazing”

Such a fun game with a group of friends

 

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