Games Magazine called Touché the best new family game of the year. It's a nice enough game, but hardly the best and certainly not new.
In fact, Touché is essentially yet another, more attractive incarnation of the game most commonly known as Sequence. Players are dealt a hand of cards from a standard double deck (that is, two standard decks combined). The board depicts card images (two of each) and some wild spaces distributed in a cross pattern. A turn consists of playing a card and placing a marker of your color on one of the corresponding spaces on the game board. If one of those spaces is occupied, your only choice is the other one.
The object is to claim spaces which form certain patterns (crosses, lines, boxes, etc). When one of these patterns is formed, you cap off your pieces with black markers to show that you've completed that pattern. Capped pieces can't be used again for another pattern.
The deck of cards includes four jokers which can be used to claim any space on the board. In fact, if someone else has already claimed the space you want, you can kick them off. Very handy if someone's about to complete a pattern.
The first person to complete a specified number of patterns wins the game.
Simple, but as I said it's certainly not new. Sequence has been around for years and, except for the shape of the board, is essentially the same game. Touché's equipment is certainly nicer— plastic pastel pyramids act as markers, the board graphics are attractive and the board itself gleams with a pleasant laminated sheen. Touché also gives you a choice of patterns to shoot for, whereas Sequence only allows for five-in-a-row (at least, I think that's true— to be honest, I don't have a copy handy to check). But these are tiny differences, and I'm sure many a Sequence player has come up with the idea of different winning patterns on their own. Why Games Magazine would praise it so is a mystery— but then, I'm still scratching my head over Sharp Shooters.
Originality aside, there's still the issue of play value and, for my money, Touché falls a bit short. Players hold few cards in their hands at once, giving them scant few choices for moves. Ultimately, victory is dictated more by the luck of the draw than by strategy or clever play. If you don't get the right cards, there's just nothing you can do. Now, that's not always a bad thing if it's disguised, but it's painfully obvious here. Many's the time when I just shrugged and picked a card essentially at random, because none of them were of any particular use. That feeling of lack of control is part of the charm of a card game like War, but here, with a game board teasing me with the suggestion of strategic possibilities, it was frustrating.
On the flip side, this is probably the type of game my grandparents would enjoy. Simple, easy to learn, no tough decisions, painless. Young kids might find it entertaining as well, as long as they haven't yet discovered heavier fare. Touché is so light it floats. It also only accommodates up to three players (for four they suggest team play, but I'm dubious), which is an awkward number for family play.
Touché might be worthwhile if you're looking for an attractive, fairly mindless (and somewhat overpriced, all things considered) game to give as a gift, but otherwise you'll probably want to save your cash and look elsewhere.