Tabletop Time – Mikado

Tabletop Time - Mikado 1

So What is Mikado?

Mikado, not the chocolate treat, is easily one of the most annoying but incredibly amusing games out there. Not quite a “board” game so to speak, but certainly a game you must have a table top or floor to play on! Anything flat, really. It’s basically as it looks…a bunch of sticks which, once set up, you have to pick up. Pick-up sticks!

It originates from Europe and got its name from the highest scoring stick “Mikado”, formerly the English name for the Emperor of Japan.

How Do You Play It?

So a classic game of Mikado contains 41 sticks that are coloured with different values that have a total of 170 points. These sticks are also about 15cm long and very, very annoying…

The sticks are usually bundled together at the beginning of the game and taken in one hand so they touch the table or ground. Doing so creates a circular jumble that in some cases can be the hardest or the easiest game of your life. The idea is to pick up one stick at a time without moving any of the others and trust me, if you’re anything like me (Kelly) then it’s almost impossible to pick them up without luck…I suck so bad at it. Sooo soo bad…oh my god my first game was a total disaster. I literally got points based on luck and how much people pitied me!

Anyway… so the take away is only possible by hand, no cheating! Unless of course you pick up the special one. This stick is called the Mikado, go figure, and makes it possible for you to use it to help you pick up other sticks. Handy right?! On a fault (so moving a stick) the turn ends and the next player bundles and drops the sticks again. After a few rounds the one with the highest score is the winner.

You could, however, make it challenging and not reset the bundle of sticks after a fault…this really does create difficulty and can lead to a rather hilarious game.

Tabletop Time - Mikado 3

Box Contents

1 Mikado stick (blue striped) – 20pts

5 Madarin sticks (yellow/black, middle wide two narrow stripes on the ends) – 10pts

5 Bonzen sticks (orange, five stripes) – 5pts

15 Samurai (green, three stripes) – 3pts

15 Kuli/Worker (red, two stripes) – 2pts

Tabletop Time - Mikado 4

Pros & Cons


  • It’s fun as a group
  • Can be incredibly amusing to play
  • The rules are so simple, that you can just leap right into it
  • Easy setup, basically just drop some sticks


  • You cannot use the sticks as toothpicks
  • From the outside looking in playing looks a bit silly, but then again that is where often the most fun lies anyways
  • You may get irritated when trying to pick up a stick you just keep moving

What Made You Play It?

We were over at friends and one said “hey, let’s go old-school!” and he pulled out a little box titled ‘The Stick Game’ another fine naming for this game called Mikado. We then went on going full-out concentration mode with every stick we picked up until the nerve sweats were noticeable on our foreheads. We went on till the table was fully cleared of the rubble that was the sticks, once that final stick was lifted and added to the victory stock we finally went all savage and roared like the mighty lions we were to announce our conquest of this mighty battlefield of sticks. Thus passed the first group play of Mikado.

Tabletop Time - Mikado 2

Would You Recommend It?

Yes, sticks also deserve the decency of being neatly stacked instead of being left in a shameful pile of chaos. It is up to you to fulfil this important duty to pick up these sticks and make this world a better place to life in where all sticks are equally placed with greatest care. You will have bragging rights after you win the game by ploughing over the battlefield of sticks thanks to your superior dexterity and greater tactical insights. There shall be great beer fests in the halls of Valhalla in your name and …. Ok enough of that, just don’t poke each other in the eyes with the sticks and you’ll have silly fun.

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