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Subject: [Review] miQube rss

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Tom Vasel
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The line between puzzles and games is very thin, and perhaps most games could simply be called a multi-player puzzle. At school, I keep a pile of single-player puzzles, in which players attempt to put pieces together to make a shape or take two rings apart, etc. miQube (IQIdeas, 2006 - Andrew Baker) - also sometimes known as iQube - takes the idea of these solitaire puzzles and forms a game of it. Initially the game consists of a wooden cube that can be broken and put back together using various Tetris-like shapes. The game's tagline is, "Looks like a puzzle, plays like a boardgame!" And there's no doubt that miQube is a good puzzle. But what about the so-called game?

If played in a light, quick fashion, miQube can be entertaining and interesting. On the other hand, if played with only two players, and either one is an analytical, deep thinking chap, you may be stuck playing the game much longer than the game is meant to be - a ten minute exercise. I'm sure that there is one ultimate solution for each color in each game, but most people will never get close to such mastery and will likely enjoy the puzzle features. I actually found the game quite engaging, although I will hide it when my analysis - paralyzed friends show up.

miQube consists of thirteen wooden pieces - each made up of four or five connected cubes. The cubes have a colored circle on each open face: red, black, green, blue, yellow, and white; and all thirteen pieces can be put together to form one large cube with each side having sixteen squares with the same colored circle in them. That's the puzzle aspect of the game, and I found it fairly difficult.

To play the board game Domination, one of the thirteen pieces is discarded, and the remainder is placed in a common pool. A board with a thirty-six square grid is placed on the table, and each player rolls a special six-sided die to determine what color they are. One player is chosen to go first, and the game begins.

On a player's turn, they simply choose any available piece, and place it anywhere on the board, as long as the piece can stand up by itself (or through support of pre-placed pieces). One part of the placed piece must touch the board, and the entire piece must stay within the boundaries of the grid. Each player continues to do this until all twelve pieces have been placed. When that occurs, players look at the board from a bird's-eye view, and the player who has the highest number of their color dots facing up wins the game.

The Advance version of the game has players place their first piece in their corner and must put future pieces next to any piece that they've already played. Players score points at the end of the game, not only for their face-up color dots, but also for any spaces that they completely surround - similar to the rules of Go.

The Connect Five version - only for two players - follows the same rules, but players are attempting to get five in a row of their own color. To prevent games from finishing too quickly, a player may place a piece that does NOT touch the board; as long as it is not their color that is face up.

In Gridlock, the thirteenth piece is placed anywhere on the board, and the die is rolled, determining the color for everyone. Players take turns choosing pieces, and then place them the same as in the Domination version, but making sure that color rolled MUST be face up. If a player cannot place a piece, they are out of the game, with the last player surviving winning!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: miQube has extremely high quality blocks - the pieces made out of good quality wood with nice colored circles painted on them. The size of the pieces are large, giving them a good stout feel with some heft, and the wooden board adds to the very nice coffee table feel to the game. The die itself almost looks identical to one small cube, except it has rounded edges. The game comes with the cube in solved form, which is the easiest way to store it ( if you can do it!). Either way, all the pieces and board fit inside the most certainly oversized, brightly-colored red box.

2.) Rules: The rules are quite short and simple for each of the four games, which makes sense, since there really isn't much going on; and the rules are quite similar. I like the small six player rulebook, because it also gives a few hints and tips while explaining; so that players who do not know what to do can have some inkling when playing for the first time. I've taught the game to younger elementary students and to adults; and while I can feel more confident beating some age groups, all seemed to quickly understand it and play the game.

3.) Puzzle: I collect puzzles on the side and find a delight in owning fiendish, difficult to solve puzzles. miQube is not an easy puzzle, but it is quite solvable; and I would place its difficulty perhaps just under the Rubik's cube. I'm not sure that I would buy this for the puzzle alone - although I would be tempted to - simply because of how good it looks. I'm just glad they included some multiplayer games in the box.

4.) Which game: Of the four games, I prefer Domination the most , if only because it is the most basic, yet offers a lot of options. When I play Advance, I'm constantly reminded of better area surrounding games; and the Connect Five game is almost too short - it's easy to get five in a row - and really nothing when compared to other "five-in-a-row" games like Pentago and Quinamid. Gridlock is interesting, and I don't mind playing it occasionally; but Domination is the most interesting, if only because the colors of each game change - meaning that you never know what's going to happen.

5.) Analysis and Fun Factor: I'm not sure if any color has an inherent advantage over the other colors. I doubt it, as they all have pieces that seem to be wonderful and others that are certainly less so; but I'm glad that the diversity is there, since it keeps people from knowing exactly which piece to grab first. However, people can sit and try to figure out exactly what piece they can place where. Near the end of the game, this doesn't matter so much, as there are very few places anything can be put; but in the beginning, a thoughtful player can slow everything down. miQube is meant to be played quickly, which keeps the game from stagnating, and then this becomes one of its greatest strengths. To have a puzzle-type game that only takes ten minutes to play is a nice addition to many collections; and I have found that this game does excellently in the classroom.

When describing the game, it certainly has similarities to Blokus and Rumis in feel and scope, although it should play shorter - and certainly looks nicer. That, coupled with the fact that it's a decent solitaire puzzle should easily put it on the wish list of many a puzzle fanatic. For those looking for a casual abstract game, I would recommend trying it out before buying, and considering those you'll be playing it with. A nice decoration, a decent puzzle, and some interesting games are all enclosed in miQube. That's good enough for me to hang on to it.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"
www.thedicetower.com
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ARTHUR REILLY
United States
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Is this game available in the U.S.

If so, where and how much is it?
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Andrew Baker
New Zealand
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Arthur,
miQube is distributed by Mindware in North America. I'm sure you could get a list of retailers in your area who stock miQube by contacting them through their website.
Alternately we sell miQube via our website www.iqideas.com and distribute throughout the world. Send me a message through our website if you'd like me to take care of this personally for you.
Price is US24.95 + PP.
Regards
Andrew
miQube Inventor and Managing Director IQideas Ltd
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ARTHUR REILLY
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iqideas wrote:
Arthur,
miQube is distributed by Mindware in North America. I'm sure you could get a list of retailers in your area who stock miQube by contacting them through their website.
Alternately we sell miQube via our website www.iqideas.com and distribute throughout the world. Send me a message through our website if you'd like me to take care of this personally for you.
Price is US24.95 + PP.
Regards
Andrew
miQube Inventor and Managing Director IQideas Ltd


Thanks so much for letting me know what I was looking for. I'll definitely check out the Mindware Website.

Regards,

Arthur
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