Wednesday 28 January 2015

Review - Cover-Up (aka Hepta)


Designed by Alex Randolph
Published by Ideal
For 1 or 2 players, aged 6 to adult

Cover-Up Game
My charity shop copy, complete with free stains.

Life is full of little embarrassments. At least, my life is.

And that's not a euphemism.

I manage to embarrass myself with such unnerving regularity, if I thought about it too much I would never leave the house.

And I'm not talking about major faux-pas here.

I mean the little stuff.

Like being a writer, but still having to double-check if the plural form of "faux pas" is actually "faux pas."

Like getting into a taxi and forgetting your house number at the exact moment the driver asks where you want to go.

Like finding an old picture of you when you looked slightly different. *

But recently I was subjected to one of the most humiliating things ever: getting beaten in a two-player abstract game by my four-year-old daughter.

And I don't mean I threw the match to make her feel good.

I mean I lost.

I lost in a "best of five" contest.

So, I actually lost three times.

Three times.

All joking aside, I am actually very proud of my daughter for genuinely beating her old man. It's nice to see her developing as a games player, and as a little person in general. And, you know, I'm getting used to embarrassment.

But seriously...


The game in question is Cover-Up, a curious little game that my wife found for me in a charity shop, and which I honestly expected to be a bit shit.

Turns out, I was actually wrong.

So, what does Cover-Up bring to the table, other than a name that sounds like something Mary Whitehouse would shout at a Page 3 girl?

Let me explain...

Also known as Hepta, this is a tight little two-player game that involves tile laying and spatial awareness. The board is moulded plastic, and features a pattern of raised dots in different colours that looks like something Damien Hirst might make. There are exactly seven dots of each colour, in what at first appears to be a random configuration.

Cover-Up Board
It's a work of art.

One player gets seven straight tiles, and the other player gets seven "L" shaped tiles. All of the tiles cover exactly three dots.

Now, here's the science bit:

One player picks a colour. For the duration of the game, neither player is allowed to place a tile so that it would cover up a dot of that colour. Players then take it in turns to place a tile. The first person who cannot legally place a tile (i.e., me) loses the game.

It is really that simple.

In fact, it is so simple, the "advanced rules" for the game are, "play the best of five games."

Not even kidding.

Cover-Up Rules
Rules in the box lid. That's old school.

But, in an age when games are increasingly complicated, it is refreshing to play something you can explain to a four-year-old in under a minute, but which still actually quite good fun, and even a little bit "thinky."

I taught the game to my daughter by letting her choose a tile shape, then letting her choose a colour. Then I told her we had to take turns placing tiles, without covering up her chosen colour. And that was all it took.

She now requests to play the game daily, and considering a single match lasts no more than five minutes, it is easy to play "best of five" no matter how busy your day is.

Cover-Up game in progress
I'm already losing.

As a little bonus, the game also has a solo variant. The aim is to select one colour, and then place every single tile on the board so that only the seven dots of that colour are showing.

No. I haven't managed to do it.

Yes. I suspect my daughter could.

Little show off.

So, what have we learned today?

We've learned that it is possible to find good stuff in charity shops sometimes; we've learned that I embarrass myself more than seems humanly feasible; and we've learned my daughter is cleverer than me.

Oh yeah, and we've learned that Cover-Up is an okay game. It is quick, simple, and suitable for all ages. Certainly worth a look, but not something that is ever going to be considered a real "gem" in a games collection. The only major downside is that it is a colour-based game, and that means people who are colour blind are going to have a hard time of it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to arm wrestle my daughter.

* And like putting an asterisk next to jokes you have stolen from Reeves and Mortimer, just in case someone notices that you stole them.


  1. You have yet to suffer the purest, most embarrasing form, of paternal humilliation: filial condescension. That day when your child says: ok dad, I'll let you win this play.

  2. Your review is entertaining but you omit one of the more sophisticated aspects of the "game." Your four year old might have a bit of trouble solving the seven puzzles designed by Alex Randolph - to place (all) fourteen pieces on the board leaving just one color visible.

    1. Actually, I didn't omit that, as stated in the review:

      "As a little bonus, the game also has a solo variant. The aim is to select one colour, and then place every single tile on the board so that only the seven dots of that colour are showing.

      No. I haven't managed to do it.

      Yes. I suspect my daughter could.

      Little show off."


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