Ingenious is an abstract game from Reiner Knizia from 2004 and this year we, gamers, celebrate its 10th anniversary (or not if you don’t like it of course). I’ve played the ‘real’ game only once, but the the iOS version a lot, a couple times Pass and Play and many times against the AI.
The rules are easy. There are six symbols and a game tile consists of two hexagons attached together in a straight line, with one symbol on each hexagon. The board is also a hexagon and it consists of multiple little hexagons.
Players start the game with six tiles, drawn from a bag. In your turn you place one tile on the board. When you do that, you might score some points. How? You score points if the symbols on your tile are adjacent to other symbols of the same kind. Look in all five direction and count the number of adjacent symbols that match the symbols you just placed. The total of all symbols in five directions make up the score for that symbol. Score both symbols on the tile this way and keep score by moving the counters on you scoreboard to the appropriate spot. Whenever you reach 18 points for one symbol, you may place a bonus tile.
Then you must draw new tiles until you have six tiles again or, if you don’t have any tile with your lowest scoring symbol, you may exchange all your tiles with new ones.
When players can’t place any tile on the board, the game is over. Then the payer with the highest lowest scoring symbol wins the game.
I like this game. The rules are easy and you can explain it in a minute or two. The game is fast as well, so you can play several games in a row in a short time.
When you play, there’s bit of luck with the tile drawing, but most of the game is about managing the tiles you have and smartly building patterns that will score you a lot of points without giving your opponents the opportunity to score even bigger. You have to keep an eye on your opponents scoreboard too to know what their lowest scores are, so you can potentially block symbols they need, because, remember it’s the highest lowest scoring player that wins the game. There’s no point in having eighteen points for one or more symbols when your lowest one scores only three points. It’s important for you to have a decent score in every colour, but, like I already said, blocking certain symbols is also the way to thwart your opponents.
Ingenious is just a very clever game, it works great with two players and I very much recommend it.
The iOS app is decent, the AI is not terribly challenging when you play on your own, but it’s OK. The rotation of the tiles could use some improvement. Pass and Play doesn’t do it for me in any app, so this one is not not an exception. I like to play a couple of games during my train ride from work to home, but do I recommend the app? No, yes, not really. It feels like it’s been put together too quickly. For me it works fine, but there are a lot of better ones out there.
Well, to end on a positive note. Ingenious, Genius, Einfach Genial, wherever you are, it’s just a good game.