Sometimes you find a game that surprises you, something that you didn’t have high expectations for but turns out to be much better than you thought it would be. Sometimes, there are games that you’re almost embarrassed to admit that you like but you like them anyway.
Twin Win managed to hit both of those spots for me.
It is a ‘free’ game from Looney Labs. As long as you had at least one Treehouse set, you can play it and you can download the rules for nothing more than the price of electricity and paper.
Treehouse represented a shift in the way Icehouse/Looney Pyramids were marketed. It was designed to be a low cost, one purchase item that could get you started, as opposed to having to buy several caches of pyramids or buy one of the larger boxed sets. Mind you, by the time that Treehouse came out, I already had a cache in every color and I just got it for the die.
At the time, I managed to log quite a few plays of Treehouse. It was a light, quick little game that was easy to teach. However, it really came down to the die roll. It was fun but there really wasn’t much thinking involved. Still, at the time, there weren’t a lot of good one-cache games and Treehouse set a new bar for them.
Since then, there have been some more decent one-cache games that have come out. Martian Coasters, for one. However, after I stopped playing Treehouse regularly, there wasn’t one that made me want to pack just a Treehouse set rather than a whole box of pyramid stuff.
That is, until Twin Win came along.
Since you can download the rules for free, let me just summarize the game. Players are moving pyramids on a three by three board, trying to either create of a nest or tree of one color, according to one of the two goal cards they randomly drew at the start of the game. The two random factors are how the board is set up at the start of the game and the goal cards you draw.
It had been available for a quite a while before I decided to make up the goal cards and give it a spin. I didn’t have high hopes but I figured that I should try it since it looked fast and simple and I had all the pieces.
And, lo and behold, I played it and I had fun. More than that, I found myself thinking!
And that’s the key to why Twin Win is a good game, at least for me. The random setup and hidden goal cards keep it from being a luck-free, perfect information abstract like chess or checkers but the game is driven by the decisions of the players, not a die roll or a luck of the draw. Yeah, there’s still enough luck to make it a potential deciding factor but playing the game itself still requires making real choices.
Twin Win isn’t a perfect game. In fact, its super short playing time and the fact that it only plays up to three (and I’ve only played it with two) means that if we feel like spending the time to play a game, we probably won’t go for it.
However, I found that it’s simple but solid rule set hid a very decent game. The pyramid system always seems to have new surprises for me.