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TOUCHÉ [Tactic Games]

TOUCHÉ is a Luck and Skill based card game played on a Board of cards with two Decks of cards and several coloured cone sets, one colour for each player, plus a Black set of Toppers. This version is for 2-4 players aged 8+ and takes about 30 minutes to play. Games cost £10.00-£20.00 online (used/new) and there are versions, also by TACTIC, for 2-6 players.

The game board is octagonal, it doesn't need to be but it looks good, and there's as much reason for it being that shape as there is for it not being. The bulk of the board's surface is covered in 104 playing-card squares that form a 6-space wide cross-shape, with 8 blank squares (FREE spaces) in specific positions to ensure the game mechanic is able to work.

The 6 jokers (2 Black and 1 Red from each pack) are removed from the decks and dealt one to each player - these are one-use special cards - the other 104 cards are thoroughly shuffled, I mean for the first game you have to really shuffle them a lot as they will be in 2 lots of 4 suites. All 104 cards are used and may even be reused if the deck needs reshuffling. All of the 104 cards are dealt out to the players. 52 each in a 2 player game, 26 each in a 4 player game, and in a 3 player game two players will have 35 cards and the third player will have 34 cards. Each player shuffles their own deck and draws the top 5 cards to make their hand.

Play begins with the choosing of a Start player and continues clockwise. The game mechanic is:
a) Play a card
b) Place one of your coloured cones into one of the two spaces that match the card (if one of these is already occupied you have to play into the second space. If both spaces are occupied you discard the card and draw another one before playing your turn. As the rules don't actually cover it, we play that if you have a card that you cannot play, even if another card or cards in your hand can be played, you discard it and draw another card. Then if that, or any card in your hand, can be played it must be played. Only if no cards from your hand can be played may you continue to discard and draw until you can play.
c) Draw a card to make your hand back up to five cards.

The aim of the game is to place your cones into the required patterns. There are four basic patterns, Square, Cross, T-Shape and Straight line and the winner is the first player to complete three different patterns. Each of the basic patterns except the Square has different variations and each of them, again except the square, have a cone less in their shape when 4 people are playing.

The Straight line can be horizontal or vertical (across 5 or 4 adjoining spaces) or diagonally (4 or 5 corner-adjacent spaces).
The Square is always a Block of four spaces. 
The Cross Can be one space in the centre and the 4 spaces diagonal to it or the space in the centre and the 4 spaces (2 x horizontal 2 x vertical).
The T-Shape is one of: 3 cones in an horizontal or vertical row with 1 or 2 cones vertical or horizontal from the centre cone or 3 cones in a diagonal with 1 or 2 cones diagonal off the centre cone. 

It all sounds very simple, and basically it is, but of course there are a couple of other rules that slightly spoil that simplicity. To begin with when a player creates one of the patterns they take the Black topper cones and put one onto each of their coloured cones in the pattern. Now ALL other uncapped cones, of ALL colours are removed from the board and handed back to their players. Also, if when completing a pattern you accidentally - or purposefully - complete more than one pattern, you may only cap one pattern; this is a game where skilful play isn't always rewarded.

Naturally, with uncapped cones being removed regularly, many of the cards that relate to the spaces will already have been used. This is rectified when one player uses the last card in their deck (plays or discards the last card from their hand and cannot redraw as their deck is exhausted). All other players now put the cards they are holding onto the top of their remaining decks and ALL of the cards that have been discarded/used during play are gathered up (from all players), thoroughly shuffled, and then dealt out equally amongst the players. This means that players who had cards remaining will put those cards ontop of their new cards and begin again with a few more cards than the player who exhausted their personal deck. Five card hands are drawn again and play continues in clockwise order as before.

It is unlikely that there will be any need to reshuffle the discards again, at least we have never played a game where this has occurred. The game is both fun and frustrating as you are often waiting for the right card to appear in your hand. The JOKER, usable only once per game, allows you to not play a card from you hand and instead place one of your cones on any space, even an opposition occupied one (remove their piece) and the FREE spaces may be used by discarding any card from your hand and placing one of your cones on the Free space. However, you may only do this if the Free space completes one of the necessary patterns for you.There is nothing that says you cannot create more than one of the same pattern, though if you do only one of them counts towards winning and by doing so you may find you have left yourself short of cones to be able to win. Use a Joker, you do not draw a card as you will still have five in your hand.

We have tried playing that to win you must complete all 4 different patterns, but this only really works well in 2-player games. It's a good half-hour game but not one to be played often with the same company. Great for breaking the ice and for new players to the board gaming scene.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2021