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Heave Ho!
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Heave Ho!

English language edition

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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30-40 minutes 2

Designer(s): Richard Borg

Manufacturer(s): Kosmos, Rio Grande Games

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Product Description

Players play cards instead of using their own muscle-power in this Scottish tug-of-war game. A player can play cards on either side of the rope: high cards on his side and, naturally, low cards on the other. With an energetic "heave-ho!", players compare their strengths and move the whisky barrel in the direction of the strongest team. Beware: both players have access to a handful of tricks! Traitors can exist on both sides. The rope can break! Or Nessie can join one side to help or feed! At the end, the player who has the whisky barrel on his side of the board, wins the round. But a full match is the best of five rounds!

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Richard Borg

  • Manufacturer(s): Kosmos, Rio Grande Games

  • Artist(s): Franz Vohwinkel

  • Year: 2002

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 30 - 40 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 405 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.


  • 1 game board
  • 5 wooden whisky barrels
  • 55 cards
  • 1 rule booklet

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 6 reviews

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Scotland Forever!
September 21, 2003

I finally got a chance to try this, and it's a hoot. Heave Ho! is simple, but there is some strategy and tension.

The game reminds me a little of Ivanhoe. There are cards with different values, and you are constantly trying to beat the other guy's score to win the round. Unlike Ivanhoe, however, you can play cards of low value on your opponent's side, if you wish, to bring his score down.

The colorful graphics of this game are excellent, as good as any I've seen. The Scots characters, particularly the Robust Dames are hilarious. The artwork alone warrants this game a 5 star rating!

I enjoyed this game, look forward to playing it again, and I highly recommend it.

One heck of a fun game
May 30, 2003

This game is just plain fun to play and it has this 'just one more game' feel to it. Yes it is luck driven but it does have a certain amount of strategy. Knowing when to play the right card can win or lose you the game. I am always amazed how some people seem to equal luck with ok game. A game that has luck is not necesarily a bad game. In this case it is just the opposite. A solid 4 for me.

The Funnest of the Kosmos Two-Player Series
February 25, 2003

This game is quick, light-hearted fun involving reversals of fortune that keep things moving. Players compete in a tug-of-war by playing numbered cards onto their own or their opponent's side of the board with a few action cards thrown in for surprise. In some ways, the intial set-up of the game is the best part. Players essentially divide the deck (20 cards each) and race to sort a deck of cards into the two piles: the ones you want and the ones for your opponent. Whoever finishes first gets to complete the other player's sorting. Highly-recommended.

Light But Really Fun!
February 02, 2003

This is definitely one of the lightest in the Kosmos Two-Player Series, but it's a load of fun and it plays quickly with a high 'just once more' value. If there were separate categories for serious stragegy versus purely fun games, I'd give it five stars in the fun group.

"...The barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun..."
January 09, 2003

Cant you the accordion and drunken chorus singing? Well, Heave Ho is

the ultimate beer (whiskey?) & pretzels game. It is one of three new

Kosmos/RioGrande two player games released and the breeziest of the


A shuffled deck of fifty-five cards, split twenty cards to each player, face

down. Players race through their pile, two cards at a time, splitting them

into two piles, one for me, one for you. Players exchange one for you

piles with each other. Now you play. Begin with six cards in your hand

from your stack. Play a card, draw another. The cards have values ranging

from 0 to 6, colored red, green, blue, or white (wild). There are also

action cards. Play your low cards on your opponents team, high cards

on yours. Play a card with heave ho on it, add up each teams score. The

difference between high and low is the number you move the whiskey

barrel towards the higher score team. The action cards allow you to

change things, help your score or hinder your opponent. Move the

whiskey barrel to the end of your team, you win the round. Best of five

wins the match.

Not much strategy here, though lots of interplay. No Lost Cities two

player solitaire feeling here. There is luck of the shuffle, but the whole

opening splitting of cards does reduce it (luck) a bit. The action cards can

really upset any kind of card play strategy you working on, but again,

thats the fun of it. I mean, come on folks, we battling over whiskey

here!! Heave Ho is just that; a fun, cuss out tug of war. Both players

should familiarize themselves with the action cards before playing,

otherwise the splitting of your cards wont make much sense.

The artwork and characters look great. No rules challenges either. Dont

expect a chess match, just break out your best scotch and hoist a shot.

Boardgamers of Reno give a rowdy cheers to Heave Ho! We just thank

Richard Borg for having Scots fighting over whiskey, and not haggis!!

Tug-of-Luck for the hairy Scottish boor in all of us!
December 10, 2002

Visually, I think anybody will get a kick out of the cartoony Scots in this 2-player game. The question is, what will they think of the play of the game?

One of the 2002 releases in the Kosmos 2-player line, right away you realize that Heave Ho! has some good things going for it: Richard Borg has won many fans with Battle Cry and Hera & Zeus; the visuals (board, cards, wood barrels) are top notch; and there are some unique mechanisms too.

Players are taking opposite sides in this tug of war. The board depicts a rope going across the board with 3 different color outlines for cards on either side of the rope (so maximum 3 tuggers per clan at any one time.) Players first form teams, then play cards to the field one card at a time trying to manipulate scoring to their advantage.

Forming teams is very unique. The cards are shuffled and dealt out to each player, 20 cards each, leaving 15 cards out of this round (so players are never sure what, exactly, will be available.) Players keep their cards face down in a deck then the younger player shouts 'Heave Ho!' At that moment players are racing against each other to make teams: each player takes the top 2 cards, looks at them, and splits them into 2 piles, one pile will be for his opponent, one pile will be for himself. Players go as fast as they can ten times all the way thru their deck. If one player finishes first, that player gains two advantages: a slight head start in the tug-of-war, and the bonus of dividing the remainder of their opponent's deck, (which could help the first player to a few more good cards.)

The next part of the game is simple: players draw a hand of 6 cards, then play one card at a time onto the board. That raises the one rule problem in the game. Since so far only the German version has come out, some people have played that you can only play cards to your own side of the field, other people play that you can play cards in any of the 6 slots. I have been assured that the latter is true and that players can play their cards to any space on the board. The funny thing is that the first method actually is far more challenging (when do you place bad cards to your own side of the field?) and the second far more chaotic (you never know what you'll need a turn ahead of time.)

Either way, cards come in 4 colors -- red, blue, green, and white -- and special action cards, and must be played to their appropriate position on the board except that whites are wild and may be played anywhere, and action cards allow actions instead of placement. The men have strength ranging from 1-3 points; several cards depict women who have 4 strength points but have a weakness, and one depicts the Loch Ness Monster (worth a whopping 6 strength points) who is vulnerable to a special card, lastly there are 'zero' cards that depict...noone -- I guess one of your tuggers is off fighting the English. The special cards are one-use cards that allow for stealing a card, or looking at someones hand, and other such rule bending.

Scoring is ultra simple: when a player plays a card to the board that says 'Heave Ho!' (or How Ruck! in the German version) strength points are summed up and the winner takes the difference in points. The points are tracked at the bottom of the board where there are 12 gold cicrles. The barrel starts on one side of the middle and moves back and forth. Every point a player gains moves the barrel one circle closer to them. The end circles are larger and represent a win. Winner claims the barrel (of egg nog? =) and a new round is begun. First player to 3 barrels wins.

Either way you play the rules (play a card in your own area OR play a card in either area) you'll find out quickly that this game has MUCH luck in it. I mean tremendous amounts of luck. That does not make this game bad, but be forewarned, you do not have a heck of a lot of control. But it is somewhat fun, and the artwork and theme are pretty cute. Not the strongest in the Kosmos two-player series, but kind of fits nicely alongside Tally Ho! (the 'Ho!' games?) as a fairly light, fun diversion for two.

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