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Subject: A Great Abstract Strategy Game For Almost All Ages rss

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A Maracle
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OverText is such a 23rd centruy fad.
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My eldest daughter, ten year old Jem, is not a big fan of boardgames. She will play them once in a while if the mood strikes her, but she is no where need as fanatic as Lady X (who will play a game at the drop of a hat).

That is why I am rather surprised that she will play Pente every time it catches her eye in the closet. I don’t know if it is the glass beads or the simplicity of the game that appeals to her.

I don’t think about it too much because Pente is a game I rather enjoy playing.

Initial Thoughts

Pente is a game that has been around for close to 30 years. I would consider it a classic abstract strategy game. I can remember playing it as a teenager and thinking of the game as being outside of the mainstream.

Still, this is a game that can appeal to all ages and all types of game players. There is also the opportunity for people to make their own versions of Pente and add their own artistic touch.

Object Of The Game

In a two player or four player team game, the first player to get five stones in a row or capture ten of their opponent’s stones is declared the winner.

For 3 or more players, a person only needs to get four in a row to win.

There are also some scoring versions as well that can be used for victory conditions.

Components

The standard version of Pente comes with a gameboard, two sets of colored stones, two velvet bags for the stones, and an instruction book.

There is a Decipher standard version of Pente comes in a cardboard tube. Inside the tube, you will find much of the standard Pente components, but instead of a gameboard, you get a nice playing map. This version is great for traveling. There is also a 20th anniversary edition that gives you 6 sets of stones, a nicer playing mat and a color rulebook.

The look of the game is simple, yet elegant. While there is not art to speak of, the colored stones are eye-catching and can have a tendency to draw casual observers into a game or two.

Gameplay

Each player selects a set of colored stones and one player is chosen to go first (random method).

On the first turn of a game, a player will place their stone on the center intersection of lines.

After the first turn, players will take turns placing stones on any open intersection of lines. Once a stone has been released, the placing player’s turn is over and the move cannot be undone.

To capture an opponent’s stone, a player must place a stone in the following manner:

(1) Initial Setting (X – Current Player’s Stones, O – Opponent’s Stones).


--- X --- O ---- O ---- -----

(2) Capture Setting (X – Current Player’s Stones, O – Opponent’s Stones).

--- X --- O ---- O ---- X -----

Once a capture move has been executed, the captured stones are removed from the board and place in the possession of the capturing player.

Once 10 stones have been captured by a player or a player has placed 5 of their stones have been placed in a row, that player is declared the winner (two player game victory conditions).

Pente Etiquette Optional Rule – It is customary, but not required to call out “three” or “tria” when you have made an open three (three stones in a row with both end intersections not blocked by an opponent’s stone e.g. --- --- X --- X --- X --- ---). It is also customary to call “tessera” or “four” when you make four in a row.

Strategy v.s. Luck Factor

One of the strategies the rulebook recommends is going on the offensive. You should try to “control” the game and force your opponent to play blocking moves in response to your moves.

“Three” is the key to this game. Try to build connecting lines of three with your stones. Your opponent will either have to block your progress or face the threat of you getting two lines of four completed.

The last strategy I can recommend is trying to build “open fours” (four stones in a row with both ends open). You will find that if you are building intersecting lines of 3s, you will get a chance to build an open four eventually.

Closing Thoughts

As I was thinking about writing this review, I got out my Pente and played a few games with the family. I let little Princess S give the game a try and her three year old mind grasped the concept really quick. She didn’t win, but she understood what to do.

This is a good family game and it is also a friendly game (especially if you call out open 2s and fours). It plays fairy quick and the rules can be understood by just about anybody.

This game gets a definite “buy” on my recommendation list, especially if you have abstract strategy fans in your house. Brand new, the tube version runs about $25, but you can pick up a second hand version for cheaper. You may want to try some of the online auction sites if you want to find a deal.

Give it a try. It’s a winner in my book.

Recommendation Summary

Wyll's Recommendation: thumbsup

Fun Factor (5 Point Scale): 4

One Line Summary: A classic abstract strategy game that can be enjoyed by ages 4 and up.
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I have a copy of Pente produced by Winning Moves. It includes a variant called Pente Plus. Pente Plus uses four neutral stones in addition to the regular ones. The neutral stones can be used by either player to complete their five-in-a-row.
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A Maracle
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That's sounds like a really neat variant. It's little things like the above mentioned variant that can keep a game like this fresh.
 
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Here's a more detailed explanation of Pente Plus.

1. At the beginning of the game, 2 of the 4 four neutral stones are given to each player.

2. Instead of placing your own stone on your turn, you can place one of your neutral stones. When you do this, you additionally get to play one of your own stones on any of the 12 diamond points on the board.

3. On the turn when you first play a neutral stone it must represent your own color. (After that, the color that the stone represents can change.)

4. Previously placed neutral stones can be considered to represent your own color or your opponent's color. For example, you can choose your own color to get five-in-a-row or to capture two of your opponent's stones. Or you can choose your opponent's color in order to create a pair of opposing stones to capture. The color represented by a neutral stone can change from turn to turn.

5. Neutral stones can be captured like any others. Neutral stones that you capture count toward the 10 needed to win the game.
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