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Taifho (Traverse)

Title: Taifho (Traverse)
Designer: Michael Kuby, John Miller
Year: 1987

Before I delve deeper into explaining this particular board game, I shall have to comment on a terminological conundrum concerning the game’s title. My Swedish version of the game is called Taifho and is presented as some sort of ancient Japanese game (it does not have the feel of one, but it is apparent that that is what the graphic designers aimed for. This games seem analogous to another 1987 board game called Traverse. I suspect that these games are in fact one and the same, so I will treat them as such.

The is reminiscent of Chinese Checkers in that it presents the problem of moving a number of playing pieces across the board, from the nest on one side, to an opponents nest on the other. The goal of the opponent is of course to do likewise. However, in contrast to Chinese Checkers, there are five different pieces which move in five distinct was (circles move in all directions, squares only longitudinally or latitudinally, rhombi ony diagonally and triangles move forward diagonally or straight backwards). The rules of jumping pieces are akin to those of Chinese Checkers, but also involve the possibility to jump longer distances if circumstances are favourable.

This game is entertaining in that it is fairly easy to learn and in that the basic concepts works fairly well. By this I mean that the game play is challenging and that there are no serious flaws. In fact, there is only one major setback that I can think about, and that is the setup. Since the pieces have individual character and each player is free to place pieces according to his or her will at the outset of the game, this is not only time consuming, it is also essential far winning.

Preferably, rules ought to be included to preclude this, such as having fixed setups, using the setup from the end of last game or making a small game out of the setup it self (for instance by forcing all players to have pieces in a similar fashion, letting players take turn placing one piece each).

As I have already said, this is a good game, especially for four players. The reason why I am not giving it more than four is that the game is not very good for two players and I generally like games without a fixed number of players (Carcassonne incidentally comes to mind). Still, this is a good game which I am satisfied to own.

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