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Ages Play Time Players
8+ 30 minutes 3-5

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): ASS

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Product Description

He who always wins, loses.

Is this familiar? One moment everything is in perfect harmony; then a crazy bird comes out of the blue and you're in danger of losing your balance. In real life, as in this game, you need nerves of steel to keep going along the tightrope.

In this game, the winner of each trick gets points, as does the loser. This can be good or bad: if you always win or always lose, you'll get out of balance. Keeping your balance is what this game is all about.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): ASS

  • Artist(s): Thorsten Schafer

  • Year: 1999

  • Players: 3 - 5

  • Time: 30 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 170 grams

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


  • 50 number cards
  • 11 scoring cards
  • 50 balance sticks

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.5 in 6 reviews

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Excellent game but you have to like math!
April 16, 2003

This game is excellent! Simple one of the best games that I have and its a great choice to play with friend that doesnt like 'heavy' boardgames. There is luck, but the the strategy is much more important. Those who think this game have much luck arent playing it right. The first rounds are the most important. If you play anything you will need luck in the next rounds. But if you try to maximize your chances playing high or lower cards in the first rounds, youre goind to heve better options latter. The problems is that most of players dont think this way, so they give up on any chance of winning in the first round. Theres more strategy on it than you can think!

Light Fare
May 06, 2001

This game is a great filler. You know, not ready to call it quits? Too late for another round of Catan? I really had a great time with it. My friends, on the other hand, were clamoring for another game of hearts... not for everyone, but a keeper in my closet :)

Classic Knizia!
April 16, 2000

Drahtseilakt is a quick bidding type game with the classic Knizia emphasis on mathematical calculation. However, unlike Ra and It's Mine, the mechanism behind this game is much simpler and, I think, more sophisticated.

The basic idea is that you are walking on a tightrope: success is measured by the extent to which you remain balanced. Each player is dealt nine cards with numbers ranging from 1 to 50. Nine rounds or tricks will be played. Whoever wins a trick (by bidding the highest card) takes a specific number of blue rods. Whoever loses the same trick (by bidding the lowest card) takes that same number of red rods. Each round the number of rods to be won and lost changes. Now, blue and red, like winning and losing, balance each other out. For example, if you just won 8 blues, you want to try to lose a later trick or tricks to balance those out with reds. The goal is, at the end of nine rounds, to have the lowest difference between blue and red. The ultimate goal would be to never win or lose a trick, and sometimes this is possible. But the beauty of the game is that you can often balance out an off-balance hand by bidding for a big win or loss.

The instructions suggest that a few games be played and the scores from each summed. If you have zero game you can even erase your worst previous game! This helps balance out the luck element, which is large, but also makes Drahtseilakt lots of fun. Also, for those familiar with German games the quality of the pieces will not disappoint: the graphics on the cards are cute and the blue and red balancing rods look just like the streets from The Settlers of Catan!

Add this clever Knizia game to your collection!

A fun game with as much luck as strategy.
March 23, 2001

I really liked the feeling of balance in this game--it was almost Zen-like. My sister and I played a two person variety of it dealing out a 'dummy' hand for my dog. Gizmo played his cards as they turned up in a pile. Sometimes Gizmo won. Grrr. That is why it did not get a '4' from me... I HATE being beaten by my dog! (he gloats too much!)

Seriously, because of the large element of luck, it is a great game to play with my grandsons (aged 8 and 10).

Fluff, but GOOD fluff
December 27, 2000

Some of Dr. Knizia's games are big, meaty meals. They leave you feeling full after playing them. Tigris & Euphrates, Ra, Stephenson's Rocket, and Lord of the Rings all fall into the category of gaming feasts. Other games by the good doctor fall neatly in the category of light fare. They serve either as an appetizer or as dessert in a gaming session, or perhaps as a light lunch, something that can be played over a break at work.

Drahtseilakt is an entry into this latter category. It is far from a brain-burner, and there is a strong luck element to it. Still, it feels like you have some control when playing, and the results can be surprising when a player suddenly goes from having no score (good) to having a high score (bad) on the last card played.

The game seems to play equally well with anywhere from 3 to 5 players. A player could be stuck with a hand full of either high or low cards, which would be A Bad Thing, but over the course of several hands the luck factor should even out. It comes in a tiny box similar to the one used for Schotten-Totten, and is a good game to bring to family gatherings. Recommended.

AT twenty bucks, definitely NOT a bargain
October 25, 2003

I had to re-evaluate my prior review for this game upon learning of the rather outrageous jump in price. The current price here at Funagain is $19.95, and quite simply the game does not warrant that price.

As I said in my former review, this is a good little game, but when you compare what you get here to what you get in the more reasonably priced Kosmos two-player line, for example, this game comes up wanting.

Unless the price drops to under ten dollars for this game, I can no longer recommend it.

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