Tom and Rick couldn't make it so it was 3 of us for the lunch game today. J suggested Ingenious - new to Mike, so he readily agreed. If you are not familiar, Ingenious is an abstract played on a hexagonal board. Each piece is 2 hexes stuck together with a different color on each hex. You score by matching up with the tiles already on the board and you win in typical Knizia fashion by having your lowest score be higher than everyone else's lowest. The additional bit of fun is that when you max out a color (at 18) you cry "Ingenious!" (or an approximation thereof) and get another turn.
J and I have played this a bunch 2 player so Mike was at a disadvantage. He caught on pretty fast though. I pushed up one color here and another there. J concentrated on a couple and Mike did that too, except more - he maxed out on 4 colors before too long. However this game is not about your highest colors and we all had the same 2 lowest ones, green and orange. Mike and J started to do that, but I left them to it for a turn or two while I shored up some other colors, maxing some colors rather tentatively to get a double turn. As so often happens, the end game was a knife fight - room rapidly running out, each of our own particular weakness a concern. We were all right around 10 for the lowest, I pushed my blue up 2 more to 14, but that was only my 3rd lowest and I wasn't expecting another turn. J then took the 1 green to overtake me and I thought take the game, while Mike got up to 10 green. But no - there was one more spot, and the one more green tied us for lowest (both green!) and we were tied in 2nd lowest (both orange!) but I was ahead on the 3rd (my fateful blue play!).
Mike really enjoyed his first game of this and it is a big favorite with the 'old hands' as well. The little bit of extra space in the 3 player creates a nice dynamic as you can build behind the initial tiles but doesn't open up the board too much. The 4 player board is a little larger still which might prolong that more gentle opening period when things are being set up for the finale.
I should note that this is an excellent lunch game, plays well from 2 to 4 and always in less than an hour. Its simple rules belie the depth and sheer cleverness of the game as you wrestle with the options: improve a color I already have a lot or shore up my trailing ones? Take an opportunity here to score big or block off that corner where the others are weak? It also has that ability to be toned in viciousness - if you like to play rough then there is opportunity here to block and cut off your opponents. But then you can also play it more gently - though be warned that as the space gets short, the elbows start to come out and you find yourself locked out of red.
Thanks to BGGers CapAp and crosenkrantz for the images!