It is a just a simple cube movement game; how hard can it be...actually...quite challenging.
I am a big fan of abstract strategy games, and this one really caught my eye at PAX Unplugged 2022. I got the run down from the guy running the booth, and I was hooked and knew I really needed to give this game a try. It is really clever and definitely challenging once you get a few moves in and find the symbol you need is on the complete opposite side of the cube.
The game comes in a very reasonably sized box for the components coming in at roughly 11x11x2.5 inches. It is has a nice cover that almost have a classy feel to it for a game. You are able to see two of the wooden cubes through the plastic on the front. I was not the biggest fan of the insert used to keep the cubes from shifting in the box; I found the way I would normally put the game away allows too much shifting around. To be fair though, I was given the copy that was used for demos all weekend so I don't actually know how the game was originally packaged when brand new. With a round of trial and error, I did find a way that packs away neatly, but it isn't the way I would normally think to pack it. Really, this is super minor, but I wanted to provide a picture in case this is not the way it ships.
The game includes:
- One Wooden Game Board
- Eight Wooden Cubes - There are two sets of cubes in different colors (Four Gold and Four Turquoise); each of the cubes have six sets of symbols on the sides. These symbols will be further discussed below.
And that is it. The board and game pieces are all a nice wood that looks very nice and feel good using. The paint on the cubes seem well done and don't appear to be very prone to chipping if taken care of. This is a very good quality component.
The core game play is pretty simple to understand; the challenge is being able to move the pieces in the right way to get the symbols you need where you need them. The goal is to get all of your cubes off the board. This is done by getting your cubes to the other players STAR and being able to tip each cube into the STAR space with the Star on the cube being face up.
Players will exchange each others cubes and give them a roll to randomize their sides. After the cubes are handed back their players, they are places on the diagonal spaces beside the STAR they are defending. You are then ready to begin. They recommend the youngest player goes first during the first game; otherwise, whoever won the last game goes first.
- The active player tips one of their cubes into an open space on the board.
- Next, perform the action associated with the specific symbol while keeping the faceup symbol on top and not rotating/twisting the cube in any way.
- Cross: Move one space to an vertically or horizontally adjacent free space.
- X: Move one space to an diagonal free space.
- Slider (Diamond): Slide all the way in a horizontal or vertical direction until hitting another cube or the edge of the board. It must move at least one space. Cannot stop on the STAR space; it will stop just before the STAR space if and only if it would have otherwise been stopped on the STAR space.
- Hoops (three circles): Move three spaces into vertically or horizontally adjacent free spaces (may hop back into a space it was just on).
- Stop (Hex with a dot): No additional movement; turn is over.
- Star: May only be tipped with this side face up into a STAR space to allow the cube to be removed from the board. The only other time the Star side may be face up is if it is randomly rolled at the beginning of the game.
It is possible for a player to be trapped and unable to perform any actions; if this happens, the freed player keeps taking turns until the situation has changed allowing the other player to escape.
Star Space Restrictions
Clearly, the goal is to get the cubes to "tip" into the STAR space with their Star side face up. This is not possible is the opponent sits in the space blocking it. Therefore, no cube can end their movement into the STAR space or even be tipped into star space. The Hop and Slide can go through the STAR space though. No cube can be in
The first player to get their last cube off the board is the winner!
There are two option variant modes described in the rules that only alter the gameplay slightly.
The first is using less blocks. This can be used as a way of providing handicaps when playing against more skilled players. When less cubes are used, there are recommended starting formations provided.
Additionally, there is an option to prohibit other player cubes from being vertically or horizontally adjacent to each other (diagonal is fine). This makes the game trickier and those slides harder to take full use of.
This is truly a clever abstract strategy game that has a classy look and feel to it. It is deceptively challenging, and I love when something so simple is also so complex. This is definitely a game geared towards your chess players or anyone who really enjoy a good one vs one challenge. I really don't have anything negative to say about this game beyond it took me a minute or two to find the best way to re-pack the game the first time. Definitely look into Deblockle if you like abstract strategy games.
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