Thursday 12 May 2016

Review - Pentago

Designed by Tomas Floden
Published by Mindtwister AB
For 2 players, aged 8 to adult


I'm not a competitive person.

In fact, I bet I'm less competitive than you.

I'm probably the most least competitive person ever, and if you don't agree then we'll have to settle it with an arm wrestle.

I like to win, obviously.

Everybody likes to win.

Although, having said that, I am reminded of that joke about how there are certain activities where it's better to come second.

But anyway...

I like to win, but losing has never been a problem for me (which is just as well). As a wise doctor once said, "When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning."

I guess that's why I like cooperative games so much. It is a chance to do something I love, without feeling like it's necessary to crush the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of some of the most important people in my life.

I play games to have fun and relax, not to prove how awesome I am at arranging meeples on tiny farmyards; and a conversation after a game, where I talk about what I did wrong or what I could do differently, is much more satisfying to me than running around the table fist-pumping the air and shouting, "Booyah!"

But having said all that, I do like a good head to head challenge: an opportunity to face off against a single opponent.

Chess, Tash-Kalar, Claustrophobia, Space Hulk and Hive, are just a few of the competitive two-player games that I love.

Pentago is not a two-player game that I love.

Pentago box

Pentago is a very clever little filler game, which has a neat gimmick in the form of a board with four rotating sections.

I love a good gimmick.

The board is a six-by-six grid of recesses, divided into four rotating quarters. On your turn, you simply place a marble of your colour into one of the recesses, and then rotate one of the four board sections 90 degrees clockwise or counter clockwise.

This continues with players alternating turns, until one player has managed to create a line of five marbles, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.

It is incredibly simple, and fiendishly clever.

You can teach it to a new player in seconds, and games only take about 10 minutes to play. Well... unless you're playing me.

And here's the problem.

I am absolutely terrible at this game.

I mean awful to the point of farce.

A game of Pentago in progress

I have lost this game within a minute.

I have lost this game by the time my opponent has placed a fifth marble.

I have lost.

And lost.

And lost.

I have never won.

And despite my best efforts, I just don't seem to get any better at it. There is just something about the movement of the board, and the required spacial awareness, which leaves me bamboozled and flailing.

I don't even know why.

I'm pretty sure I'm not stupid. I regularly crush my opponents in games of Tash-Kalar or Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation.

But this game... Just a complete mental block.

Now, like I said, I am not a competitive person. I don't mind losing.

But when you are as terrible at something as I am at this, it becomes an exercise in frustration.

You aren't providing a challenge for your opponent, and nobody can really feel a sense of achievement by destroying someone who is so hopelessly inferior at something; so the game becomes boring.

Pentago placing pieces

But that is absolutely not a fault of the game.

That's all on me.

This is a great little game. It is beautifully presented, the rotating board works effortlessly, and even though it is a quick filler, there is plenty to think about. If you can find someone of a comparable skill level to play against, you can have a lot of fun with Pentago.

Just don't play it against me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm in the middle of a game of Chess with my five-year-old daughter.

She's winning. Obviously.


  1. I hunt for games at thrift stores. This one looks fun! Love your blog - blog name.

    1. A lot of the stuff in my collection came from charity shops, including this one.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


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