The quiz picture is a game I keep bringing to the club but has only been played once there. It deserves more.
Last time the picture was one of the many maps available for Railway Rivals a game from my younger days which was instrumental in my current passion for boardgames. Railway Rivals was a main feature of British gaming for a number of years appearing in most postal gaming zines in the 80's and 90's where it was highly suited due to the downtime there can be between turns. It was Game of the Year winner in 1984 and designed by David Watts who designed a number of interesting games from his base in South Wales.
With little time this week I will take the easy option of putting the spotlight on Tantrix a route-laying abstract strategy game from 1991 that was played as a warm-up game on table 1. Players begin the game by choosing one of four colours (red, green, yellow or blue) and then taking six hexagonal tiles into hand, each of the 56 tiles in the game have 3 of the 4 colours represented on them as a path, either a straight line, a shallow curve or a sharp curve and no two paths share the same edge.
The aim of the game is simple, it is to score the most points from one of your colour paths, it can come either from your longest line (1 point per tile) or your longest completed loop (2 points per tile). Game play is straightforward in that when a tile is played all paths attached must link directly to paths of the same colour and no tile can be played to create a hole of 4 or more sides. The key to the game is “Forced Spaces” these are where gaps are created of 3 sides, whenever a player starts their turn they must first fill in all forced spaces replacing the used tile on each occasion however the forced spaces left to the player may be filled in any order, only when there are no viable forced spaces left can the player play their one tile after which they must again deal with all forced spaces before it becomes the next players turn.
I have played and lost many games of this 2-player to know there is a strong element of skill in creating and dealing with the forced spaces and perhaps knowing all the tiles in the game would also give a player an edge however 4-player personal control is quite limited. My original version of this game was just the game, later editions now come with a set of puzzles to solve which are for solo play. I would rate this quite highly as an introduction abstract game, it is colourful, the rules are quite simple and it plays in about 20 minutes it can also become quite a deep game played 2-player.