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Subject: A review of this unique abstract strategy game rss

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Caleb
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I had the pleasure of playing 3 games of Quartetto this weekend on IG Game Center with the designer, Arty Sandler. Arty owns the IG Game Center site and has coded a bunch of great games that can be played in real-time against opponents from all over the world. It's a relatively new site and there are not a TON of people on there, so it has that small community feel where everyone's friendly and always willing to teach a new game. It's a great site and I highly recommend it. You can find it via Google and install it as a module in your iGoogle home page.

Anyway, Arty designed a very unique spacial strategy game called Quartetto and was kind enough to play a few games with me. I must confess I gave him virtually no challenge and he defeated me each time with ease, but at least I got a few learning drubbings under my belt. I think I'll like the game, although it is quite unique and hard for me to visualize.

The standard "criss-cross" setup is with 4 pieces, 2 from each player, in the 4 center board spaces, with same-side pieces arranged diagonally. Then the other 4 pieces are in the 4 corner squares. Each side has 4 pieces on an 8x8 grid. Pieces move like rooks in chess. There is no jumping or capturing. You are trying to arrange your 4 pieces in a square. But not just any square - the square must be "tilted", that is, not horizontally and vertically following the grid of the board. In addition, the square must be at least 5 board squares wide and tall, measured by all the board squares the tilted square totally or partially covers. It's something that's harder to explain than to visualize, but the BGG image for the game shows a winning formation. It's conceptually much easier to visualize from the picture than describe. You can also see a brief instructions page on IG Game Center: Everything is explained succinctly.

Gameplay is fascinating, simply because there are so few pieces. At only 4 pieces per side, you'd think things would be very simple or even deterministic. That's not the case, however (at least not at MY skill level) and the game is a real brain-burner. At this point I'm not sure how much of that feeling is artificially created by the "tilted square" victory conditions - it's just not natural to think that way and part of the brain-burning aspect is learning to see the 4 pieces as corners of a rhombus and visualize how to make a scoring configuration. Then of course you want to try to block your opponent from the same. It may be that after many games, things would get a little "samey" but for now it's definitely something I enjoy really cogitating over.

Another great aspect of the game is that it's quick. My games have lasted 5 minutes or so. Of course, part of that is because I'm bad and got killed quickly, but I don't see this going much past 10 minutes in any case.
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David Molnar
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It sounds like the first-player advantage would be enormous.
 
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Caleb
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Well not in my case, as the designer easily crushed me. I'd have to play it against someone of similar skill to be sure.
 
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Arty Sandler
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Wow Thank you, cannoneer! This review made my day
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Arty Sandler
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molnar wrote:
It sounds like the first-player advantage would be enormous.


According to the statistics the first player does not have an advantage. The statistics is not based on a large number of games but still I think that the game is not that imbalanced as it can seem. Though, I suspect that the game can have some easy solution (it was solved for non-tilted squares).
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Caleb
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artyomch wrote:
Wow Thank you, cannoneer! This review made my day


My pleasure. Next time we're online at the same time on IG Game Center you can crush me a few more times

 
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Calvin Daniels
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This game certainly appears to follow in the footsteps of Teeko, a game where four in a row wins, but also four corners of a square.

Certainly same concept at play it would seem
 
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Arty Sandler
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Well, it may seem that the concept is similar but the game play is totally different.

In standard Teeko you should form 2x2 square in order to win. In Quartetto you should form a "tilted" square that is large enough to cover 5x5 cells. In Teeko you move pieces to adjacent cells in all 8 directions. In Quartetto pieces move like rook in Chess.

Playing both Quartetto and Teeko, I can say that Quartetto is more dynamic.

The funny thing is that I discovered Teeko a year after inventing Quartetto.
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Oliver Merkel
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I agree on the statement that Teeko has some similar concept but still results in different strategy and game play.

Another game that fits in that row is Adrian Schacker's Mondrago (1992). It uses Teeko's 5x5 board and Quartetto's winning condition is close to that one of Mondrago.

Personally I like the more compact game board of Teeko and Mondrago but prefer the winning condition of Mondrago and Quartetto.

In direct comparison you will see that the bounding box of 5x5 in Quartetto had to be introduced. Otherwise players would have had no chance to really interact. In Mondrago this is solved by the initial position of the pawns.

If you are looking for complex game play but simple rules and less exceptions, rounded up and conceptual aesthetics then Mondrago might be interesting as well.

Anyway all three are great 2 player strategy games!
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Oliver Merkel
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cannoneer wrote:

The standard "criss-cross" setup is with 4 pieces, 2 from each player, in the 4 center board spaces, with same-side pieces arranged diagonally. Then the other 4 pieces are in the 4 corner squares. Each side has 4 pieces on an 8x8 grid.


I have to admit I did not get the "criss-cross" setup here. On igGameCenter ( http://www.iggamecenter.com/info/en/quartetto.html ) a board setup is shown being less "criss-crossed"?



In normal setup it is white on c8, d8, e8 and f8 and red on c1, d1, e1 and f1, right?

Which are the positions of the pawns in "criss-cross" setup?
Or did I invent a new game this way?
(white c8, d8, e1, and f1 ? red c1, c1, e8, and f8 ?)
 
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