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Store:  Card Games, Family Games
Edition:  Tichu
Genre:  Trick-Taking
Format:  Card Games
Family:  Zheng Shangyou


English language edition -- 2-card-pack set

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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30-90 minutes 3-10

Designer(s): Urs Hostettler

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Abacus, Fata Morgana

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Product Description

Even though over 642 million Chinese play Tichu nearly every day, the game is very complicated for Europeans. One need only get rid of his cards. Tichu is primarily a partnership game for four. With just the two packs of cards, Tichu is also well suited for large groups.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Urs Hostettler

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Abacus, Fata Morgana

  • Year: 1998

  • Players: 3 - 10

  • Time: 30 - 90 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 206 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).


  • 112 cards
  • 1 rule booklet

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.4 in 5 reviews

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Westernized Edition of Zheng Shangyou - Great Game
June 15, 2004

I am a fan of Contact Bridge and Skat. Westernized card players overlook the depth and skill of this game. The rules are confusing until it is played a few times. BELIEVE ME I'VE SEEN BRILLANT PLAYERS AND THEY WEREN'T JUST LUCKY. I recall as a chess snob remarking that backgammon was not really a game of much skill. After many losses and a much lighter wallet, I began to change my mind. If you are a card player who enjoys different games of skill, add this to your expertize.

by Jabla
Excellent (granted you like the genre)
November 12, 2002

Dalmuti style, in depth, varying really a lot. Takes a little learning to get into the philosophy of the game, following the 'unwritten rules' and general strategy but it's sure all worth it when you get it. Maybe *the* card game when it comes to co-operative play. Bombs bring whole new aspect to game. I love it :)

Nice additions are that you can play Zheng Fen and very entertaining version of 'Someone's always the a**hole' -game. Latter being maybe one of most entertaining light but still interesting card games suitable for more than 5 people. We've played it as fixed 14 card (as in tichu) variant which seems to work really well.

If you like card games like hearts, bridge and variants or great dalmuti I can recommend this wholeheartedly.

Brilliant game in the Dalmuti family...
July 19, 2001

I first became aware of this game at a gaming mini-con over at someone's house near Boston. They played it all the time there. This piqued my interest, and I ordered it. I did finally get to try it, and I have to admit, the game has me hooked. It has a lot of options to it, and actually turns the Dalmuti-style game into a real cardgame and not just a filler. I personally find the game less convoluted than Frank's Zoo, which counts for something in my book.

HIGHLY recommended.

Excellent... better than Spades!
April 16, 2001

...or, at least as good as Spades :)

Seriously, Tichu's immense popularity in Europe is well deserved. I was introduced to this game last year at the World Boardgaming Championships in Maryland. I ordered if from Funagain a month later--and try to play it any chance I get.

The game uses a basic deck of cards with 4 extra 'special' cards. It is a partnership game where the players attempt to 'go out' before their opponents. Simply put, the entire deck is dealt to the four players, each player passes 3 of their cards (one to each other player), then play begins with the holder of the 'Mah Jong' card... one of the special cards I mentioned above. That player can then play a single card, a pair, a triple, a run etc... which must be either beaten by the next player or 'passed'. The highest on that trick gains the lead for the next.

Sounds fairly simple, but the decisions are delicious--especially with the 4 'special' cards thrown in. The 'Mah Jong' card, for example, grants a player the right to lead first. It also allows the player to make 'a wish' when he plays it. The 'wish' means that the player can call for a value of a card, e.g. a '5' or an Ace. The next player who has that card--and can legally play it--must do so. Think the other player might be holding a run of 3-4-5-6-7? Why not play the 'Mah Jong' and wish for a '5' to ruin that run?

My only complaint (a minor one) is that the set comes with 2 decks, but only one has the four special cards?!?! The other deck has four 'rules' cards printed in their place. Ack.

by Doug K
I Don't Get It
January 11, 2002

There's one in every crowd, and I'm that one. Everyone else seems to love it, so take this with a lot of grains of salt, but for my money Tichu has nothing to offer the trick-taking genre. Almost all information is hidden, so the idea of 'thinking your opponent has a run of 34567' is a shot in the dark based only on your own hand distribution. The luck factor is high (I play a bomb! Oops, my oponent had a bigger bomb) and the cooperation is minimal (there is almost no way to pass information to your partner). Perhaps I played the wrong variant, or I'm a bridge snob. Be forewarned, though. It IS possible to find someone who doesn't like this game.

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