Friday, 3 October 2014

Review - Interplay (a.k.a Puzzler)


Interplay / Puzzler
Designed by Philip Shoptaugh
Published by Philip Shoptaugh Games
For 2 players, aged 8 to adult

Interplay game
So sexy...

I don't really get days off. However, sometimes I get days where I do something I want to do, completely ignoring all the vitally important things I need to do. I usually suffer for those days in the long run.

But what do I do on one of these near-mythical not days off?

Well, anyone who has taken more than a casual glance on the Always Board games collection knows the answer: I hit charity shops and discount stores in search of rare, out of production, and obscure board games.

Because I'm weird.

Luckily, my wife is weird too... Just don't let her know I said that. If she is out and about on one of her not days off, she will also visit charity shops and discount stores. And it is thanks to my wife that I have in my possession, a little oddity called Puzzler... er... Interplay.

No, Puzzler.


Definitely Interplay.

I think.

This is actually a very portable little travel game. It comes in a hot pink (sexy) plastic case, with Puzzler printed on the front; but when you open the lid you are presented with rules and plastic components for the game Interplay.

Puzzler is Interplay
Wait... What? Interplay? But I thought...

So, Puzzler or Interplay... Is it any good?

Actually, kind of...

It's a two-player abstract game in which each player has 18 playing pieces with which to make a winning formation. These pieces comprise 10 narrow pegs, four hollow cylinders, and four solid cylinders.

On your turn, you simply place any one piece on the board. You can place a peg in any empty space, or inside one of your opponent's hollow cylinders. Similarly, you can place one of your hollow cylinders in an empty space or around one of your opponent's pegs. Obviously, solid cylinders can only go in empty spaces.

Once all of your pegs are in play, you can move them around on the board; and once all of your cylinders are in play, you can move those around the board too.

Your aim is to create one of three formations, each comprising five of your pieces in a straight line. Formations always have a peg at either end, but have different combinations of cylinders and pegs in the middle.

Interplay travel game
Up, up, and Interplay.

Of course, the most interesting aspect of the game is that it is possible to share a space with your opponent, and when this happens, each piece counts for the respective player. This makes blocking formations more difficult than you might think, and it is not uncommon for games to end quickly if one player (i.e. me) gets caught out doing a stupid move.

And... Yeah... It's okay.

It would be perfect for taking camping (not that I would ever go camping), or for playing in a bar (not that I would ever play games in a bar), as there are no cardboard components to get damp. But a game that isn't soggy is dry by definition, and this game is as dry as it gets, even by the standards of most abstract games.

That being said, I'm not really a pure abstract kind of guy, so I'm not the target audience; but with games like Hive, Chess, Shing Shang, and Pentago on my shelf, Interplay just isn't going to get much of a look in.

I would say it is mildly distracting at best, which for a game in hot pink packaging seems to be the biggest crime of all.

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