Schotten Totten 2 (Game Preview by Larry Levy)

  • Designer:  Reiner Knizia
  • Publisher:  IELLO
  • Artist:  Jean-Baptiste Reynaud
  • Players:  2
  • Ages:  8 and up
  • Time:  20 minutes

Schotten Totten is a classic Reiner Knizia 2-player “suits and numbers” card game that debuted way back in 1999.  A number of OGers are big fans of the game.  Recently, IELLO announced that they would be releasing the game’s sequel, Schotten Totten 2, in time for Essen.  As a result, the new game found its way onto the Spiel Want Lists of quite a few of us.  The online rules were just posted, so I thought it would be a good idea to summarize them and explain how they differed from the original game, for all those Knizia fans out there.

The basics of the game remain the same.  Two players are trying to place the highest ranking melds at various locations on the table.  After that, though, everything is pretty much different.

To start off, the new design (which I will refer to as ST2) is an asymmetrical game.  One player is the Attacker, who is trying to conquer a castle via a siege.  The other player is the Defender, whose job is to hold off that siege.  (In the game, these roles are represented by figures of a Cook and a Chicken, respectively, which is pretty bizarre, but still an improvement on the insulting stereotypes of Scotsmen from the original Schotten Totten, so I guess we shouldn’t complain.)

There is a deck of 60 Siege cards, consisting of five suits (colors), with ranks from 0 to 11.  There are also 7 Wall tiles, which are laid out between the players at the start of the game.  Finally, there are three Boiling Oil tokens, which are given to the Defender.  Each player starts with a hand of 6 Siege cards.

As in the original game, each player’s turn consists of playing a card to their side of one of the Wall tiles, and drawing a card to replenish their hand back to 6.  However, unlike the stones in Schotten Totten, the Walls in ST2 are all different.  The size of melds needed to claim the Wall varies from 2 to 4 cards.  In addition, some of the Walls require specific types of melds—at some, you can only play Straights; at others, only Flushes; at still others, only n-of-a-kind melds.  For these Walls, if a meld isn’t of the specified type, then it can only win if the opposing meld also doesn’t qualify, in which case you see which meld has the higher sum of cards.  For the Walls with no restrictions, the rank of the melds is the same as in the original game:  straight flush, n-of-a-kind, flush, straight, other.

Another difference is that only the Attacker can claim a Wall tile.  If she can show that her meld at the Wall is either higher than the Defender’s meld, or that it cannot be beaten, no matter what active cards the Defender plays, then she damages the Wall tile, by flipping it over.  The cards on both sides of the Wall are discarded and both players can once again play cards at it.  The damaged side of the Wall may show a different type of meld that has to be played there.

The biggest change in the game comes from the special ability each player has.  At the beginning of every turn, the Attacker has the option of Retreating.  If she does so, she can discard all of the cards she has played from any of the Walls she wishes.  Since the Defender has no such ability, the idea is that if the Defender is in an advantageous position at a Wall (because you, the Attacker, played some low ranking cards there), you can start over by scrapping your cards there.  This, of course, is completely different than the original game, where the whole point was to delay committing to a stone for as long as possible.  In ST2, for the Attacker at least, there is no final commitment and you can start over (in theory) as often as you like.

The Defender also has a trick up his sleeve.  At the beginning of his turn, he can play a Burning Oil token on a Wall and force the Attacker to discard the card closest to the Wall (which is the earliest card she played there).  This can only be done once per turn and the Defender only has the three Oil tokens for the whole game, but this is obviously a way to take down even the strongest of positions.

There’s one other quirky rule.  If a 0 card is played at a Wall when there’s an 11 of the same color on the opposite side, both cards are discarded.  The Attacker doesn’t have to take this possibility into account (nor the possibility of a Oil token being played) when showing that her meld at a Wall cannot be beaten.

There are two ways in which the Attacker can win.  Either she damages 4 Wall tiles or she damages the same Wall tile for a second time.  The Defender wins by keeping these from happening.  If the last card of the deck is drawn, the Attacker gets one more turn to try to win.  If he doesn’t succeed, the Defender wins.

ST2 also comes with a built-in variant that is reminiscent of Battle Line, the souped up version of ST that is also 20 years old.  The new game comes with 11 Tactics cards.  These are similar to the Tactics cards from Battle Line.  If the players want to use the variant, the Tactics cards are shuffled to make their own deck and each player has a 7 card hand.  When drawing, the players have their choice of which deck to draw from.  Either a Siege card or a Tactics card can be played on your turn, but the total number of Tactics cards you’ve played can only exceed the number your opponent has played by one.  All of these rules are the same as in Battle Line and the specific Tactics cards are similar to the ones in the older game as well.

So there you have it.  Two games that share a name and some basic concepts, but which appear to have very different gameplay.  I’m definitely looking forward to trying this out and I’m sure many a Knizia lover feels the same way!

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2 Responses to Schotten Totten 2 (Game Preview by Larry Levy)

  1. toucanas says:

    That burning oil near the wall card sure sounds very thematic!

  2. MAddMAnn says:

    Definitely looking forward to the implementation of the Tactics cards on Enjoying playing this there now though!

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