Menu

PENTAGO

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(MindtwisterUSA, 2 players, ages 6 and up, 3-30 minutes; $24.95)

 

Some game conventions encourage you to sit down and play games. But the New York International Toy Fair doesn’t quite work like that. While there are miles of aisles of displays and no shortage of people who will tell you how a game plays and demonstrate it for you, it’s an uncommon experience to actually sit down and play a game or two. But that is precisely what I did this year when Pentago caught my eye.

Pentago is the brainchild of Tomas Floden and its small (and heavy) box holds a six by six grid divided into four three by three quadrants as well as 36 marbles (18 black and 18 white) nestled below its base with a slight rulebook and strategy guide included.

Players take turns placing marbles on the grid. The twist (or “mindtwist”, if you prefer) to the game is that not only do you place a marble anywhere on the grid on your turn but you may also rotate ANY one of the quadrants 90 degrees. The first player to create a line of 5 of his color marbles in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally, wins!

The beauty of the game is that, truly, you can learn the rules in minutes. It’s putting them to good use that is the challenge. Pentago relies heavily on tactics. As the board can shift on every turn, you have to try to set up a situation where TWO avenues will remain open for you to place a fifth marble no matter how a quadrant is shifted. Staying a move or two ahead of your opponent is necessary. If you get fixated on your own movements and grand plans, your opponent will place five in a row in a blink of an eye leaving you scratching your head wondering what happened. The fact that the game plays quickly is a big plus. It lets you get in another session. Like potato chips, you just want one more.

Pentago arrived in New York by way of Sweden where it won “Game of the Year” honors. The American market may be a harder nut to crack. Abstract games challenging you to get five in a row are nothing new. Pegity by Parker Brothers did this back in 1939. Moving quadrants has been done before too such as with Panic Button published by Mego in 1978. But Pentago melds the two ideas smoothly while giving players more control of quadrant movement. Here, the player chooses which quadrant to twist while Mego’s game shifted them all simultaneously! And all in a very attractive package. The use of blonde woods for the board reflects the game’s Scandinavian roots although the game actually is available in three different motifs, two wooden varieties and a red/black combination. The relatively small size gives the game portability but the heft correctly implies that the game itself is substantial. Currently, Pentago is only available in Norway, Sweden and Denmark but, as evidenced by its Toy Fair presence, efforts are being made to widen its audience including an English language web site (www.pentago.com). If you have even a passing interest in abstract games, keep an eye out for Pentago. – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Spring 2006 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy (TriKing Games/The History Channel, 2 players, less than 30 minutes; Starter packs - $12.99 each) Going back in time and playing "what if?" history is something that has appealed to people since forever! What if great warriors from the past met in combat against each other? A tantalizing question for which there is no definitive answer. But, in an unusual partnership ...
Read More
(In our quest to find fresh and intelligent voices about games, we welcome Chris Kovac, a gamer from our neighbor to the north, Canada. Chris writes: "I have been a gamer since my University Days in the 1980's. Initially a wargamer, I was converted over to Euro Games by a friend when he introduced me to Homas Tour (The Bicycle Racing Game) in about 1992 ...
Read More
Reviewed by Ben Baldanza (Abacus, 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; about $30) Ah, to live in a mansion in sunny California! Everyone gets their shot at this dream in California, this new game from Michael Schacht. But the bad news is that the mansion needs a lot of work. Rooms must be renovated and furniture acquired and, of course, this means spending ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Hangman Games, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; $30) Alan Ernstein has presented us with several well received games over the last few years including Tahuantinsuyu (Summer 2004 GA REPORT) and Ars Mysteriorum (Summer 2005 GA REPORT). This time, Ernstein dips into his bag of tricks to bring out a "sparkling" game combining crystals and deal making in Crystal ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Warren, 2-6 players, adult, 30-60 minutes; $24.99) Whenever an intellectual property strikes a massively responsive chord in popular culture, you can be sure games based on that property will appear in its wake. We've seen this before with comic characters, TV shows and, certainly, with books turned to films (e.g. Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings). So it should be ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Lookout Games; 2-3 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; about $50) Ancient Rome in general and the quest to become ruler of the Roman Empire in particular, have long been popular themes for games. In Das Ende des Triumvirats, designed by Johannes Ackva and Max Gabrian, that theme is tackled once again with some unique and challenging twists. Das Ende ...
Read More
Weather? Whether or Not? In the aftermath of the 2006 New York International Toy Fair, I found myself faced with two questions: Whether? and Whether or Not? As the Fair opened this year, there was a lot of uncertainty as to its future. Some Fair participants had voiced a wish to move the Fair, which called New York City home for over 100 years, to ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games; 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, about 45 minutes; $24.95) One of the most popular and respected creations of the prolific Reiner Knizia is Euphrat & Tigris, a true gamer's game that challenges the most hardened Euro style game player (and featured in the Spring 1998 GA REPORT). Euphrates & Tigris: Contest of Kings is Knizia's ...
Read More
(With the Euphrat & Tigris: Contest of Kings card game getting feature treatment this issue, we though it would be a good idea to see how its parent game, Euphrat & Tigris, was received back when Kban gave it a good look in the Spring 1998 GA REPORT) EUPHRAT & TIGRIS (Hans im Glück, 3-4 players, 60-90 minutes) Reiner Knizia has been one of Germany's ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (MindtwisterUSA, 2 players, ages 6 and up, 3-30 minutes; $24.95) Some game conventions encourage you to sit down and play games. But the New York International Toy Fair doesn't quite work like that. While there are miles of aisles of displays and no shortage of people who will tell you how a game plays and demonstrate it for you, it's an ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Otero Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 to adult, about 30 minutes; $19.95) Abstract games are a genre of play that attracts devoted fans. One of the better new entries in this field is called Roundabout. As you might suspect from the name, the goal is to get your pieces around and about the board. Roundabout comes with four sets of game ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SHEAR PANIC (Fragor Games, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, about 45 minutes; about $50) I've written literally hundreds of reviews of games over the years consisting of a couple of million words. But I'm about to use a word that I have NEVER used in all those reviews over all that time. Adorable. The pieces used in Shear Panic are ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Days of Wonder, 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, 30-60 minutes; $39.95) Some companies have been fortunate in finding a game with the strength and popular acceptance to not only create a loyal following but serve as a springboard for variations on that game's popular theme. Mayfair has The Settlers of Catan (Fall 1996 GA REPORT), Rio Grande has Carcassonne (Summer ...
Read More
Reviewed by Jon Waddington (GMT Games, 2 players, about 3 hours; $57) Nominally, Twilight Struggle is a wargame about the Cold War. For those too young or too distracted to remember, the Cold War was the conflict following World War II between the forces of capitalism (with the United States taking the lead for the West) and communism (with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ...
Read More

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!