Monthly Archives: September 2015

City SquareOff: Simple yet challenging

city

Gamewright Games has an incredible variety of games in their product product line. They have card games, dice games, silly games for children, cooperative games and more. Jason Schneider is the driving force behind their games. Jason has a keen eye for exciting new games. He is also a New York Toy Fair legend. It’s said that Jason can teach someone 10 games in 10 minutes. Maybe it’s Jason quest to be able to teach a game a minute or maybe it’s just understanding the customer. Either way, it’s the reason Gamewright’s games are known for being easy to learn. City Square is no exception.

The game is themed as a city building game. However, it’s really just a simple tile laying game. Each player gets a set of 21 tiles to place on their 9 by 9 grid. The 21 tiles are all different shapes and cover between 1 and 5 spaces on the player’s grid. There is also a deck of 21 cards. Each card represents one of the tiles.

The game begins with each player choosing 1 of 4 different city tiles. These are 5 space tiles of different shapes. It’s this starting move the makes each players board slightly different. Each game turn consists of a card being drawn from the deck and both players then must add the corresponding tile to their grid. Tiles cannot be moved once placed and the new tile must fit completely within the 9 by 9 grid.

The game ends when a player cannot legally add the current tile to their grid. If both players cannot add the new tile then the winner is the player with the largest contiguous group of tiles. If that is also a tie, then you look at the 2nd largest group and so on. It’s that simple.

At first glance you might think this is just a rip-off of Blokus Duo from Mattel. What makes this different is unlike the Blokus line of games, each player in City SquareOff has their own board. This makes the game less of an attack the other player affair then Blokus. If you liked the tile laying strategy of Blokus but didn’t like the attack the other player’s position aspect of it then you’ll absolutely love City SquareOff.

One limitation of the game is it only allows for 2 players. That can easily be solved by using a second copy when playing with 3 or 4 players.

Game length runs about 15-20 minutes, provided that neither player suffers from the dreaded analysis paralysis syndrome.

The box says recommended for ages 8 and up. The game is simple enough that younger players should be able to handle it.

Fits by Ravensburger: Will the Real Knizia Please Stand Up

fitsDr. Reiner Knizia is one of the greatest game designers in the world. The good doctor has given us some solid gold masterpieces such as Tigris and Euphrates, Ra and Einfach Genial. At the same time the name Knizia adorns some of the most mundane games such as Easy Come, Easy Go, Fish Eat Fish and Mio. It’s almost as if there are two Knizias designing games: the utterly brilliant Reiner and his somewhat less brilliant, half-brother, Ralph. Reiner is simply too smart to have given us the likes of Mio and Callisto. Those must really have been the work of Ralph Knizia.

As an aside, if you really want to learn more about Ralph’s handiwork you can check out this review:

http://www.examiner.com/board-game-in-raleigh/mio-by-reiner-knizia-haven-t-i-seen-this-before-review

When I opened the box for Fits, as I do when checking out any Knizia game for the first time, I wondered to myself “Will this be a Reiner Kniza masterpiece or another Ralph Knizia dud?”

Fits – The Game:

Think of Fits as Tetris, the boardgame. Each player has 16 tiles of different shapes that they will slide onto their board, Ala Tetris. The tiles can be rotated in any way before being placed. The game consists of 4 rounds, each with a slightly different board and different task. In round one you are attempting to leave the fewest uncovered spaces. In round two several spaces award bonus points if they are left uncovered. Round three adds in both positive and negative bonus point spaces. In round four there are 5 pairs of symbols. If you leave a pair of symbols uncovered you get bonus points. However, if you cover only 1 of the symbols then you lose points.

The game is controlled by a deck of cards. There is 1 card for each of the 16 types of tiles and on each turn a card is drawn and all players then have to add that tile to their board. The game box says it’s for ages 8 and up. I’m sure the average 6 year old could easily figure it out.

So which Knizia is it?

Now if Ralph designed this game the rules description would end right here. At this point, an astute reader would say, “Duh!, If every player put their tiles in the same spot, we’d have a tie every time.” It would be like a really painful version of Tic-Tac-Toe. Thus, it would be so like Ralph. However, there is one little wrinkle. The game also has 4 “starting” cards. Each of these cards shows a different tile. At the start of each round, each player is dealt one of these cards. They then start the round by placing that tile. Later, when that tile is drawn from the deck, they don’t place anything on that turn. In this way, each player starts with a different setup. It’s such a simple detail. It’s brilliant. It’s so Reiner.

Playing time is about 45 minutes. If you want a quicker game you can decide to skip 1 or more rounds.

Very Highly Recommended.