Schotten Totten 2 is the latest in the line of small box games from IELLO, which has produced some brilliant little games such as Welcome to the Dungeon, Tempura and of course, Schotten Totten. The original Schotten Totten is a re-skin of board game legend Reiner Knizia’s two-player card game Battle Lines, which has also had a medieval re-skin. But with all these different versions, re-skins and sequels, which one should you get?
Line ‘em up!
All of these games are very similar. A poker-style game where you are looking to win “hands” with the best card combination possible. Players will utilise sets, runs and “sum” (the total value of your cards) and battle to win certain lines of attack. You can see where the original name came from, can’t you! You do this simply by playing a card face up onto a certain position of attack. Players total their cards on their side and compare their score to their opponents. Whoever scores the best score wins that “hand.” In Schotten Totten, this is done in the form of a Scottish clan war.
This a fairly simple affair. The first person to win three hands next to each other or five in total wins the game. It’s a great way to introduce traditional card style systems to your family and has a fun theme with bright artwork. Schotten Totten 2 brings more of the same but introduces a more asymmetric encounter, with one person playing as the attacker and the other as the defender. The attacker needs to damage and control certain lines of attack. Four of these victories will win you the game. The defender, on the other hand, needs to outlast the deck. If they have stopped the attacker from gaining their victory condition within the time frame controlled by the cards running out, they win.
“You will never take our freedom!”
Each game of Schotten Totten 2 last around 20 minutes, but it is fun to switch roles and play twice back-to-back. It feels quite different trying each role out and, as such, this game offers quite a different experience from the original. Schotten Totten was more of a straight shot. Who can find the best hand? In Schotten Totten 2, it feels like there is more of a strategy, especially with the variety of hand win conditions, where players are not always going for the highest score to win.
Another major change is that a hand will not win you a section of the battle-line outright. Rather, a hand will damage it first. When you declare victory at one part of a wall, the tile is flipped to reveal a different victory condition for that area. It may have gone from a simple best of three cards to a best of two, or four cards. Or perhaps the highest or lowest sum of three. Maybe only the same strength cards or a run will bring victory. This is a nice change to the original and makes the game feel quite different.
Schotten Totten is a brilliant two-player small box game. It’s a perfect example of what can be done with very little to create something very good! Schotten Totten 2 builds upon this and offers a more strategic experience.
The game keeps the feel of the original Schotten Totten, making you feel instantly familiar in both mechanic and theme, but it offers enough new opportunities to make this feel like a stand-alone game worthy of your consideration even if you have the original game. If you don’t, then I would suggest you get this first. It is a better game for me. But if you do, I would still suggest you look at this game as it offers something new that you will certainly enjoy.
“We all end up dead, it's just a question of how and why.”
The game comes with expansion cards, which I would suggest you use as quickly as you can (probably from game two onwards). They bring a lot of extra fun to the game, with wild joker cards, spy cards that let you take the colour of your choice when the attacker declares control, and a shield that lets you choose the colour and strength of your card.
There are also cards that let you redeploy your cards to another part of the wall, bring a discarded card back to your wall’s defence, or take a card from your opponent’s side of the wall and discard it! This is very satisfying when they have just completed a successful, high-numbered colour run!
You can also take cards from your opponent’s side and use them on yours in an act of treason, destroy all cards on both sides of the wall in a cataclysmic explosion, bring two discarded cards back into your deck, or force an exchange of three cards from your hand with your opponent.
All of this makes for a very good game that feels different to the original, but still has the highly satisfying poker-style card laying that made Schotten Totten so good.