Think bingo, but with more colours, more hexagons - and more fun! Take it Easy lives up to its name, in that it’s one of the simplest ever abstract games to play and to teach. It’s no surprise that the game has sold over a million copies worldwide, and won many accolades and awards. It was even nominated for Germany's prestigious Spiel des Jahres back in 1994.
How Does Take It Easy Work?
The game’s premise is very simple. Each player gets a board with 19 hexagonal spaces and 27 hexagonal tiles. Each of the tiles is illustrated with three intersecting number/colour lines. The aim of the game is to complete as many unbroken number/colour rows as possible, vertically and diagonally.
One player, the “caller”, places their tiles face down and picks one out at random, naming the numbers on the tile (e.g. “5-6-3”). The other players, whose tiles are face-up, pick out their copies of that tile. Everyone then simultaneously places it somewhere on their board. Tiles have to be placed with the numbers upright, and once a tile has been finally placed, it cannot be moved again. The caller then picks the next tile, and so the game goes on until all 19 spaces on the board have been filled.
Each complete number/colour row at the end of the game is worth the number of tiles in the line, multiplied by the number attached to that colour. That means you can be strategic in trying to complete longer lines of tiles with higher numbers. For example, should you try and get a long vertical line of yellow 9s right down the centre of the board? Or should you go for a shorter (and easier) row to one side?
Each round of Take it Easy only lasts five minutes or so - perhaps slightly longer if you’re still learning the game. In truth, though, this is such a moreish little puzzle that you’ll want to keep going for several rounds. In this connection, the FX-edition manual recommends four rounds per game.
What’s more, Take it Easy works equally well with any number of players, or as a solitaire game - it’s not for nothing that one publisher’s blurb boasts that this is ‘the true multi-player solitaire’(!). Older Ravensburger/FX editions (pictured in-text) give you sets for four players. However, you’ll find enough sets for six players in the newer edition pictured at the top of this page.
The Best-Laid Plans…
Theoretically, it would be possible (albeit with a lot of luck) to end up with a ‘perfect’ Take it Easy board. Every tile would combine perfectly to form matching vertical and diagonal colour lines. This could also net you the game’s all-time high score of 307 points. In practice, though, the probability of this happening is almost nonexistent.
So, you start off full of high-minded idealism. You're trying to place each tile in the perfect position, so that every colour in every line matches its neighbours. Yet gradually, inevitably, as the game progresses, all of your cunning plans begin to crumble around you… And so your internal monologue starts to grumble... Why on earth did the caller have to pick the horrendously low-value “1-2-3” tile at this point!? In fact, why did they have to pick it at all!? It’s completely messed up your grand strategy!
By the end, every tile placement feels like an exciting mini-gamble. Should you risk waiting for that elusive nine which will net you a five-long yellow line... scoring you a tidy 45 points at the game’s end? Or should you complete your orange row of four eights now, in case no more come up? Players who are into probability could definitely approach the game very mathematically. Still, all of the calculations in the world won’t save you if what you consider to be the “wrong” tiles get randomly picked.
At least everyone’s in the same boat, though. One of the most fascinating aspects of the game is that everyone is doing the same puzzle at exactly the same time. And yet, they're also coming up with completely different solutions. That means that a tile which has one player cursing may well be greeted with a whoop of joy by someone else.
Joys And Sorrows…
This is where most of Take it Easy’s player interaction comes in. You’ll be jointly cursing or praising the luck of the draw... or mock-pleading with the caller to pick the one tile that you desperately need to turn up next. All in all, you’ll be constantly sharing in other players’ small setbacks or triumphs.
But those who dislike confrontation or fear being picked on by other players can rest easy. In Take it Easy, there’s really no way for anything or anyone to mess up your board, except random chance, and your own poor decision-making..!
In short, Take it Easy is fun, light-hearted, and extremely quick to play. It would work equally well as a game for families. Or for groups of friends who don’t play board games often. For board game aficionados, it could also work well as a charming puzzly entrée at the start of a longer game night.
Replayability might suffer if you played Take it Easy every single evening. After all, the gameplay is always pretty much the same. Still, the random chance element means that you will literally never play the same game of Take it Easy twice. I’ve had my copy for many years, and I’m still glad to have it in my collection. Few other games are this simple, this fast, and this easy to bring to the table. And (as the photos above demonstrate) it’s slim-line enough that you can even play it at the pub!