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Subject: Includes a fun, short, 2-player game of abstract thinking rss

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Dan Newman
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Berkeley
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This set of 12 nicely crafted, wooden pieces ("Quints" - one each possible piece made from 5 unit squares) allows for several puzzles and games, detailed in the rulebook.

The solo variants are more of the "puzzle" than "game" variety, including the challenge to put them back in the box: there are dozens of ways to fit them into a perfect rectangle, but it never seems to easy (there's one method pictured in the back of the rulebook if you get stuck).


But my favorite part of the set is a two-player game, Squints. It's short, challenging, and surprisingly satisfying.

It's also one of the few games my wife and I enjoy playing together. As an avid gamer, I try to master strategy for any given game, and though I'm not unduly competitive, that doesn't fit with her laid-back approach: she wants to do well against me without investing hours of study. This game suits us both, largely because no player gets left obviously behind until the final stroke.

In Squints, players alternate placement of pieces so they touch only at the corners. The winner is the last one to place a piece. Good play requires estimating both the space remaining and the particular pieces available: using one denies it to your partner (and to you, later on).

It's a condensed version of the best attributes of Chess, or Go. Theoretically, a player (or a computer) could run through all possible variations of remaining plays to find the correct move, but in practice, the variations are too numerous to tally with a checklist, so an abstract, spatial sense becomes vital.


The seller/designer, Kadon Enterprises, has an entertaining website with many good games, but it's a bit hard to navigate, so here's a direct link to the set:

http://www.gamepuzzles.com/polycube.htm#Q

Is it worth $60? In one sense, the cost is high: even though the pieces are an appealing maple wood, it's not the sort of set whose visual appeal is so great you'll instantly appreciate the high price.

On the other hand, it IS a good, timeless game, and it's given me more than enough pleasure, with no sign of abating. I've had the game for fifteen years and still play regularly.
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