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Subject: One of the best finds of the year rss

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MGS
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I learned about Niya reading somebody's geeklist about their experience at GenCon 2014. The art looked nice and the prospect of a full game experience with just about 3 rules is a feature that is attractive to me.

I picked the game at the local gamestore (not so easy, they had not heard about it but ordered for me) and it has been one of the gems of this great year.

Niya is a straight abstract game just like chess, checkers and hive. The goal is reminiscent of tic-tac-toe. Get 4 in a row horizontally, vertically, diagonally or on a 2x2 square. Alternatively, win if your opponent does not have a legal move. Sounds straight forward (what it is) and uninspiring (what it isn't).

The catch here is that your move limits what moves your opponent will have available. Each tile has 2 elements and the tile your opponent will be able to choose has to match one of the elements of the tile just picked by you. This simple twist makes the game lightyears more interesting. Additionally, the tiles are randomly distributed on 4x4 grid that looks a bit different each time.

You have a game that takes less than a minute to teach but that makes you consider each placement carefully since the ramifications could be dire without really inducing any significant analysis paralysis. The game is tremendously functional and you are always trying to outwit and outplay your opponent with each move. It only takes a few minutes to play and it has always invariably led to repeated enjoyable plays.

Logistically, it is amazing. Trivial set up and clean up. Very simple rules that can be taught in a matter of seconds. Fast playing time. Small footprint to play. All these while giving you a full gaming experience which puts you only at the mercy of yours and your opponent's plays.

One of the aspects in many abstracts is that the more experienced player almost invariably has a substantial advantage which will likely allow them to win at will. I notice this in games such as chess and hive. While it attests to the depth of those games, it can also be a limiting factor since you almost need somebody of your skill level to make the game enjoyable. I have not noticed in Niya. Probably because the rules are so simple. Sure, you pick up on some patterns and strategies but nothing overwhelming.

Another thing that I really appreciate in this game is the art and the theme. The publisher could very well have given us a game with 16 tiles each with a number 1-4 and a letter A-D and the game would play just the same. But, the fact that they made the art in the tiles (I read it comes from a traditional Japanese deck of cards) and the pieces so coherent and pleasing adds to the experience.

I have played Niya innumerable times since getting it a few months ago. It has led to great gaming experiences and enjoyable moments with friends and family. It is a game with simple but functional rules that I expect to play for years to come either with my copy or the ones that my friends bought after playing with us.
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Bruce Murphy
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Pyrmont
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I would suggest you seek out a copy of Kamon. This is the bigger (and older) sibling of Niya.

Lines of lily-pads. Short, but with multiple paths to victory

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Brandan Parsons
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Carmel
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So great to hear you are such a big fan! Thanks for your kind words
 
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Brandan Parsons
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Carmel
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thepackrat wrote:
I would suggest you seek out a copy of Kamon. This is the bigger (and older) sibling of Niya.


Truth. Niya is to Kamon as Gobblet Gobblers is to Gobblet.

However, it will be very difficult to find Kamon in the US. It was only printed by Blue Orange Europe (then named Jactalea), and is currently out of print to my knowledge.

There is some talk of bringing Kamon to the states, but nothing for sure yet. Generally, we have found Niya (or Okiya in Europe) to be a little more accessible than the original concept.
 
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