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Circular Reasoning: The Well of Power» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Circular Reasoning, Where Simple Meets Hard rss

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The Circular Reasoning Logo and Center of the Board

The Tokens with their plain side showing.

The pattern side of the Tokens used for color blindness

Circular Reasoning

Sometimes when reviewing a new game, it's hard to know where to start. Part of the reason I find that happening to me now, is that Circular Reasoning isn't like any other Abstract Strategy game that I've played before. So I guess I'll start out talking about the things that immediately struck me when unboxing the game for the first time.

First off, as silly as it may sound, the box size is perfect. Haven't you ever purchased a game where you thought the box was too large or too small. Well with this box, you should easily find a space on your shelf, without it getting lost. The beautiful round logo looks perfect on the box cover and just seems to be calling out, "play me now." Don't be disappointed by what may seem like a lack of components in the box. You'll find a double sided rules page, 12 Wooden tokens in 4 colors, a player starter chip, 3 different sized gateway pieces, that will act as doors in this curious circular maze and of course a large round circular board that looks beautiful on the table. What's really nice here is how so few components get all mixed together, to bring you a unique, challenging and pleasurable gaming experience. When you see everything laid out on the table, your first thought very well might be, "This looks so simple." To an extent, you'd be right, because the game play and rules are very simple. It would help if I start out by describing this odd circular game board in more detail.

The Circular Board

The board consists of 3 circular tracks and the Circular Reasoning logo can be found at the very center of the board, which is also the Goal Area where you'll need to get your 3 player tokens to, in order to win the game. Sounds simple right? But there's more. Each of the 3 circular tracks are divided into 16 segments, or what you'd call individual playing spaces. In addition, on the opposite side of the board from where the player entrance is located, there are gateway pieces, that really act as a doors to the next track and there's one for each circular track, for a total of 3 doors to get through to reach the winning center area. Are you thinking, "ok, you move your pieces around the board, go through the doors to the center and win." Now that's sort of sounding like you're playing Candyland, right? There's just a couple of problems: You have a Circle Token that moves 2 spaces, a Triangle Token that moves 3 spaces and a Square Token that moves 4 spaces each turn. If that wasn't enough, the doors your trying to get through are constantly moving, depending upon the number and placement of the various tokens on the board. In addition, your only allowed to use 1 token per turn, either to enter one onto the board or to move an existing token already on the board. To make matters worse, if a player has a token on the Entrance Space during your turn, you'll be blocked and unable to bring any more of your tokens onto the board until this blocking piece gets moved. All tokens are allowed to jump over each other without it counting as a move. This forces you to decide how close or how far you should leave your tokens near other tokens. Another fun twist to the game is if there's a token on either side of door you want to get through, you won't be able to get through it, and it can get harder when the door you want to get through, may be located somewhere else by your next turn. So trying to anticipate what the board will look like when it's your turn to play again, makes for a definite challenge.

This is one of those rare games that can be as light or as deep as you decide to make it. It all depends on how much thought you want to put into it. Plus the ability to try and figure out what your opponents may do on their turn and trying to figure out where all the doors will end up, can be an interesting experience. I guess you could almost think of it as Chess Light. Sure it's simple to play, but figuring out a winning strategy may leave you scratching your head. All sorts of questions come to mind as you play. Should I move closer to the door or wait and hope the door comes to me. Should I risk leaving a token behind on the starting space to block my opponents from entering, so I can try to make more progress with my other pieces. Should I skip going through this door to keep the other doors further from my opponents. Then there's the constant question when moving a token, should I move it clockwise or counter clockwise. What other game allows you to move backwards or frontwards at the beginning of each turn. You need to keep a constant eye on where all the other tokens on the board are and where they're likely to end up, because their placement affects where the doors will go. If you decide to play the advanced version, well then you're going to have to expect to do a little more work, because you'll only be able to enter the center goal area by an exact movement count. What makes the advanced version of the game so difficult sometimes, is that the last token you want to get into the center may be on the wrong space, requiring you to either pass the door by or have one of your tokens already in the center, move out to correct your movement timing. For such a simple idea, it still manages to put you into the middle of a fair amount of chaos, while you try to make sense of it all. You may not be blown away if your looking for a heavy duty, deep strategy game, but there's one thing this game does do, that most games only hope to achieve, and that's the fact that you'll always find yourself wanting to come back, time and again, just to see if you can find the elusive perfect winning strategy. So to sum up, if you can imagine being in a maze, where the doors and exits keep changing, as you try to find your way out before the competition, then you'll have something to really look forward to here. Don't mean to make this all sound like randomness, because the more brain power you use, the more a winning path may seem to unfold as you play. Even then, you need to stay on your toes.

Congratulations to the young designers, Tomer Bratt and Edward Stevenson, for turning what was a class project into a simple game that drips with possibilities, making for a fun ride. As hard as it is getting a new game published, it's no surprise that they quickly found a publisher to make this game available to everyone. The game plays with 2-4 players. I would imagine with each additional player, the difficulty rises quite a bit, as I've only played the 2 player game. What's funny is that I won my first few games of playing this and I'm still not totally sure how I managed to pull it off. Even when I thought I might lose, I somehow found a way to plow ahead. With many games, once you fall behind, the game is pretty much lost. With Circular Reasoning, you always seem to have a chance, depending upon how much thought you decide to put into your moves.

You're welcome to read my description of the rules in the Forum Section for this game, which goes into all the detail you'd need to know how to play the game, and hopefully should address any questions you may have after reading the rules that come in the box.

Have fun!

Arthur Reilly
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