Review – Tichu

A partnership, trick-taking game.

Title: Tichu

Year Published: 2014

Designer: Urs Hostettler

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Players: 4

Game Time: ~60 Mins

Set-up Time: >1 Mins

Ages: 12+

Theme: N/A

Mechanic: Hand Management, Partnerships, Trick-Taking

How to win: Score the most points as a team.

Game Description

Tichu is a partnership climbing card game, and the object of play is to rid yourself of your hand, preferably while scoring points in the process.

Set Up

There are several variations of this game so I’m just going to cover the 4 player only game I know which is called “Tichu Nanking”.

Shuffle all the cards and deal all the cards (14) to each player. The player sitting opposite you will be your partner.

Each player looks at their hand passes 3 cards, one to each player by placing a card in front of them. Once all players have 3 cards in front of them, players may pick them up and look at them.

Game Play

The player with The Mah Jong card will play first. (You don’t have to play the Mah Jong, just reveal it)

Tichu Mah Jong

There are also special cards which I will explain in more detail later.

To play, you can choose one of 6 type of hands…

A Single

Tichu Single

A Pair

Tichu Pair

A run of 3 Pairs

Tichu 3 Pair Run

A Triple

Tichu Triple

A Full House

Full House

A Run of at least 5 cards

Tichu Run

Then in order around the table, you need to play the same combination of cards with a higher value, or pass. If you pass, you can come back in to play on your turn.

When 3 players pass, the player who played last, and therefore has the highest value on the table takes all the cards face down in front of them and starts the next round.

If you run out of cards in your hand, you sit out the rest of the round. When 3 players run out of cards in hand the round ends. The final player left in the round gives any cards in hand to the opposing team and any tricks they have won to the player who went out first.


Each team counts each of the scoring cards in their score piles.

If both players on the same team go out first, they get 200 points and there is no other scoring for the round. Otherwise…

Kings & Tens – 10 points
Fives – 5 Points
Dragon – 25 Points
Phoenix – -25 Points

Game End

You play to a point total, usually around 1000. First team there wins.

Round Up

So what do those other special cards do?

The Dog card has no value and can be only used to lead a trick, passing play across to your partner.

Tichu The Dog

The Phoenix can be used as a Joker in any card combination, or as a single card 1/2 higher than the previous card. So if it’s played on a 6, it’s technically 6.5.

Tichu The Phoenix

The Dragon cannot be beaten as a single card and cannot be used in a run, but you have to give the trick to one opposing player if you win.

Tichu The Dragon

There are Bombs, which are a straight flush of 5 cards or 4 of a kind (You can not use the Phoenix in a Bomb) which you can play at any time (even out of turn) to win a trick. A bomb can only be beaten by a higher value bomb.

Tichu Bombs

One of those classic games you need to study to play well, a pro will destroy you. I’m no Bridge aficionado but I bet some of the skills are interchangeable… it’s that level of game.

But, played casually it’s great fun.


A good game to play with casual players, but I can imagine an amateur would annoy a Pro 🙂

I give it 6/10

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