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Any successful relationship requires "giving" and "taking". But just how much are you willing to "give" and "take" in your relationship? In this light-hearted game aimed at the comical foibles of men (blue) and women (pink), you must stay balanced on the Relationship Tightrope in order to come out the winner!
With this fun theme, you can expect some hilarious exchanges around the game table!
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!
Uberplay games has burst into the game market this past year with more games than many game companies have produced in their history. In Korea, I havent really come across too many of their games, but I picked up several at Origins 04 and have really been impressed. Its always a pleasure to see another company producing quality designer games, and these are not an exception. When I first heard of Relationship Tightrope (Uberplay Games, 2004 - Reiner Knizia), the reviews were mixed. Most folk claimed that it was a fun, light game, but that the theme turned them off. Knowing Knizias penchant for themes is light to begin with, I didnt think the theme would deter me from the game.
Actually, I enjoyed the theme, finding it light hearted and humorous. Perhaps it was politically incorrect; but if so, it insulted both genders equally. The game was light and fun, and my first impressions were that the game was too light. However, one of the variants made the game a great deal more fun because it increased tactics. When using this variant, I enjoyed the game a great deal and found that female players enjoyed the game quite a bit. Relationship Tightrope is a light, fun card game that has a pleasant, funny theme; and one that is easy to learn and teach.
The game is composed of one round for each player in the game. At the beginning of each round, fifty bidding cards are shuffled, each with a value from one to fifty; and nine are dealt to each player. The remainder is removed from the game for that round. A stack of eleven relationship cards are shuffled and placed in a stack in the middle of the table, along with a pile of wooden rods - blue and pink. The dealer starts each round by turning over the top card of the relationship deck.
Each card in the relationship deck shows two sides - the male (blue side) and female (pink side). Nine of the cards show a number on each side, one through nine, with the same number on both sides of each card. When one of these cards is revealed, the starting player (dealer on first turn) plays one of the cards face up from their hand, with each player following by playing one of their cards. The player who plays the highest numbered card takes blue sticks equal to the number on the relationship card, and the chap with the lowest card takes pink sticks equal to that number. If a player already has pink or blue sticks and they receive sticks of the other color, one blue and pink stick cancel each other out; a player can only ever have sticks of one color. For example, if I have three blue sticks and receive six pink sticks, three sticks of each color cancel each other out; and I am left with three pink sticks. This shows (according to the theme) how much my relationship is out of balance.
If one of the two Instant Forgiveness cards is turned over, the next card is turned over also. The instant forgiveness card cancels one half of the next card, so that either the lowest or highest card means nothing. All cards played each turn are discarded, and whoever played the highest card begins the next turn. After the ninth turn, each player scores for that round, with their score equaling the amount of sticks they currently have. The cards are redealt, and the next round begins. If a player ever gets a score of zero in a round, they can cancel one of their scores from a previous round. After the final round, all scores are totaled; and the player with the lowest score is the winner!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Variants: I think this is crucial to game play. There are two variants to playing: one optional, the other necessary (IMO). The optional rule has all players play their cards simultaneously rather than one at a time each turn. This adds luck and bluffing to the game and, in my opinion, changes it too much. The other more important variant is using only the exact number of cards needed for the amount of players. For example, when playing with four players, only cards 1 through 36 would be used, with 37 - 50 excluded. This eliminates quite a bit of randomness and makes the game much more tactical. I wont play the game without this variant, as there is too much chaos otherwise.
2.) Components: I really enjoy the box size - slightly long but small enough to easily store and carry. There is a nice plastic insert that holds the cards and sticks well. Speaking of sticks, theyre basically the same size and quality of the roads in Setters of Catan; but half of them are pink, a color not often seen in games. The card quality is top notch, and the artwork on the cards produces a very cartooned and gentle humored effect.
3.) Art and Theme: I really enjoy the theme of balancing a relationship; a lot of the stereotypes really made my wife and I laugh (although I dont think Id ever forget our anniversary!) If you have a thin skin, generalizations about the different genders may annoy you; but I think its cute and funny. The artwork, done by Alvin Madden, really helps push this across; and I found that more women seem to like the game than men. In a society (American), where the gaming community is dominated by men, its pleasant to see a game geared to the fairer sex (forgive my political incorrectness.)
4.) Rules: The rule booklet is seven pages long, but the rules are so simple that they could have been condensed into one page; Im sure. Im glad; however, that full- colored illustrations accompany the rules with many examples - weve never had a problem with the game rules. The game was fairly simple to teach; although I usually play through a couple of rounds, because I found that some new folk have a hard time grasping how the different colored sticks cancel each other out. After a couple of turns; however, everyone catches on.
5.) Run-away Leader: Many German games have a tendency to have a run-away leader, someone who claims the lowest score early on in the game, holds the lowest score, and stays that way until the game is over. The mechanic by which a player who scores 0 in one round, allowing them to cancel a previous score, is an ingenious one. If I have a horrible round, and score 15 - Ive seen it happen; I dont have to lose hope, because a future round could erase that score, conceivably winning the game. This makes the game very enjoyable, and no one ever feels like they are out of the running.
6.) Strategy and Fun Factor: A player who can count cards will naturally do well at this game; but the game is simple, and although it seems fairly light, there are some strategies to be found when playing. Ive seen some folk (me!) consistently win game after game, and Id like to think that it isnt all luck. When you play with the variant, and you receive a 1 or a 45 (with five players), you know that youll win sticks for one hand. Knowing when to play those extremely high and low numbers is key to winning the game. Playing the right card, when a Forgiveness card is revealed, is also very important. Sometimes taking a lot of sticks is a good thing, as long as you know that you can get rid of them all. We had a lot of fun, and even those who lost miserably wanted to play a second game.
I have had some gamers who prefer heavy strategy games to not be totally enamored with this game. They found it to be too light and fluffy for their tastes. Others, especially non-gaming women, really enjoyed the game, and Ive had it asked for by several folk. Its an excellent filler game; and the funny theme, decent mechanics, and hint of strategy (as long as the variant is used) really make it a keeper. I recommend it, especially to families and young couples who will get a laugh out of this sort of thing.
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 :)
Balance: a worthy goal in life, now achievable in a card game near you. Deal everyone nine cards at random from a deck numbered 1 to 50. Turn up the next card from the scoring card deck. Everyone plays a numbered card, and the person who plays the highest number gets the number of blue sticks indicated by the scoring card. The person who plays the lowest number gets the equivalent number of red sticks. At the end of the nine-trick round, each person scores the difference between his blue sticks and red sticks. After a predetermined number of rounds have been played, the lowest total wins. This is one of the few games we know of in which it can be advantageous to hold cards that are neither high nor low.
Once or twice a year, I become enamored with a heretofore obscure card game. In the past, it's been such games as Pepper, Robin Hood, Nicht die Bohne, etc. This year, I can add Sticheln and now Drahtseilakt to the list.
Drahtseilakt was designed by none other than Reiner Knizia and released by ASS. It has been around since 1999, but I had never even heard of the game until my good friend Ted Cheatham taught me the game while we were at Mark Jackson's home for an intensive weekend of gaming back in January. I immediately ordered a copy and have been showing the game to others at every opportunity.
In Drahtseilakt ("Tightrope"), players try to perfectly balance their collection of red and blue rods. Ideally, you want a perfect balance, which means you will have a net of zero rods. More of one color than the other will result in negative points.
The game consists of a deck of 50 cards, numbered 1 to 50. Each player receives a certain number of these cards each turn (nine with five players). Several cards are out of play (five with five players), which prevents those more mentally astute players from perfectly exercising their card counting abilities. Further, there are nine 'balance' cards numbered 1 to 9. These cards depict a man trying furiously to balance himself on a tightrope, with the number depicted on the card being shown in both red and blue. In addition, there are two 'balance' cards valued at zero, one each in red and blue.
Each round, one of the 'balance' cards is revealed and players, one at a time beginning with the player who played the highest card the previous round, each play cards face-up to the table. After each player lays a card, the player who played the high card is forced to take a number of blue rods equal to the value on the 'balance' card, while the player who played the lowest card must take a corresponding number or red rods. This process continues until each player has depleted all of their cards. If a player has collected rods of one color (let's say blue) and later collects rods of the other color (red), he only keeps the net difference in the rods, returning the remainder to the stack. For instance, if Willerd collected 8 blue rods on one round, then later collects 5 red rods, he only keeps 3 blue rods.
Play continues in this fashion until the players have played all of their cards. Points are recorded equal to the number of rods each player has collected and a new turn is begun. We usually play four rounds, with the player with the lowest score (closest to zero) being the winner.
The game forces players to cleverly manage their cards so as to avoid taking rods. Sometimes, however, a player will want to take rods, especially if he had previously collected rods of the opposite color. However, since there is only one of each number in the 'balance' deck, it is impossible to wipe out a set of rods with just one card. So, in addition to managing your cards properly, you also have to remember which cards have already been revealed in a round and battle for the appropriate ones.
The game can be insidious as you attempt to avoid collecting rods and force your opponents to take rods. Or, as mentioned, many times you find yourself trying to take rods to offset previously collected ones. This is sometimes easy, but only if no one else is attempting to collect those same rods. Further, as each hand is played, you have fewer and fewer cards in your hand, so your choices become increasingly limited. Hand management is critical.
But wait -- there's a few more twists. I mentioned the two zero cards. If one of these surfaces in the 'balance' deck, the next card is revealed and the zero card is placed over the corresponding side. So, if the blue zero card is revealed, it is placed over the blue number on the next balance card. This means the player who plays the highest card in that round will get zero blue rods. This often provides an opportunity for players to dump a high valued card, but it can also wreak havoc on your plans if the zero card covers a number you were counting on acquiring! Further, it is quite possible that one or both of the zero cards will not surface during a round, so you can't rely on these appearing when making your plans.
The final twist is really interesting and serves the purpose of keeping everyone in contention, even if they had a previous lousy turn. If a player manages to score a 'zero' in a turn, he can wipe out one of his scores from a previous round. So, even if you scored a disastrously high number in a previous round, there is always hope that you can erase that score with a perfect zero in a later round. I've seen several folks win the game on the last turn by accomplishing the enviable feat.
As mentioned earlier, the player playing the highest card in a round leads the next round. Playing first and second are the least desirable positions to be in, as it allows everyone else to attempt to play between these two values if they wish to avoid taking any of the rods that round, or go over or under if they are attempting to grab rods. So, although you might need to grab those blue rods to offset a previous acquisition, you also must consider the dangers of being forced to lead the following round. Careful hand management is essential to play well and score low!
Throughout the game, you have those tough little decisions that have to be made. The natural inclination is to attempt to avoid taking any rods for as long as possible. However, this may not always be the best strategy, especially if you have a hand with an abundance of high and/or low cards. You really have to adapt your strategies to the cards you are dealt.
I've now played this game with a wide variety of folks, from gamers, to spouses and children. It's gone over well in all environments. I'm amazed this game hasn't received more press. It really is a hidden gem.