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Ta Yü
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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Ta Yü
Theme:  Oriental
Genre:  Connection
Format:  Board Games, Placement / Tile-Laying Games

Ta Yü

original German edition

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Product Awards:  
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1999

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30-45 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Nicolas Neuwahl

Manufacturer(s): Kosmos

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Product Description

Ta Y is a legendary Chinese hero who saved the Realm of the Middle from a flood by creating a multiplicity of channels and diverting the torrent to a distant sea. In this game, the players strive to channel water from their lands by skillful placement of water stones that represent channels for the water. The winner is the player who creates the most effective network of channels connecting both his sides of the board to the distant sea, thus diverting more water from his lands than the other player. The game plays naturally with two or with four as two partnerships. With three, one player takes the role of he torrent, working to keep the others from creating sufficient channels to divert the deluge and save their lands.

Product Awards

Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1999

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Nicolas Neuwahl

  • Manufacturer(s): Kosmos

  • Artist(s): Claus Stephan

  • Year: 1999

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 30 - 45 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 1,716 grams

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


  • 1 game board
  • 112 playing pieces
  • 1 cloth bag
  • rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.1 in 8 reviews

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Loved this game!
July 05, 1999

Ta Yu is a great game for 2-4 players. I have only played the 2 player version but it's a definite must have! Anyone can learn to play and it's challenging for everyone.

Ta Yu is basically a pipe laying game. You try to match tiles and build current openings from one side of the baord to the other while also trying to slow your opponent down. The different openings on the tiles can lead to puzzle-like challenges for placement.

The Oriental theme to this game leads to the beautiful design and layout of the board and tiles. I just love the aesthetic quality of the game. The tiles have a great 'feel' to them, reminiscent of MahJong tiles with the same kind of clicking.

The ultimate coffee table game?
July 28, 2001

Coffee table games are those few that look really good as a decoration in your living room. Chess sets are the most common of this type, but other games, such as Cathedral and Quarto! make the list as well. Ta Yu may be the greatest of the non-chess games on this list.

The game itself is quite abstract. The players alternate choosing tiles from a stack and placing them on the board, trying to make as many connections as possible between their two sides of the board. While one player tries to connect north and south, the other is just as hard at connecting east and west.

The tiles are thick, heavy, and sumptuous. The board is understated and elegant. While I am not a big fan of abstract games, I do enjoy connection games, and Ta Yu is one of the easiest to learn and hardest to master.

Highly recommended.

Go With The Flow...
July 23, 2001

I really only have a little to add to the previous articulate reviews of Ta Yu.

A little bit has been mentioned about the luck factor of this game. This can be eliminated entirely with a setup that that my partner and I tried. Although it was a little time consuming, before one game we divided all the tiles into two sets, with each of us having the same number of each tile configuration. This effectively made the game 100% (sometimes agonizing) strategy.

Another thing I thought I'd mention was the feeling I had before ordering this game versus the feeling after playing it. After reading the previous reviews, being the sucker that I am for a good tile placement game, I was intrigued. But the illustration shown (from the bottom of the box) certainly didn't look very stimulating visually, and I wondered if the gameplay was proportionately dry. I now know that that picture is a set up that's supposed to represent the beginning of the game. By the end of the game, at least when we play, the board is about 95% full, and is beautiful to behold. It's almost as if you have created an intricate artistic design.

Luckily for me, I decided to bite the bullet and acquire Ta Yu. I realize now that Kosmos could have just as easily (and much more cheaply) made the tiles out of cardboard. And because of this, there is just something about the heft factor of this game that adds a je ne sais quoi to the board that makes the gameplay so satisfying.

One more thing. That representation on the box is not representative of any of the games we have played. Our games tend to be much more--hmmm...what is it?--aggressive, I think, would be the best word. We rarely let each other get such clean shots to score.

I love this game, and with each play, Ta Yu is growing on my partner. My gut feeling is to give Ta Yu 4.5 stars, but I don't feel that it is a 'perfect' game, so I'm going to round it down to 4 stars.

A nice game
June 25, 2001

Waterworks, pipe dream. This game type has been used over and over again. I happen to be a big fan of this game, the pieces in this set are exceptionally well made. I think this is strictly a two player game, though. I have played it with four, and I don't like it. I like the balance of blocking your opponent while trying to score yourself. A nice game. It is expensive, but you do get your money's worth.

A Beautiful & Thoughtful Game
November 08, 2000

Ta Yu is a beautiful game. The domino-like tiles are substantial and feel nice in the hand. The rules are simple to explain, making this game very approachable for non-gamers.

Mah-Johng players may be attracted to it, because of the Oriental theme and the tactile satisfaction of handling the playing pieces.

There are two problems with this game. First, it is expensive. Second, those who like to be able to plan ahead will be thwarted. This is a game of maximizing your current situation. You are always dependent upon what the next tile drawn will allow you to accomplish.

For me, these problems are no big deal. The production qualities of the game justify the expense. The lack of planning doesn't bother me. It sort of feels like a jigsaw puzzle meets boardgame.

Floods and Fun
April 25, 2000

Ta Yu is an intriguing connection game in the manner of Twixt, Antipalos, Hex, The Game of Y, Connections, Trax, Pipeline, etc. Perhaps it is most similar to Pipeline, because in both these games playing pieces are drawn randomly from a common supply. Ta Yu, however, is the first game of this kind that I know of that introduces a scoring system and permits more than one connection to the edge of the board.

Ta Yu is played on an a board of 19x19 squares. Game pieces consist of 112 rectangular tiles (or stones) imprinted with a water channel. Each tile covers three squares on the board. There are four each of 28 different stones. The path of the water channel differs on each of the 28 types. But in all cases the channel exits the tile at three different locations. Tiles that have channel exits on three different edges (as opposed to two edges or one) are marked on their reverse side with a special symbol. This information can often be used to a player's advantage when drawing a tile.

Starting from the first tile (which must be laid across the center square of the board) players attempt to connect as many channels as possible to their edges of the board. One player attempts to connect to the north-south edges; the other to the east-west edges. A player scores 1 point for each channel connected to his/her edge (three special locations on each edge score 2 points for a connection). And the total score is the product of the score for one edge times the score for the second edge.

At the beginning of the game the tiles are shuffled and stacked upside down into a wall two stones wide. During a player's turn he draws one of the two stones at the end of the wall. The selected stone must be played so that the channels on the stone connect with channels on previously played stones. A tile may not be played in a position that blocks other channels. Players alternate turns and the game ends when a tile is drawn but cannot be played. The player with the highest score wins. Although the basic game is for two players, Ta Yu can also be played by four players and by three players in a special 'cutthroat' version.

Although stones are drawn at random, game play demands much careful consideration. Like most connnection games, Ta Yu requires a delicate balance of offense and defense. The choice between extending your own channels or blocking those of your opponent is often difficult to make. In certain situations you may even find it to your benefit to connect a channel to your opponent's edge of the board in order to block him from making further connections! In any case, Ta Yu is a nice blend of pure strategy and the luck of the draw.

This is a beautifully produced game with heavy plastic tiles reminiscent of Mah Jong. I am more than satisfied with the game, and I have gone back to it many times for replay. If you like games of this genre, Ta Yu will not disappoint. To my way of thinking, it was well worth the investment.

Go with the flow
August 14, 1999

Ta Y is a nice remake of some of the ideas in games such as Water Works (connecting flow with cards/tiles) and Twixt (connecting opposite sides of the playing area). It rises above those games, however, with a variant on the theme: the game isn't over when someone connects opposite edges. Instead, you are trying to get as many edge connections as you can, on both sides. And your opponent, naturally, is trying to do the same for the other sides.

This game does rely a bit on the luck of the draw, although there are variants (and you could make your own) that reduce this for a more strategic game. As it stands, the mix is just about right for me, and Ta Y is very much a tactical game in which the player's standings ebb and flow with the water they are channeling.

Ta Y is a very pretty game (although it would have been nice to have a board as satisfyingly solid as the tiles - but imagine the cost!) and it does play quite well. I haven't tried it as a three-player game yet but the idea of one of the threesome playing the flood and thwarting the other two is fascinating.

Water, water, everywhere...
August 12, 1999

The flood waters of China are rising, and it is up the the players to 'drain' the floods to the sea. Ta Yu is an extremely simple game to teach allowing new gamers to get right into play. Unlike other tile laying connection games such as Pipeline, the Ta Yu game board grid is square, but the tiles are rectangular. The tiles are thick domino pieces with 'water channels' exiting from one, two and three sides of each rectangle. Players take either North/South or East/West on the game board and the scoring format forces you to 'drain' water in both directions. A player with 8 exiting channels to one side and 1 to the other will lose to a player with 3 exiting channels on both sides as you mulitply your two sides of the game board. Thus the first player's score would be 8, to the second player's score of 9.

I do not enjoy games that do not offer me choices, so I highly recommend playing the second tile variant. It gives a player the ability to project at least one move a head, and deliver a trump like effect with the right piece at the right time.

While set-up of Ta Yu appears simple enough, if you are a late night gamer, drinking coffee or enjoying a beer or two, stacking the tiles two rows, seven high can in itself be quite challenging. Imagine setting up Jenga without the aid of the molding frame. This may seem a bit picayune, but with repeated play during the evening, this tile set-up can be a bit tiring.

Ta Yu offers three and four player variants, but really is a two player game. Enjoyable, and definantly re-playable... just don't have the shakes.

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