|| Tak is called “a beautiful game” because the interaction between players on a board can be an intricate dance that involves complex strategy and surprise. There is also a different side to Tak’s beauty: the custom fashioning of your own set. From the simplest to the most elaborate, player-made Tak sets are a wonderful feature of the community. Let us take a moment to discuss the benefits and logistics of your first physical set.
The hub of the Tak community is online and it is easy to play a game on Playtak.com, but no mode of play is as satisfying as using a physical board. A physical set involves sensory appreciation, feeling the shape and weight of pieces in your hand, the aesthetics of the Tak set on the table in front of you, and the social component of playing against someone in person. In-person play simply keeps players more engaged with the game and challenges the mind in new ways. Players also use the physical game as a reason to meet up and see friends (though this has been significantly limited during COVID). There are other benefits to owning a physical set, as well. As a small gaming community, we need to take every opportunity to bring new players into the fold. It is easier to teach and engage a novice with a physical set. Also, by playing in public or having a set visible in your home, others may engage with you about the game and bypass the difficult first steps of introducing Tak. If you lack a board and this has convinced you, then you’ve come to the right place.
"There is also a different side to Tak’s beauty: the custom fashioning of your own set."
The beginner or time-pressed among us may opt for the easiest, quickest option. Simply purchase a copy from Worldbuilders or Greater Than Games - no effort required! However, if you are looking to build your own DIY set, you have several options. When you want a board right away and for practically nothing, Tak can be made from the simplest of office supplies. Patrick Rothfuss shared an example of a paper and post-it note Tak set on his blog (Fig. 1). This set is great if you are first discovering the game and want to understand the basic rules of play.
Figure 1: The simplest of boards. Made to dominate your coworkers during a lunch break.
As your skills increase, you will soon find you’ve reached the limits of this type of set. Don’t let this defeat you; more options are within your reach. To upgrade your pieces, take a trip down to the hardware store. Inexpensive decorative stone and glass tile will fit your needs perfectly (Fig. 2). Upgrading your board is almost as simple. With fabric markers, a straight edge, and some cloth, a durable roll-up board can be crafted in a few minutes (Fig. 3).
Some boards are hybrid boards which allow for two or more sizes (3x3, 4x4, 5x5, etc.). This feature is accomplished by including smaller playing spaces in the intersections of the larger squares or by distinguishing the inner squares from the edge squares. Boards with this feature were distributed in the original commercial sets and the latest “revised edition.” If you are making your first board, you can skip the hybrid feature. Begin with a cheap and simple 5×5 board and scale up from there. The same goes for Capstones. Use bottle caps, wine corks, dowel rods, or other objects at first. You can upgrade to fancy pieces after your first set is complete.
Perhaps you’d like to take it a few steps further. More impressive sets only require a few extra tools and your imagination. Upgrading your set is an artistic endeavor, but if you are using your physical set to attract new players - aesthetics count. A very accessible method of crafting a beautiful set is with a 3D printer. Many local libraries or “maker spaces” have 3D printers and laser cutters that can be used to make intricate Tak sets with little effort (Fig. 4). Often, these locations have staff that will guide you through the process if you have never used these machines before. Go to www.thingiverse.com to find a library of pre-designed Tak sets, or you can take a shot at modeling your own.
When creating your first (or second, or third) Tak set, there are no limits. Tak is played with simple pieces and a board that can be made from almost anything: cloth, leather, metal, stone, wood, and more. Use the skills you possess and bring forth a set from your imagination!
Keep your eye out for future Tak Times articles following the crafting of Tak sets.
Share your own DIY Tak creation and the Tak Times may feature it in a future issue!
Figure 5: The first set AnonymousAuroch built!