Fight for Your Border in the Tactical Card Game Schotten Totten | Casual Game Revolution

Fight for Your Border in the Tactical Card Game Schotten Totten

Schotten Totten

Nine stones mark the border between your Scottish village and your opponent’s. It’s time to move those stones, but in which direction?

Schotten Totten has been around since 1999, but with a couple of small additions and some new artwork, IELLO has given the game a new look and new life. So how does the game hold up after two decades?


Nine stone tiles are placed in the center of the table. The clan cards are shuffled and placed to the side to form the draw pile. Cards have a strength value of one through nine and each number card comes in six different colors. Players have a hand size of six cards.

On your turn, you play one card to any stone tile, placing it on your side of the tile. You may only play three cards to each tile. Once both players have played three cards to a tile, the tile is awarded to the player with the winning combination. The only time you can claim a tile before your opponent has played three cards is if you have a combination there and can prove, based on the cards already on the table, that it is impossible for him to beat it no matter what he plays.

Possible combinations from strongest to weakest are as follows: three cards of consecutive numbers in the same color, three cards of the same strength value, three cards of the same color, three cards of consecutive numbers in different colors, and any three cards. If both players used the same type of combination, then the combined strength value is the tie breaker.

At the end of your turn, you draw a new card. If the deck runs out, you skip this step. The first player to claim three stone tiles adjacent to each other on the table, or five total, wins the game.

There is also a tactics variant. In this game mode you also play with the tactics deck. The hand limit is increased to seven and when drawing at the end of your turn, you may choose whether to draw from the tactics deck or from the main deck. Also on your turn you choose whether to play a regular card or a tactics card. You may never play more than one tactics card over what your opponent has played thus far.

Each tactics card has a special ability. The spy, for example, has a value of seven and can be played as any color, while the banshee allows you to discard one of your opponent’s played cards.

Schotten Totten Components


Schotten Totten is a tightly designed two-player card game with fast playing turns and tense gameplay. There’s a lot of suspense and back-and-forth actions, and careful planning is required as you decide which stones to play which cards to and lots of factors going into your decision. What has your opponent already played to the board? What do you have in hand? What have you already played and where? All of this combines into a lot going on in a pretty small package.

The tactics variant adds yet another layer to the gameplay, keeping it fresh and adding even more factors to consider and more strategy to keep in mind. Wisely, none of the abilities allow you to affect stones that have already been won so that progress is never lost, and you even have control over whether to allow your opponent to play more tactic cards at all, since the number they’re allowed to play is based on the number you yourself use.

IELLO has also done a nice job on the artwork of the game. It is bright and colorful, intentionally silly, but with some really nice detail. There is not a great deal to be said against Schotten Totten, with the one minor exception being that the tactic card abilities are not listed either on the cards themselves or on the player aid cards (which despite being double sided, simply list the combination strengths on both sides). The iconography used isn’t always entirely clear, so you have to refer to the rulebook, which slows down the otherwise fast gameplay.

If you are looking for a good two-player card game, Schotten Totten is a very good option. It plays fast, moves along nicely, and is a well-designed tactical card game, with just enough luck of the draw to keep you guessing.

Pros: Fast turns, fun artwork, suspenseful player interaction, good in both its base gameplay and tactics variant

Cons: You have to consult the rulebook for the tactic card abilities

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.