Posted by: gschloesser | August 12, 2011

Take it Easy

Design by:  Peter Burley
Published by:  Burley Games / FRED
1 – 6 Players, 10 – 20 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser  

Know someone who enjoys Bingo?  If so, introduce them to Take it Easy.  It will rock their world.  What’s better, the game is FAR superior to Bingo, and seems to be universally popular.  I’ve now played it nearly one-hundred times since first being introduced to it about ten years ago, and have returned the favor by introducing it to well over a hundred folks.  To my knowledge, not one has expressed distaste for the game.  Indeed, it has been widely hailed and praised. 

So just what is Take it Easy?  Other than a famous rock / country song by the musical group the Eagles, it is a wonderful, highly-addictive puzzle-like game by British designer Peter Burley.  Originally published in 1983, the game has been consistently available from various publishers for over twenty-five years.  The latest edition, which can accommodate up to six players, is once again receiving wide distribution throughout the United States and Europe, and is destined to continue the game’s popularity and appeal. 

Each player receives a hexagon-shaped board with nineteen spaces, as well as a set of twenty-seven tiles.  Each tile depicts three lines that crisscross the tile, each having a different value and color.  The numbers range from one-to-nine, with all lines of a particular number going in the same direction.  For example, all “nines” are vertical, while all “threes” cut across a tile on an upwards angle, right-to-left.  This is important knowledge when playing the game. 

One set of tiles is inverted and revealed one-at-a-time.  As each tile is revealed, its values are called aloud.  Each player then finds their matching tile, and places it on an empty space on their board.  Once placed, the tile cannot be moved.  This process continues until all players fill their entire board with tiles.  Naturally, this occurs simultaneously. 

The object is to form contiguous lines of identical numbers, vertically and along the two diagonals.  Tiles that interrupt a complete line of identical numbers nullify that line, which means that particular line will not score.  The more complete lines of identical numbers a player can form, the higher his score.  

Scoring is a bit mathematical, but not too daunting.  To calculate one’s score, each complete line – there are fifteen potential lines – is examined.  A line’s score is equal to the number on the tile multiplied by the number of tiles in that line.  For example, if a player managed to get four “fives” in a complete row, he would score twenty points for that line (5 x 4 = 20).  A player tallies the scores for each complete line to arrive at his total.  The player with the highest total is victorious. 

It almost sounds too simple … but it isn’t.  Sure, the rules are easy, and players can learn to play almost instantly.  Playing well, however, is another story.  Decisions must be made as to where to place each tile as the number is called.  Since there are more tiles than spaces, not all tiles will be placed.  Thus, players cannot count on a specific tile being “called”.  The natural urge is to place the higher-valued numbers on the longer lines.  For example, placing the “nine” tiles along the long, five-space rows is a popular tactic.  However, one must hope that five “nine” value tiles will be called.  There are an amazing number of tile-placement options during the game, although these options steadily reduce as one’s board fills.  While there are choices to be made, luck does play a role, as no one can accurately and consistently predict the tiles that will be drawn. 

The game never fails to elicit a variety of outbursts, as players urge the “caller” to pick a certain tile, hoping that fate is with them.  Of course, when the correct tile is pulled, there are frequent shouts of jubilation, while cries of despair often follow the calling of an undesired tile.  Truth-be-told, one has no control over this, but it is fun to play the odds and hope for a desired tile to be called.  After each game, there is that inescapable feeling that you could have done better if you had just placed one tile differently, or if a desired tile had been called.  There is also a nagging urge to play it again, just one more time! 

About the only knock I’ve heard against the game is that it is the very definition of “multi-player solitaire”.  That is, each player plays their own game without any influence or interference from their opponents.  That is a completely fair description of the game … but so what?  It is not meant to be a highly interactive game.  Rather, it is meant to be a fun, puzzle-like game that that challenges players to optimize their score.  The game is wildly successful in meeting that objective.

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Responses

  1. There are some great games where whatever decision you make, it’s the wrong one. This may be the original. Yes, there is quite a bit of luck, but tournament play reveals wild swings in scores with some players consistently (and remarkably) higher. So, it’s a spatial game of skill. Always a blast. (7/10)

  2. Fun puzzle game. Quick enough to play a couple times with family. I like the ability for many people to play at once. 6/10


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