Friday, June 25, 2021

As I get older, Tally Ho gets weirder but still fun

 Tally Ho has been in my collection for a long, long time. The first GenCon after I realized that I really like board games, I came home with a lot of new games.

At that time, Mayfair was selling imported Kosmos games with English rules in black and white shoved in and I got a bunch of them. (I later learned that Rio Grande sold English-language editions LOL) 

Once every five to ten years, I pull Tally Ho out. And I swear it is crazier every time I look at it. It’s an asymmetric conflict of bears and foxes versus hunters and lumberjacks with trees and fowl in the middle. And, man, is it unbalanced… from a certain viewpoint.

You take all the counters, flip them upside down and randomly fill the board. So any piece can be anywhere. (On your turn, you either flip over a counter or move a counter you can legally move)

And I have had games where the placement and order of reveals dramatically determined the outcome of the game. A bear walled in by trees? They won’t be munching any humans.

But a full game is two matches with each player getting to play both sides. (I’m pretty sure the humans have the edge) More than that, with all the counters being flipped triggering the endgame, the players control the tempo and timing of the game. You have to be the one who balances the game. (I feel like that a design concept you don’t see as often as you used. Wow, I feel like a cranky old geezer :P)

Well, Tally Ho was first published in the early 70s and design priorities have changed since then. When I first tried the game, I wondered if it was secretly a war game. Now I’d describe it as a mash of abstract and Ameritrash design priorities. The cartoonish artwork looks like it’s for a kids game but there’s depth to the gameplay, between risk management and careful play.

Literally hundreds of games later, I still haven’t played another game that’s really like Tally Ho. And, while not flawless, it has remained in our collection, which can’t be said for many, many games. 

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