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Pipe Work is a game published by Gemblo Inc and was last week for sale en playable at the Korean Pavilion at Spiel 2016 in Essen where I had a chance to play it.
Pipe Works will remind a lot of users of Pipe Dream or other offshoots of the videogame that work with the same principles. And they are right. As the players play this game they try to fit the pipelines in the board connecting different plants together. In basic it’s a puzzle game that you can either play alone or play against other people.
A game of Pipe Work comes with four square playing boards (five on five), playing pieces for four players which include: pieces of pipe (corners, straights and one cross), company tokens, lids for on the boards, 1-4th place cards, puzzle cards and point cards.
The set up for this game is easy, give each player a board, lid, pipes of one color and company tokens (8 in total in four different colors). Then give each player a puzzle card they need to solve. Then time starts as players assemble their board according the example on the puzzle card they just received. These puzzle cards show where the players need to put their eight company tokens on the board. Now they have to start connecting the companies with the same color with their pipes. But they also have to fill in the whole playing area with pipes and they need to be useful. So no fitting in non-connecting parts just to fill things up. Once you have done you just pick up the highest place card that is still available and wait until the others have finished with their puzzles and took a card.
Now it’s time to get some points. For this there are point cards. A number equal to the number of players are taken and laid out on the table. The player who was first to finish his/her puzzle may now choose a card and the second player can choose and so on. These point cards show three possible symbols (I think money, planets and people) in any combination of numbers. For instance you can have two moneys and two planets on a card, the second one has three people showing and so on. Now the trick here is to build up highest total of two symbols. Because, this game is played during a number of rounds and so you build up a certain number of scoring cards. At the end of the game you take the two sets of symbols where you have the highest numbers off and count these together. Those are your victory points. So for instance if you your cards show seven money, five planets and eight people showing, you take the seven and the eight and count them together giving you a end score of 15 points. And that is basically the game itself.
But there are two extra things I would like to light out:
The lids, at first we wondered why they were there and figured they were for transport reasons. But that is not it. As you end the round it gets rather fiddly to take everything out of the slots to start a new round. So at the end of a round, you just close the box, turn it over and everything is out of your board ready for a new round. Simple but a nice touch.
The puzzle cards, each player gets their own card, you could also easily use the same card for all players. But each card has four difficulties on it.
- level one you just use all eight company tokens.
- level two: you only use six of the company tokens
- level three: you also have to use the cross piece on the board
- level four: you have to use the cross piece and fewer company tokens
So is it a good game?
Well it can be a fun game to play with your friends (or alone if you like solitary puzzles), but it doesn’t hold much more than meets the eye. It reminded our group of playing Ubongo, but in a pipe dream setting. It does look nice with the different puzzles pieces though but I found the prize they asked a bit too steep for what I was getting. The game also can be a bit fiddly as you drop in the pipes and realize you made a mistake. It’s not always that easy to get them out quickly and as you are in a puzzling race that can be a bit stressful. The game immediate jumped on my radar to check out when I was at spiel and I’m glad I did. I would definitely play this again.