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FITS

Reviewed by Herb Levy

FITS (Ravensburger, 1-4 players, ages 8 and up, 30-45 minutes; $32.95 )

 

The computer game Tetris was a huge hit several decades ago. It even spawned a boardgame version way back when, a version good enough to attract our attention and earn feature treatment in a review written by Sid Sackson in the Fall 1990 issue of Gamers Alliance Report. Despite its age, a good thing never gets old and variations on a theme are nothing new in the World of Games. Inspired byTetris, award winning designer Reiner Knizia has decided to offer his own take on it in his new game from Ravensburger: FITS.

FITS comes with 64 game tiles (16 each in blue, red, yellow and green), 4 “ramps” with transparent covers, 8 game boards (double-sided boards that fit into the ramps and under their transparent covers), 16 building cards and 4 starting cards. FITS stands for “Fill In The Spaces” and that is precisely what you trying to do.fits

Each player takes his colored set of pieces and matching color ramp and is dealt a starting card. The card depicts the piece that is placed first on that player’s ramp. The deck of building cards is shuffled and, one at a time, a card is turned up. The game tile matching the revealed building card must now be placed on all the ramps of the players.

All players play the same tile simultaneously. Should the card display a player’s starting tile, he does nothing. (After all, that tile has been played already.) Should a card display a tile that a player cannot or does not want to play, that tile may be discarded. Once all the building cards have been revealed and the tiles played (or discarded), players score.

Scoring depends on which game board is being used. The game comes with four different boards with similar but by no means identical scoring. The first board is relatively plain, consisting of 12 rows, six spaces wide. Each space is filled with a dot. You score one point for each row that is completely filled with your tiles. The catch? For each dot that is NOT uncovered. You LOSE 1 point!

The level of difficulty tends to increase with each board. Board 2 is peppered with spaces worth positive points, from 1 to 3. Again, the board gets filled with tiles but this time, only those numbered spaces remaining uncovered score points. And again, uncovered dots cost a player 1 point each. Board 3, has both positive point spaces (from 1 to 3) and negative point spaces (all of them -5). Only uncovered point spaces (positive or negative) score and, again, uncovered dots lose a player 1 point each. The final board replaces numbers with symbols. Players attempt to cover spaces selectively. A pair of matching symbols scores + 3 points. But if only one of a symbol remains uncovered, that player LOSES 3 points. And, yes, uncovered dots cost 1 point each. The player with the most points after four rounds of plays earns the victory.

One of the things that makes FITS so interesting and challenging is the restriction on tile placement. The temptation here is to “airlift” a piece to fill a gap. Tempting but NOT ALLOWED! Pieces are placed by SLIDING them down the ramp into the desired position. You are allowed to turn tiles any which way but they must slide into the desired fit. This can create gaps, useful when playing boards where you are trying to leave point scoring spaces uncovered; deadly when dots or negative numbers are left open. The dealing out of starting tile cards is a simple but excellent idea as it guarantees that players’ boards will start out differently. (This can be built upon by choosing several other tile cards from the deck and distributing them as starting cards. However, avoid some of the more challenging shapes such as the “x” or the “w” as this would put the unlucky player receiving them in the unenviable position of having gaps on his board before he even gets started!)

Part of the beauty of the design is that the rules are simple and very easy to understand, making the game very accessible for children, families and non-gamers. The other part is the nice, solid production that is both sturdy and colorful. Be forewarned that, just like the original Tetris, the game is very spatial. Those of us who find spatial games not to our liking will tend to shy away from this one. That being said, FITS has an addictive quality, a good thing when it comes to games. Reportedly, more boards are in the offing, giving additional variety to play as “booster packs” of new boards will certainly fit.

FITS is a game that is perfect as an opener or closer on a game night as it’s fun, fast, colorful and challenging. It also “fits” the requirements of a family friendly game as rules can be learned in minutes and children and adults can compete on an equal footing. The game has been nominated for the Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year award) for 2009. Without question, the nomination FITS. – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

 

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