Tak Strategy Game in Lego!

[Update 4/21/16: Added download link to LDraw MPD file of the Lego 5×5 hybrid Tak board and pieces model.]

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick RothfussOne of the books I’m currently reading is The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, which is the second book in the fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicles. While reading this excellent book, there are a number of scenes that describe the main character learning a strategy game called Tak that uses a board and stones. It’s sounds like a mixture of the abstract strategy games of Go and Mancala with some special pieces such as the strategy game of Chess, and ways of placing the stones that gives them different powers as the game of Checkers.

Well, today Rothfuss announced that the game designer James Ernest had designed an actual game using the brief descriptions given in the book. What’s more they were running a Kickstarter campaign to polish and produce special versions of the game for its supporters. There is a video showing the game being played, and it really is a sweet piece of work. The basics of the game are a snap to learn, yet it has a ton of strategy, looks fun, and is kind of beautiful in the way it starts, builds and can shift from one area of the board to another. You can play it yourself online at PlayTak.com.

But what really excited me is that they are offering the beta rules and some Tak board & piece designs for free on the Cheap Ass Games website! As mentioned the basics of the game are incredibly simple and a snap to learn. Really all you are trying to do is build a road from one side of the board to another. Each turn all you can do is place a piece on an empty space on the board or move a piece or stack of pieces that you own already on the board. The strategy that is possible from these simple choices however is quite dynamic and complex. I suspect I will be a long time learning the game’s ins & outs, for while I really enjoy strategy games, I’m honestly not all that good at them… I don’t think far enough ahead.

I may well support the game designers and back the project to get one of the simple sets, but what interests me most is building my own. Ultimately I would like to make my own fancy wooden set, but the first thing that dawned on me was how really anything could be used to make the pieces, and the board can be simply marks on a table or piece of paper. One could make their board and pieces out of say… LEGO!

Lego 5x5 Hybrid Tak Game Board & Pieces
Lego 5×5 Hybrid Tak Game Board & Pieces

Realizing this I immediately had to break out the old LDraw tools and design not just the pieces, but a matching lego board. It had been a long time since I messed with any of these programs. Also I tried to design it with an eye to the lego parts I knew I had enough of and in what colors I had them in. As a result the design and color scheme are not what I would prefer, but I know I can build this with what I currently have on hand.

So without further ado, here is my attempt at building a Lego 5×5 Hybrid Tak board and pieces. There is a problem I have yet to figure out with the zoom level on my instructions PDF but while it is far from perfect at this point I think it is clear enough that, combined with some snapshots of the board and pieces laid out, that anyone who wants to build it should be able to muddle through. I hope to learn a think or two about the LPub program I’m using for the instructions to resolve these zoom issues soon and will update this then. Ultimately I want to make a 6×6 Hybrid Tak board, but suspect I will need to buy some lego parts or start filling in parts with mixed colors in order to do this.

Lego Tak Board Downloads

Ironically now that I’ve gone and designed this digitally, rather than dig through my boxes of lego looking for these parts, I think I’m first going to build wooden pieces and use print outs of the boards from the Cheap Ass Games site. The wood working project sounds like fun. And friends and family will be more likely to want to learn and start playing with those than my clunky attempts at building this in lego. Once I get any of that done I’ll post an update here.

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