Calvin’s Commentaries: Tasso

Typically dexterity games are either love them, or leave them in my world.

Crokinole is the best game there is, rod hockey is fantastic, but most are not exactly my forte.

So Jenga is a game that I appreciate for the steady hand required, and understand why it is often a party favourite, but it has never been very high on my list.

Then along came Tasso, which will have many thinking about a sort of reverse Jenga.

The game from designer Philippe Proux and game company Ludarden is about stacking wooden pieces, although you don’t end up with the eventual stack collapse and the search on the floor if one spills off table.

Each player lays one of his sticks flat, either directly on the game board (part of the stick may be outside the board), or you can lay the piece on two sticks already laid which are not already supporting any others.

When one player lays his stick on two sticks already laid, then he has another turn. This is a key to winning, as the first player to rid themselves of all pieces wins.

There is no limit to the number of layers of sticks, although we have not gotten past a third layer so far.

When a player lays a stick he must not:

* Touch any stick other than ones on which he may be laying his stick

* Cause any stick to fall on or off the game board.

If he does either of these things, he takes all fallen sticks and receives a stick of each player. The offloading of pieces from other players is a death knell in a game as it is near impossible to catch up again in terms of laying off the added pieces. The more playing, the more onerous the penalty too.

As soon as the player has let go of his stick, he can’t pick it up again.

The game is aesthetically wonderful. The baseboard is wooden and a cheerful red in colour. The pieces are wooden as well, in a natural tone. The look and feel are wonderful.

The rules and play are quick, and the game is easily transportable to be a coffeehouse favourite.

If you want a game with more colour, this one has been re-issued at Tasso Safari. In this one, the pieces, which vary in length in the new incarnation, are painted to match African critters, cheetahs, giraffes and such.

Tasso Safari also offers obstacles that are placed in the base before laying sticks, Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria both make an appearance, offering both beauty and obstacles around which players must maneuver, along with a couple of trees and a second smaller mountain.

The obstacles and the varying lengths of the sticks give Tasso Safari a fresh feel, and it is a brighter-looking game, which would appeal to younger players.

Both versions are highly recommended. Check them out at

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

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