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Exago

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Goliath, 2 to 6 players, ages 7 and up, about 20 minutes; $29.95)

 

exago & BoxEver since Blokus (featured in the Fall 2002 GAMERS ALLIANCE REPORT) made a splash on the gaming scene, there seems to have been a surge in colorful geometrically shaped abstract games. Goliath, a Dutch company with aspirations towards expansion into the American market, offers yet another one: Exago.

Exago comes square boxed with a “slide together” plastic, gridded, board, 48 colorful plastic hex-shaped plastic tiles and rules (as evidence of its European origins) in six languages.

The board itself is a giant hexagon and the plastic tiles in red, green, blue, purple, yellow and orange are randomly placed along its perimeter. On the outside of this playing area are colored symbols matching the tile colors. The color of the symbol closest to where a player is sitting is now that player’s color. Starting with the youngest player, tile “reconfiguration” begins.

Initially, on his turn, a player will move one of his tiles from the perimeter to the center of the board. The following player does the same with the requirement that his tile MUST be placed adjacent to the previously played tile (touching one of its six sides). Play continues in this manner with the goal being to get FOUR of your tiles connected in a STRAIGHT line. But what happens when all the tiles have been played and no one has managed to get four in a row? Now the game adds a bit of depth to play.

Once all tiles have been played and the winning condition has not been reached, players may now REMOVE one of their tiles from the board and immediately place it elsewhere on the playing area. The “sting” here is that removal can result in a “disconnect” between groups of pieces. You could very easily – and most likely will – have an “island” of pieces separated from the main group. When this happens, ALL pieces in that island are immediately removed from the playing area. They go back to their owning players who may replay them on a later turn. More significantly, however, this “disconnect” opens up the playing area and creates new opportunities for four in a row connections.

Exago doesn’t break new ground in abstract gameplay. The “get your pieces in a row” abstract game has been done many times by such forerunners as the Asian classic Go-Moku, Pegity (Parker Brothers, 1925) and the more modern Pente (1977), all games which have predated this one by decades (and in the case of Go-Muku, centuries!). The game’s strength, however, is its style which makes it so appealing to its target audience: the casual gamer who likes a game that has a bit of strategy in an attractive, colorful package that is easy to learn, quick to play and suitable for both children and families. Exago is exactly that!

 


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