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original German edition of Battle Line

Funagain Games does not stock this edition of this title [], but it may be available in another edition. Try: Schotten-Totten

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 20 minutes 2

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): ASS

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Product Description

This card game might be likened to a simultaneous 9-handed version of the children's game war, combined with poker. The result makes for a tense battle, both tactical and strategic.

Players take turns playing the cards they draw to form 3-card poker hands in front of each of the 9 "stones" in the game, trying to be the first to win 5 total or 3 adjacent stones by beating the opponent's corresponding poker hand. Clever bluffing and careful reasoning will carry the player with the greatest mettle to victory!

Product Awards

International Gamers Awards
Best 2-Player Game Nominee, 2000

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): ASS

  • Year: 1999

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 20 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 129 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. An English translation of the rules is provided.

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.1 in 13 reviews

by Joe G
Bust out your kilts.
May 09, 2001

Don't be fooled by the goofy drawings of enraged Scotsmen: Schotten-Totten is a great game.

When first reading about S-T, I was initially turned off by a misconception that it was some kind of retread of poker, as well as by the silly theme (why I would be eager to go bean farming but would balk at fighting Scotsmen is something I don't really have an answer for). However, I picked the game up anyway, and boy, am I glad I did.

As a card game, Schotten-Totten is quite unique, because in most other card games--gin, poker, hearts, spades, cribbage, bridge--your initial hand is the basis that to a greater or lesser extent dictates the rest of game play. S-T is different. Your initial hand is just a starting point, because you will eventually go through the whole deck and play almost every card you get. WHERE you play those cards is the question, and it is often an agonizing one.

If the game sounds chaotic or arbitrary, it's not (despite the drawing on the cover of the box). It's true that some early choices may have to be made on faith, but soon a distinct situation develops. A game of Schotten-Totten has a peculiar 'emerging' quality; there is a tentativeness in the beginning that slowly crystallizes into a pattern of clarity and inevitability.

There is lots to think about: the odds of getting the cards you need (and so richly deserve), how to keep your opponent from knowing where you're going to beat him, and where to play a card that could easily have a home in several different groups. Even after the game is over, we often find ourselves dissecting what happened, unraveling the decisions and saying 'If I had had that six earlier, I would have put the eight over here and...'. Schotten-Totten is also fascinating in that once the game is really underway, a card played by your opponent can force you to reevaluate your current situation and completely change your plans. On the flip side, there is a particular thrill in nonchalantly placing a card down that you know your opponent desperately wanted--and you know that he knows that you know that he wanted it.

Despite its simplicity, S-T is engrossing, and underneath its cartoon characters, it is elegant. For what it is--a twenty-minute card game--it surely deserves five stars.

On a side note, I have seen elsewhere that the game has been expanded with action cards a la Caesar and Cleopatra (a great game as well, of course) to create 'Battle Line'. I can't comment on a game I haven't played but it seems that action cards would only disrupt a brilliantly balanced game--a bit like playing chess on a greased board.

A fun quick game of strategy and luck.
March 23, 2001

I am always on the lookout for a good 2 player game. This game is great fun even when you lose, because if you had only gotten that red three...

I highly recommend this game for anyone who wants to play a strategic, quick two-player game.

The illustrations on the cards are loads of fun too. Ever notice the Scotsmen are bigger and brawnier the higher number is on the card?

Game of cut-throat tactics and logic. A Classic!
March 23, 2001

This is a game which utilizes probability, logic, and placement. (Fighting for the middle stones decrease the chance of three consecutive wins.) It is a game which is simple, yet with incredible depth. This game puts Lost Cities and Caesar and Cleopatra to complete shame. Battle Line, which is Schotten-Totten in serious garb, is a bit more luck dependent, but I must admit it's exciting. A friend of mine related that if you win the fourth and sixth stones, you are much more likely to win the game. I personally see the game as one of changing tactics and keeping your options open in as many places as possible. No doubt through, this is a game that will be played for quite some time.

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