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Subject: A Work of GENIUS! rss

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ARTHUR REILLY
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Beautiful Board with game in progress


Close-up of Pawns & Wall pieces


Different board showing end of game. White won 27 - 22

Fendo Review


Fendo, A Work of Genius!

Here's one big shout out to Mr. Dieter Stein, for coming up with one, if not the best, Abstract Strategy Games since the Gipf Series by Kris Burm. I'd even go so far as to say that this game is even better than any in the Gipf Series. Mind you, I love Kris Burm, and own all his games and have played them all to death. But this is the first time i've been this excited about a game since Tzaar came out.

Let's first have a look at the components. If you have purchased the game, as made by the famous design company, called: Gerhards Spiel and Design, you'll not only be happy because of the top notch quality of all the components, but also because when you're playing this brilliant game, you'll want to play it on the best possible board you can find. Plus how many games can you say make you feel like your playing with a work of art.

COMPONENTS

As Gerhards Speil always does, they've created a heavy wooden board that is 7x7 squares and is absolutely gorgeous. When you see it, you'll know that the price was worth every penny. Then in a zip lock bag, you'll find 50 small wooden dowel sticks, that will later serve as walls that you'll place during game play. Lastly, along with the Instruction Booklet, which has plenty of illustrations, and explains the rules flawlessly, you'll also find a small white draw string bag containing 7 orange and 7 white Pawns. They actually look like tiny little temples. For the record, they give you 8 of each, in case you lose one, which is very thoughtful. Throw in the box the game comes in and that's it.

WHAT'S THE OBJECTIVE IN THIS GAME?

I'm really glad you asked. Of the 49 squares on the board, you want to surround squares with walls, enclosing areas that contain just one of your pawns. Capture a total of 25 squares or more in this way, and you win the game. Sounds simple right. Just wait, surprises will follow.

SET-UP

On the side of the board that faces you, place 1 pawn in the center of the first row on your side. Your opponent does the same and that's all there is to set-up, White plays first. Now for the fun part, game play.

GAME PLAY

You have just 1 of 2 things to choose from on your turn, but if you have no legal move available, you must skip your turn.

1. Pick a pawn that's on the board and either move it or leave it in place, then place a wall piece on one of the adjacent sides of this pawn. Keep in mind that the outer edges of the board are already considered surrounded, so you never place a wall piece there. Rules regarding wall placement I'll discuss in a moment. If you choose to move the pawn as opposed to leaving it in place, there are 2 ways you can move it. You can move it in a straight line, as far as you like, in either a vertical or horizontal direction. Your path must be clear, meaning you can't jump over any pawns or walls, ever. The 2nd movement option is to move your pawn as described above and then you can take just 1 right angle turn, and from there, move as far as you like, provided you don't violate the rule of not jumping over pawns or walls.

2. Your second game play option, if you still have pawns in your supply, meaning you have pawn(s) still left over, that haven't been placed on the board, then you may place a pawn on the board. The trick here is you can't place that pawn just anywhere but must place it according to the following rule. A pawn may only be placed on a square that can be reached by any of your other Pawns on the board. If none of your pawn(s) can legally reach a particular square, then you can't place a pawn on it. Note that when you place a pawn, you no longer have the option of placing a wall on that turn. So once you place a pawn it becomes your opponent's turn.

WALL PLACEMENT RULES

Before discussing wall placement rules, it's important to first understand the concepts of enclosed areas and the open area of the board. An enclosed area is an area that's completely surrounded by walls and contains only 1 pawn of either color. The color of the pawn that's enclosed, represents the player who now owns that territory. The open area will take a little more thought to figure out. The open area is the playing area in which there may be two or more pawns of any color. There is always just one open area. At the beginning of the game, the entire board is the open area as there aren't any enclosed areas yet. During game play, the open area starts to shrink as squares become enclosed. So it's very important to always be aware of where and what is the single opened area on the board. Now on to the placement of wall pieces.

1. Walls can not be placed on the four outside edges of the board as mentioned above.
2. Walls can not be placed if that wall encloses an area that contains no pawns.
3. Walls can not be placed, if in doing so, it createa two separate opened areas, as opposed to just the one which you are allowed.
4. If you make a move and you need to then place a wall, but it turns out you would have to violate a wall placement rule when moving there, then that move can not be made, so no pawn or walls may be placed there.

It's worth repeating, that if you have no legal movement play, and have no legal pawn placements available, then you lose your turn and your opponent plays.

It might take some getting use to, but it's particularly important to always differentiate between the open area, and the enclosed areas, every turn. When there is no longer an open area on the board, because all squares or territories have been surrounded, then the game comes to an end and you can then score it.

SCORING

Count up the total number of squares that have been surrounded, and enclosed with just one of your pawns within and do the same for your opponent. The person that has at least 25 squares or more, automatically wins. There can be no ties in this game.

HERE ARE THE SURPRISES I PROMISED

One might think that because there are only up to 7 pawn placements that you can make and your only working on a board 15 squares smaller than a chessboard, that playing this game would be a walk in the park. However, once you understand the rules and have to decide some of the following, you'll then know why you fell in love with this game:

1. Should I move a pawn and if I do, what's the best square to put it on.
2. Having moved a piece, which of the adjacent sides would be best to put a wall on
3. Are all my pawns in good positions and is it time to bring in a new pawn
4. Is it best putting my Pawn close or far away from my opponent's pieces
5. Can any one of my pawns be forced into being enclosed into a small area
6. Which parts of the board am I the weakest in
7. Is it possible that I could lose the game on my opponents next turn
8. Is it worth sacrificing a certain area of the board for a possible larger gain elsewhere
9. Is there a play I can make that will make my opponent lose their turn.
10. Are any of my pawns too close together

That's enough for now, because this list could be endless. Once you're sitting there and it's your turn to play, that's when it will hit you, that there are so many possibilities to choose from in what looked to be such a simple game. Finding what you can only hope is the best choice is like finding a needle in a hay stack. But the good news is, the more you play, you slowly begin to get a sense of what the best options might be. This is one of those fantastic games that I imagine you could play for years (and you will), and still find new ideas to improve your game play. Unlike chess, where there are tons of books you can read, here to need to tough it out and just try and do a little better in the next game. When you lose and you will, it's really fun trying to figure out what went wrong. Sometimes you can, and sometimes you can't.

MY OWN GAMES

In my very first game, my opponent didn't realize, because she moved her only pawn to a bad square, that I was able to force her to place a wall that enclosed her only pawn in just a 3 square area. Because she had never placed a second pawn on the board at that point, she was completely out of any legal moves or placements at all. I actually won the game in just a handful of moves. What's really weird, and you can see an illustration of this in the rules, that it is literally possible to this lose game after your first move with a score of 48 to 1. That's when I realized how every play was so crucial. My second game was much closer, but I still managed to win by 16 squares. All my other games were close but fascinating battles that were just a pure joy to play.

TO SUM UP

If you enjoy abstract strategy games or like 2 player games, or you're the type that enjoys giving your brain a workout, then this game is a MUST BUY, PERIOD! If after reading this, and there's just one more game you can buy, I can't think of any better choice, besides FENDO.

Hey you, yeah you, what are you waiting for, pick-up a copy of yours today and be ready to have a great time.

Arthur Reilly
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Dieter Stein
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Thank you very much Arthur! Thank you for all the kind words. - I have to take a deep breath now. modest

I'm particularly glad that you emphasized the truly stunning woodwork by Ludwig Gerhards. There's so much expert knowledge and time in it, his work cannot be overestimated.
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Bastian Lara

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A brilliant review of a game which I not know right now. I just know Mixtour of the same author which is a truly forced buy for board gamers who enjoy abstract games. The quality of the game components are always outstanding if they manufactured by Gerhards Spiele. Thanx you for the review.
 
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ARTHUR REILLY
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b1sti wrote:
A brilliant review of a game which I not know right now. I just know Mixtour of the same author which is a truly forced buy for board gamers who enjoy abstract games. The quality of the game components are always outstanding if they manufactured by Gerhards Spiele. Thanx you for the review.


Thank you so much for your comments. This was one of the more fun reviews to write, as I got to actually play the game so often. I'd been dying to play Fendo for a long time.

Be on the lookup soon, for another review i'll be doing that's put out by Gerhards Spiel also, called: Citadella

This one is going to be a hard one to write, but I'll do my best.

Haven't started working on Mixtour yet.

Thanks again,

Arthur Reilly
 
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ARTHUR REILLY
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b1sti wrote:
A brilliant review of a game which I not know right now. I just know Mixtour of the same author which is a truly forced buy for board gamers who enjoy abstract games. The quality of the game components are always outstanding if they manufactured by Gerhards Spiele. Thanx you for the review.


Your very welcome. Also by Gerhards and Spiel, I wrote another review you might like to check out.

The Game is called: "Citadella"

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,

Arthur Reilly
 
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