I Am Negatron >> Games Dealing With Negative Space
Jay Little
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Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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A nod to one of my all-time favorite bands, Voivod, here's a Negatron GeekList... Dealing with those Strange and Ironic games that factor in Missing Sequences. You know, The Multiverse that is the space between spaces, the gaps in the games.

I find myself Forlorn to realize that I don't have more games in my collection (which I refer to as Project X) that fall in this category. Is the lack of negative space games in my collection some sort of Cosmic Conspiracy? Is this Reality?

Actually, it's None of the Above. Some titles that first appeared to be games about managing negative space only used that as a Sub-Effect. But rise up, all you negative-space-game lovers -- The Unknown Knows that We Are Not Alone!

It doesn't take a Brain Scan to figure out how negative space works, but it can tax The Outer Limits of some players' perceptions. So please Fix My Heart by helping me list more games that deal with managing and manipulating negative space.

Best Regards, Voivod...
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1. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:519]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Blokus is all about managing the negative space between your pieces. The wrinkle that your pieces can only touch at the corners, but you can align flush with your opponents' pieces adds incredible depth, and completely changes your perception of space on the gameboard.

And what's even neater to wrap my head around is that everyone is viewing that negative space differently, from their own color's opportunistic point of view.
 
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2. Board Game: Toscana [Average Rating:5.64 Overall Rank:9454]
Jay Little
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Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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While it's a straightforward tile laying game, the fact that the theme and art depicts rooftops and the gaps between them creates a very different feel for positive and negative space than if the tiles were simply colored in black and white blocks.

I personally have a great deal of difficulty playing as the "negative space" player, since my eye and brain are generally drawn to the positive aesthetic space of the artwork depicted on the cards. Several other people I've played this with have mentioned the same thing.

Not too many other tile games really factor negative space heavily in the gameplaying equation asmuch as it might first appear, in my opinion. If it weren't for the fact that the art is so heavily stylized as negative space and positive space, this might not make the list.
 
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3. Board Game: British Square [Average Rating:4.65 Overall Rank:14110]
Jay Little
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Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Actually, a much smaller microcosm of "reverse Blokus" -- your color pieces can line up flush/adjacent to your own, but can only touch your opponent's pieces diagonally...

The start of a round is about spreading out your influence and locking down areas of negative space around your pieces to restrict access by your opponent, and then once all the negative space has been cordoned off, filling in the rest of the spaces that only you can access.
 
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4. Board Game: Ta YĆ¼ [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1270]
Jay Little
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Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Since the Ta Yu tiles are oblong, placing them creates numerous small pockets and niches through the course of the game. You can often further your goals (of connecting opposite edges of the board) through several different orientations or positions, but trying to see how your moves limit your opponents options, especially later in the game, requires a degree of negative space management.
 
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5. Board Game: Clans [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1138]
Jay Little
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Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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This game plays lightning fast, but your ability to see how different moves segregate the villages is a key part of the strategy. You want to create negative space which restricts or directs your opponent's moves, hopefully forcing some plays that directly benefit your own tribe.

After the first few plays, I thought the game was almost too simple and each move too insignificant, but once I saw the game as managing negative space, instead of influencing positive space, I started to gain a greater appreciation of this little gem.
 
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6. Board Game: Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:389]
Jay Little
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Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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I almost didn't include Carc on the list, because a great deal of the strategies are all adding to/expanging positive space. But the hunters in H&G (and farmers in original Carc) are definitely designed to take advantage of negative space.

It can be challenging for first-time players to actually "see" the area of a particular field or farmland, since you're trying to get your brain to look at what's between other features instead of something discrete and defined on its own.
 
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7. Board Game: Domaine [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:648]
Myke Madsen
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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I immediately thought of this when I saw the geeklist title. When we first played this, we only saw the positive space... but then you realize the game can be as much about cleverly setting up the negative space.
 
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8. Board Game: The Very Clever Pipe Game [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:3199]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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The spaces between pipes, as well as the pipes themselves, can be controlled. The hardest part of learning this game is actually seeing the way the spaces fit together (it's similar to Carc. in that respect).
 
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9. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:116]
Justin Fitzgerald
United States
Mazomanie
Wisconsin
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The way your city is built determines how much negative space you have. One card rewards the player with the least negative space left.
 
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10. Board Game: Fresh Fish [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1996]
J
Canada
AB
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It's all about negative space, and thus, very tricky to wrap your head around. It's not like some games above where understanding the negative space isn't necessary, but will give you a tactical advantage (say, Domaine) -- in this game you have to dig the negative space just to understand the rules!
 
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11. Board Game: Domain [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:7452]
J
Canada
AB
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In this (rather fun) abstract, you have to pay attention to the negative space, and the impact your next tile placement will have on it. If you take away too much of the void, your opponent will capitalize on it.
 
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12. Board Game: The Omega Virus [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:2883]
Jesse Acosta
United States
Spokane
Washington
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Not really about negative space, but one of the weapons in this game is a Negatron
 
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13. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:494]
United States
Houston
Texas
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I'm surprised no one added this, as the negative space at the end of the game is actually scored.
 
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14. Board Game: M [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:3000]
United States
Houston
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Not exactly negative space, however the rows/columns are limited to a certain number of tiles. This means that placing a tile on one end can prevent someone else from playing on the other end for a big score.
 
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15. Board Game: The Penguin Ultimatum [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:5094]
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Houston
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Another one where the negative space is incorporated into the game. The card placement is restricted by the shape of the table, and the rules even encourage this aspect to be used strategically.
 
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16. Board Game: Isolation [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:10363]
Chris Hawks
United States
Apple Valley
Minnesota
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The goal of this game is to remove the board one square at a time until your opponent is stranded.
 
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17. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:486]
Sam
United States
Bay Area
California
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Great game and a great example of dealing with negative space in conjunction with tile placement and area control.

-
 
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