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Shortly after I first discovered Boardgame Geek, I learned about a game called Take It Easy. It showed up on lists with other games I liked and was interested in and was basically a game that was recommended for someone with my tastes.
However, at the time, Take It Easy wasn’t the easiest game to pick up in the U.S. and I kept wondering how well a game like this worked. I mean, if everyone had the exact same options, wouldn’t everyone optimize in the same way and end up with basically the exact same board?
Well, long story short, I picked up the game (shortly before Fred got it and made it really easy to get in this country ) and found out that it was a lot of fun, popular with just about everyone from my family to hardcore gamers. And, yes, no one ever ended up with the same board.
In case you haven’t played Take It Easy, it is Bingo with strategy. All the players have their own board and place the same tiles in the same order, with some tiles always being left over. You try to create lines of one color that go all the way across the board to score points.
It’s the absolute pinnacle of multi-player solitaire. That’s a term I think that gets bandied about too much for games where most of the interaction is indirect. Just because you have to be clever about hurting people doesn’t make a game solitaire. In the case of Take It Easy, though, there is absolutely no interaction unless distracting other players with fisticuffs is part of your strategy.
There is competition, though, since you are keeping score. When you get to have winners and losers, there is competition.
As I mentioned, I have gotten a lot of play out of my copy. I even picked up Take It To The Limit, the sequel to Take It Easy, for when folks got bored with Take It Easy. That hasn’t happened yet so it still in the shrink wrap.
However, over the last couple years, I’ve noticed that there have been other games that share the same Bingo mechanic that Take It Easy uses. Every player has their own space and tiles are called out and everyone has their own puzzle to solve.
I personally have played Cities, FITS and Don Quixote which fit that description. I understand that BITS and Mosaix use the mechanism as well. I am sure that there are other games that I’ve never heard of that also use Bingo as the baseline mechanism. Mind you, all of the ones I have tried have had their own twists and none of them have been bad games, although I do think Don Quixote adds too much luck to the concept.
I am not saying that new games are bad or revisiting mechanics is bad. Heck, that’s part of the evolution of gaming. However, Take It Easy came out in 1983. Maybe I’ve just been completely missing other games but even Take It to the Limit came out more than twenty years later. That just seems like a long gap to rediscover the concept of blending Bingo with meaningful choices.
All of these games seem to have a fanbase. FITS was even nominated for the Spiel de Jahres. I'm glad they're out there and I've enjoyed playing the ones that I have played.
I just wonder what caused that light bulb to go off that made designers take a second look at Take It Easy after more than two decades. Was it that far ahead of its time?