Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An ingenious solution

It should be readily apparent that we love playing games, and we're not going to stop just because we're travelling. However, traditional travel games don't really hold much appeal for us, and you can't really play Arkham Horror on your airplane tray tables (not even in first class). The solution for us is the unfortunately out of print travel edition of Reiner Knizia's Ingenious, a clever little tile laying game with Knizia's usual flair for creative mathematics and unusual score-keeping.

The game consists of a bag of double-hexagonal tiles, each printed with two colored symbols. The object of the game is to lay your tiles on the board in such a way that they create unbroken rows of the same color. When you place a new tile, you score points in each color based on the rows of that color that radiate out from the tile you placed. But, as usual with a Reiner Knizia game, there's a catch: at the end of the game, the color with your lowest score is the only one that counts, so you have to be careful to build up all your scores as evenly as possible.

It's great fun for two players, and it travels well, packed in a box not much larger than a paperback book, and taking up very little in the way of table space. In the travel edition, the tiles even lock to the board so you don't have to worry about them sliding around. You could probably even play this game in a car, as long as neither of you is driving...

Ingenious Challenges is a follow up to Ingenious which presents three different games based on the same idea of color matching and managing your score in the different colors as evenly as possible. It includes a Card Challenge, a Dice Challenge, and a Tile Challenge: all use the same colored symbols and a variation on the same scoring system, but they are subtly different enough that they don't seem like the same game with dice instead of cards or tiles.

Ingenious Challenges is also a great travel game, but for a different reason. Its relatively easy rules, bright colors, and complete lack of elves, space marines or Cthuloid monsters make it a nice game to play with the non-gamer friends and family you may be travelling to visit. And it comes in a very small box.

Rating: Ingenious 4 (out of 5)Ingenious Challenges 3 (out of 5) Both are great games, but the original is a bit more elegant.

Dates played: February 18 and March 8, 2014

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