A couple of years ago I found a guy on Ebay that was selling off large chunks of his collection of board games. I ended up buying three lots of games from him, each containing large chunks of unique Euro games. However in addition to the Euro games with the lovely English translations, there were a couple in each box that weren’t in English at all.
It took some time and patience, but we were able to track down instructions for most of the non-English games. Often we were able to get them from BoardGameGeek.com, but we had to use a few other sources as well. The end result was some very interesting additions to our library. Consequently, some very interesting fodder for this weeks gamer challenge: Play a game not published in your native language.
So on my groups game night I grabbed an armload of these titles from the library and brought them to the gaming table for us to decide from. Among the games I brought down were Die Weinhandler, Ma Ni To, Saga, and Takt Voll. After discussing what I knew about each one with my posse we decided that our foreign game of the evening would be Takt Voll.
Takt Voll is a German game about music. Not music in the modern terms of “What band performed ______”, but instead “How many beats are in 4/8 time?” and “Based on the time signature of the piece what is a quarter note worth?”.
This game has been sitting on my shelves for a couple of years now, and while I have pulled it out many times, no one would ever play it with me. They found the game very intimidating because of the need to have some very basic music reading skills. But today, with a slightly different group, I ended up with very enthusiastic players.
So, for a change, one of my players read the rules. Or I should say, they read the translated copy of the rules that I had found online. After a few minutes they gathered everyone up (we are like herding cats some days) and taught us the rules.
In Takt Voll, each player has a hand of cards, each one depicting a musical note, rest, time signature, or clef. To start the round off, someone must play down a clef, and then someone must play down a time signature (everyone is given a chance in order around the table to do this), then the game is off and running. On your turn, you are trying to lay down a note or rest that will progress the music along, and hopefully, end that measure. So for example if the time signature is 2/4 time, and a quarter note and an eighth note have been played, you can end the measure with an eighth note or at least get a card out of your hand by playing a sixteenth note. You would not be allowed to play anything bigger than an eighth note because that would be too large for what that measure can still take. If you can play the last note needed to fill out the measure, then you get a point for every note in the measure. Game play continues until one person is out of cards. At that point, cards that are still left in your hand count against you.
While we were playing we did run into a couple of questions that the rules didn’t cover. I don’t know if this is because they were a poor translation or not, but it wasn’t exactly like we could just go find an FAQ (at least in our language) to help us out. Thus we started to make house rules to cover those exceptions. In some ways, not having access to more information about the game was nice because we could just make a decision as a group and move on, rather than fussing and digging for clarification. On the other hand, for the harder core players in the group this kind of willy-nilly rule changes is frustrating. It’s a two-edged sword.
This weeks challenge didn’t really get me fired up. I think because, for me, it was so easy. Our library has probably close to two dozen games that are not in our native language. For us it’s common place. However, for most gamers we recognize that this could be a challenge. Did you manage to scrounge up a foreign game to play?
Next weeks challenge sounds like fun to me: Play a partnership game. We have a few oldies but goodies that we could dive into, or there are some new titles with this mechanic. Decisions decisions decisions.
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