How to Play Tak
Read the Official Rules
Your goal is to make a road from any side of the board to the opposite side. You do this by placing flat stones on empty spaces on the board.
Once placed, these stones may move to adjacent squares and, if occupied, cover up the stone that currently resides there. The player whose stone is on top of a stack of pieces controls that stack. He may lift up as many as 5, on a 5×5 board, stones and spread them out in a straight line as he sees fit, leaving behind at least one stone per space.
You can also place a stone on its side, as a standing stone. This does not count as part of a road, but cannot be captured by an enemy piece.
And each player has one Capstone. It can be part of a road, cannot be captured, and can move onto walls to smash them and turn them into flat stones. It must do this by itself.
The game ends when one player makes a road, one player runs out of flat stones to play, or the board is completely filled. In the last two cases, you count the number of flats from each player that are showing on top in each space of the board and whoever has the most flats showing – wins.Simmon, from the Tak Discord
- How to Play from Greater than Games (the shortest, and my favorite explanation)
- The game’s designer teaches Tak
- How to play on Playtak.com (You’ll probably be playing online before anywhere else)
Strategy & Tactics
- On the first move, place your opponent’s piece in the corner.
- Given the chance, you generally want to place flat stones rather than walls
- Capturing flats with another flat may be necessary, but puts your own piece in a weaker position.
- Try to place your capstone towards the middle of the board rather than the edges.
- If you wait too long to place your capstone, you’ll either have no good place for it, or be forced to play it reactively.
Further Reading & Education
Basic Tak Strategy by NohatCoder. NohatCoder is one of the top players in the game, and this short guide is a great read once you’ve got the rules down.
Mastering Tak by Bill Leighton. An actual book! The one is full of lessons on reading the board and common patterns, with full illustration. Bill also writes at Tak Thoughts.
Tak Times. Regular news, commentary, and other articles.
Tak University on YouTube. Simmon started with commentary on tournament games, but has since expanded to Tak education to his channel.
US Tak Association. The USTA sponsors regular events online and in person. Membership is required to play in the US Tak Open, and a regular newsletter is sent to members as well.
Ditaktic. Daily tinuë puzzles of varied difficulty, I often have to tackle the harder ones a couple times, or I’ll post my answer and someone else will point out a response I missed and I’ll have to start over.
Nitzel’s Puzzles. Auto-generated puzzles from games on playtak.com, good for practicing seeing road threats and tinuës on a variety of board sizes.
My Own Games
I’m not sure mine are the best games to learn something from (and a couple of them leave me rather disappointed in myself), but games of my own online include:
- 2020 US Open vs thealan
- 2020 US Open vs EVRNjayhawker (This “commentary” is through playback & comments on ptn.ninja, rather than a video)
- 2021 Beginner’s Tournament vs Ineria
- 2021 Beginner’s Tournament vs LucidTak
- February ’21 Blitz Tournament vs Simmon
- 2021 Beginner’s Tournament II vs DoomsBeard
There are plenty of videos of much better games from US Tak Association, Tak Commentary, and Simmon to watch as well.
I try to review games with ptn.ninja playback on this blog as well.
Play The Game
Play online at Playtak.com
Find other players and talk about Tak on Discord or Reddit.