About the Game Pieces
We hope you're enjoying the new stretch goals. Players have already posted tons of photos of their own Tak sets (we knew that would be easy), and we've seen some healthy spikes in our follower counts (because that's even easier). We have even cracked the first number for poems and songs!
We'll update the achievement grid on the front page at least once a day, to let you see what's been unlocked, and what's next.
Well, once a day except tomorrow, because tomorrow is Tabletop Day! The Cheapass crew will be cruising around Seattle and showing off Tak. Follow along on Twitter, or come and join the fun!
About Tak Pieces
Today we'd like to give you a little more background about the pieces in the Tavern Set and Classic Set. People have been asking for size comparisons, reasons behind the shapes, and so on. So here goes!
First, a reminder: Everything you see in this campaign is a prototype. James Ernest has a new wood shop because of this game, so he can make pieces that are fairly close to final. But they are not perfect. For example, the Classic Capstones above are definitely a work-in-progress. But we're fairly certain about the flatstones, because we have been playing with this piece set for more than a year.
Why Two Sets?
We launched this campaign with two versions of Tak (the Tavern Set and Classic Set) because they fulfill two different roles. The Tavern Set is intended to be portable, inexpensive, and fast-playing. The Classic Set is more deluxe, with everything that implies. We hope you'll love them both: one for your home, and one for the road.
Portable: The Tavern Set pieces are quite a bit smaller than the Classic Set pieces. By decreasing the measurements by about 16%, we reduce the volume by about 40%, so the 44-piece Tavern Set fits into a small pouch.
By contrast, the pieces in the Classic Set are a more standard size playing piece, for times when you don't need the game to fit in your pocket. There are also more pieces in the Classic Set, 62 in all.
Inexpensive: The square pieces in the Tavern Set are made as inexpensively as we can make them (though we splurged a bit on the capstones). That's appropriate for the style of set that it is: travelers' sets in Temerant are made quickly and sold cheap. Cost is also why we don't include a board in the Tavern Set, because (trust us) it really is quite easy to play a 4x4 or 5x5 game without a board.
Fast-Playing: With 44 pieces, the Tavern Set supports games up to 5x5. The Classic Set, with 62 pieces, supports games up to 6x6. A larger game is a longer game, so if you only have a limited time (for example, a lunch break) you want to play a smaller game.
Origins of the Piece Shapes
In its early days, when Tak was played mostly in Modeg, players carried only a half-set of stones, meaning enough pieces for one player. Every player's pieces were personal, and one assumed that any decent opponent would also carry her own set.
As Tak began to spread across the world, it gradually assumed its modern form, in which a full set contains enough pieces for two players. The tradition of personalized pieces still survives in the mixture of multiple piece shapes within one set. Today, Tak players still tend to carry a unique and personal Capstone, even if they do not carry a full set.
Also, note that although the earliest known Tak "stones" are literally made of stone, they can clearly be made of any material including wood, metal, ivory, etc.
Square Pieces: Squares are a clearly utilitarian shape, and Tak has been played with wooden squares for hundreds of years. They are sometimes called a "common" or "peasant" shape, but most often they are just called "square."
Merchant Pieces: The merchant piece is a trapezoid, typically about one inch high, with sides cut at 15 degrees. It has the same shape as a piece of Cealdish currency, the copper jot, and it's rumored that the piece is based on the coin. It's called a "merchant" shape because of its association with the coin, but also because it's a shape that is commonly found in off-the-rack versions of Tak.
Legend has it that the piece gets its shape from merchant gamblers who used real coins for pieces, but this is probably apocryphal. It's more likely that the two shapes, the copper jot and the Tak piece, evolved independently.
Cane Pieces: The cane shape gets its name from a stalk of wood, from which the earliest versions of this shape were made. What began as a traditional farmer's set has evolved into the modern shape.
A true "cane" set is cut from a sapling. The dark pieces come from the thinner part of the tree, with the bark left on, and the light pieces come from the thicker part, with the bark removed. Typically the wood's natural shape is irregular enough that the pieces can stand up, but if they are too round, a small section can be cut off. You can tell a true cane set because the pieces are all slightly different in size and shape.
Manufactured cane sets have a more standard shape (they are the same size throughout) and are properly finished wood, but they are still called "cane" sets after their rustic origins.
Next Week: More about Capstones!