Quick Word

I have been logging some sessions of Star Wars: Rebellion as of late and I like to play a light filler or two before and after. Tom Vasel’s review of Onitama convinced me to give it a try (Sheriff of Nottingham was awesome after all). So it was while picking up my order from Miniature Market that I was browsing the Dented & Dinged section of the store when I came across Niya. I had not really heard of it previously but it was already a cheap game so half price made it a steal (especially since I saw no evidence of any damage, even minor). I took it with me to ask the cashier about it when another customer overheard us and said if I didn’t buy it he would. Figuring that to be the mark of a good game, I bought it without really knowing anything about it...that and I had more than enough Rewards points to cover it.

Brief Game Synopsis

Two players place tokens over a grid of patterned tiles, each tile showing two out of four available patterns. When a player places a token, the tile below is removed. The opposing player is then required to swap out another of their tokens with a tile containing at least one of the two patterns on the tile previously removed. Victory is achieved in three ways; a player gets four in a row, a player creates a box of four tokens connecting, or a player take a tile and there are no available tiles left matching the either of the two patterns for the next player.

Toys With Rules

The rulebook is clear and to the point with great examples of gameplay and victory conditions (far better than my explanation was). The game takes literally seconds to setup and teach as it is essentially an advanced form of Connect-4 for adults (although my six year old plays it).

Boards ‘N Bits

This game is quite handsome, utilizing the same flower art seen on the backs of other Japanese card games. The player tokens have elegant art and the fact that each character has eight unique pictures was unneeded but helps lend to the games charm and appeal. In fact, the components do a fantastic job at masking the fact that the theme is just pasted on over a nice little abstract game.

My Thoughts

Niya is a truly fun little ten minute game for two players. The game requires a lot of thought as you choose you tile and try to predict the other players movements. Most games I have played of this involve some joking in which my opponent and I attempt the number of moves we have until victory…not that I am any good at that…

Anyhoot, it is a great game for teaching my son to think about how his turn will have an impact on each turn thereafter and the importance of thinking in advance.

Son’s Thoughts

This is what my six year old had to say about Niya:

Well, for me, this game is more fun to look at then to play. I like the pretty pictures with the flowers and the red banner thing and the faces of all the guys and girls on the circle disks but the game itself is a little boring. It isn’t bad exactly, it just can be confusing with the birds having each different pictures but the leaves and banners all being the same
(I guess some of the pictures can be unclear if you’re a youngin’). It is fun enough to play with you sometimes but I think I like other games a little better than this. Place holding the tokens make me want to eat candy but don’t worry dad, I won’t lick your Toys with Rules (what my wife calls board games).


+ Has a simple elegance
+ Quick to setup and teach


- The pictures scrape off the individual tokens if handled roughly
- Only plays two (would like a similar type game with a higher tile count that maybe can play up to 4 so my wife can play)

Purchase, Play, or Pass

I can’t help but to vote Purchase due to the low cost for such a great value. This game isn’t one you would play for hours at a time but is so portable and handy it is great to squeeze into a rotation of two player games.
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Bruce Murphy
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It would be nearly impossible to make a more than two player constraint game, because of the inherent left right binding, but a few abstracts leap right into that. e.g. Gute Nachbarn or that 3 player from high a few years ago.

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