Basha Tarneeb Review—Lacking

Basha Tarneeb

Basha Tarneeb and the other entries in the Basha series are video game versions of popular card games in the Middle East and North Africa. Anyone who is unfamiliar with these games might get confused big time the first time around. Among the three Quirkat Basha titles, Basha Tarneeb is actually the simplest.

The game has a number of language options, including English. The artwork of this Mini indeed sets the Middle Eastern desert mood, and it is complemented by its Arabic-styled soundtrack quite nicely. Indeed, the mood is there. The problems are everywhere else.

The most pressing problem that this Mini presents is that it does not have an extensive tutorial, despite its unfamiliar nature. The tutorial itself is confusing from the get-go with this introductory phrase: “In Tarneeb, two teams….” Upon starting the game, there are four players, you and three others controlled by the AI, shown at the table. Who among the three is your teammate? Is it the guy on your left? Is it the guy on your right? Is it the guy in front of you? This kept bothering me while playing this Mini. Even if I learn the game mechanics…who is my teammate?! Only by separately researching tarneeb was I able to find out that the one seated in front of me is supposed to be my teammate.



Basha Tarneeb is easy to play, but explaining the mechanics is a mouthful. This game, tarneeb, is considered a variation of whist. I haven’t played whist in my life, and I am also not familiar with any card games that are not solitaire or poker. If you are familiar with whist, tarneeb might strike you with some semblance of familiarity, and the learning curve might be more gently sloped.

At first, it is a bidding war for who gets to decide what suit is to serve as the trump (the Tarneeb). The minimum bid starts at 7, and the limit is 13. You can choose to play the game in two views, the “fully animated” view (it’s not really animated; you just have the luxury of seeing the portrait of the person if it is his turn to throw) and the basic top-down view of table and cards, by pressing Triangle. For every turn, everyone plays a card in counter-clockwise order. Whoever gets the highest card in rank (2 being the lowest and ace the highest) wins the Trick.

" I am."

" I am."

Whoever wins the Trick is the one who throws first in the next turn, meaning he controls the suit to be played the next turn. If the current suit being played is Spades and you have no Spades left, you can throw any of the suits that you have. Throwing the Tarneeb suit is an instant win as it basically kills everything on the table (as long as no other player throws a Tarneeb-suit card higher in rank than yours). But, you can’t just throw the Tarneeb suit (or any other suit), even if it is not called. You have to lose all of your other suits first and be forced to throw suits that you are left with.

The normal controls are here: X to confirm, Triangle to cancel. Additionally, you can check how many Tricks you and your opponents have won by pressing Circle, and you can also check the cards that were played the previous turn by pressing Square. Both of these are very important to know if you want to win.

There is a “Freesh” condition, but it’s not worth noting as it needs tremendous luck to pull off (a player must have only one king of a certain suit and no other card of that suit in his hand). Another special condition requires the player to either pass or bid 13 Tricks if he has 10 or more cards of the same suit. How lucky can you be?

The truth is I couldn’t understand the scoring system even if I tried; all I knew was the more Tricks I won, the better my score was. I even ignored how my teammate was doing!  Heck, reading the scoring system induces headache with all of its special conditions and weird formulas. All I know is it has a connection with the pre-game bidding.

The high score table is based on winning streaks. Damn, winning a single game is a chore already, as each round takes a lot of time to play. Another misstep of this game: there are no difficulty levels to choose from. There are no special achievements to get. Nothing else to do but string together hours and hours of Basha Tarneeb.

This game might excite those who are in search of strategic card games, but as soon as you know how to play the game, there’s nothing else to do but play the game for eternity. Let us not forget the poor nonexistent implementation of teamplay. Basha Tarneeb is perpetually boring, as the game relies on luck (or your incompetence) more than strategy. And I am not buying this for three-and-a-half quid.


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2 Responses to “Basha Tarneeb Review—Lacking”
  1. JeremyR says:

    I wonder why they bothered to release each game separately, when they released a collection of all three?

    Anyway, I liked the presentation of the games. So many card games are sterile, with “Computer Player 1″ and “Computer Player 2″.


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  1. [...] about games where you don’t have a fucking clue what they are and how they are played: Basha Tarneeb, Basha Trix, Basha Baloot, and Basha Card Game [...]

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