Rielekst is publishing three two-player abstract titles under the label epstRekt and I had the pleasure of playing two of them during the latest edition of the Spellenspektakel (a Dutch board game fair) and I like to discuss them briefly in One Play Post: Number Eight.
The first one is Samsara from designer Thomas Weber. In this game you try to get as many marbles in your hole at your side of the board. When you move a marble onto the cutout, you get a point and you move your white marble one spot closer to the centre. The first player to get to the centre, wins the game.
There are no personal marbles, you use every marble on the board. Every turn you roll two dice. Lets say, you’ve rolled a four and a three. You then have the option to move one marble three and another marble four spots, or you move only one marble seven spots. If you end your move on another marble, you have to change rows. You can also change rows at the beginning of your movement; if there’s a marble right next to the marble you want to move, you switch rows and start your move in the adjacent row.
I like this one. At first I thought; ‘What can be fun about rolling two dice a moving some marbles?’ But the movement rules, the way the path goes in a circle and the fact that both players use the same marbles make this game really interesting. You must not only think about what is beneficial to you, but also you have to consider what your opponent can do with the marbles you’ve just moved considering the way the marbles can use each other when switching rows . It’s a nice combination of a little luck and tactics.
I also played Pulce, a Halma variant for two players from Frank Stark. Your goal is to get your pieces to the other side of the board. One after the other, players must move one piece to an adjacent empty socket or jump over another piece into an empty socket behind it. Consecutive jumps are also allowed and you can even change direction during your jump. However, the target sockets must be always accessed orthogonally and you can never move a piece that is already in its destination socket.
When a player gets all his pieces into a destination socket, the game ends and the players get point according to the distribution of their pieces.
This one did not make my heart skip. It’s nice that it’s small and portable, so it would probably make a nice travelling game. However, the gameplay just wasn’t at all exciting, it felt a bit old-fashioned.
The last one I have not played and I regret it. It was on the Spiel des Jahres Game of the Year recommended list of 2013. I should have known better.
It looked very nice and pretty fun. This game is called Mixtour and the designer is Dieter Stein. The goal of the game is to build towers of at least five pieces. You start with an empty board and in your turn, you have two options. The first option is to take a new pieces and put it on an empty space on the board. The second option is to move a tower. Towers may be split, you can move pieces of any colour and you must end your move on another tower. The amount of spaces you may move depends on the height of the target tower. If that tower has a height of three, you must move a tower onto that spot that is three spaces away.
Every tower of five is removed from the game and the player who owns the top piece, scores one point and wins the game.
This looks and sounds like a really cool abstract game and hopefully I can play it some day.