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Flashback: Tantrix

[No Gamers Alliance celebration would be complete without something from Sid Sackson. Sid was a valued contributor to these pages for over 9 years. So, to mark our 100th issue, we are going back into the files to reprint a review Sid did of a quality abstract game – still available – in which he not only discusses the game but, in typical Sackson fashion, offers improvements to make the gaming experience that much better. From the Fall 1995 issue, here is Sid’s take on Tantrix.]

(Family Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, less than 30 minutes; about $25)

 

Reviewed by Sid Sackson

tantrixAt first glance, you might think that Tantrix is a new member of the Psyche-Paths/Kaliko family but, other than the common use of hexagonal tiles, they are quite different. 56 attractive plastic tiles are provided, all having 3 paths of different colors connecting the 6 edges. The various patterns and the lack of one color makes each tile unique.

Two, three or four play, each choosing a color. From the face down tiles, the players take 6 and place them face up in clear view of all players. In turn, tiles are placed to the center of the able. When edges touch, the colors must match. As a tile is played, it is immediately replaced.

When three tiles surround an empty space, it creates a “force move”. If, at any time during a player’s turn, there are one or more “forces” showing, the player must check each one to see if he/she has a tile that will fit. Having any, it must be played. Once during a turn, a player makes a “free move”. Depending on the placement, another “force” could be created etc.

Certain moves are restricted: creating an empty space with more than two paths of the same color leading to it, creating an empty space with four tiles surrounding it, forming a row of two or more adjacent “forced moves” surrounded by three tiles at each end (don’t worry, you’ll recognize it when you see it). After all of the tiles have been picked up, the restrictions are removed.

When all of the tiles have been placed, the player with the most tiles in a continuous line of his/her color is the winner, except that each tile in a loop counts double.

We have come up with a few variations that make it easier to get into the game. You can use from one of them up to all of them or none.

1. After a “free move”, the player’s turn ends, even if the replacement would allow a “forced move”.

2. The “forced moves” become “optional moves”. A player may use them to get more plays but doesn’t have to.

3. After all of the tiles have been taken, a player with tiles remaining may choose to drop out.

4. In scoring, each connected line of three or more tiles, including loops, are counted for each player. The player with the longest line scores a bonus of 6 points. In case of ties, the bonuses are split between the tying players. High score wins.

 


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