Saturday, October 10, 2009

Game Day: Tara


For Game Day this week we're looking at Tara: Ireland's Royal Board Game from Tailten Games.

The Basics (from the box):

  • 2 players
  • Ages 8 and up
  • Game time: about 20 - 30 minutes

The Story (from the game website):

Tara is a collection of multi award-winning games steeped in the ancient legends of Ireland’s Celtic heritage and royal past. Standing atop the Hill of Tara and contemplating the conjoined ringforts of Forradh and Teach Chormac, the games of Sacred Hill and High Kings of Tara were born. These unique games of pure, 3-dimensional strategy are appreciated by young and old alike; easy to learn, yet a lifetime to master, this is truly a gift to treasure and a ‘classic’ in the making. Two further games have been developed to be played with the same components.


How the Game Works: See a complete overview, including descriptions of the various games and animated rules, at the game website.

Observations: We began by playing Sacred Hill, the most basic game in the set. This is a connection game in which players try to link their ringforts together and, at the same time, block their opponents from doing the same.

Soon we played High Kings of Tara, the second game. The strategy is similar to Sacred Hill, but with an added layer of complexity and challenge.

We haven't yet played the two additional games that can be played with this set, but I've looked at the descriptions and rules. Poisoned Chalice looks more challenging than Sacred Hill or High Kings of Tara; this is for the real fan of strategy games, and I imagine that my son will be asking to play it before long. The fourth game, Stone of Destiny, is described in a Quick-Start booklet. It looks as though it could be learned quickly, but that's not to say that it's not challenging to win!

The back section of the Rule Booklet includes brief sections on delving deeper by increasing the complexity of each game. Most of the actual rule changes are listed on the website, with teasers in the booklet.

Review: Sacred Hill reminded me, at first, of Othello; however, Sacred Hill is somewhat more challenging. It's definitely a strategy game, but players can learn the basics quickly and enjoy playing as they improve their skills. Fans of strategy games are likely to enjoy all the games included in Tara.

Tara is available in a Family Edition as well as Deluxe and Collector's Editions. The editions are the same except for the materials of which they're made: the Family Edition has a heavy cardboard gameboard and plastic pieces, while the others have gameboards and pieces hand crafted from crushed stone.

Tara is available from Barnes & Noble.

Disclosure: I received the Family Edition of Tara, at no cost to me, for review purposes.

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