New South Wales
Objective: (What you must do to win)
The game doesn't have an ultimate objective, as the game can last as long or as little as you like. However, there are two smaller objectives: namely the objectives for one entire round of play and the objective for a single hand of play.
A single game of Hex Hex goes for a number of hands equal to players +1. The objective for the round is to be the player with the most Voice (points). Doing so allows you to instigate a new rule for subsequent games. If you've ever played Bartok, you'll be familiar with this idea.
Within a single hand of play, you are attempting to ensure that the Hex(es) that are flying around the table do not go off on you. Even better, ensuring that you are the player that passed the Hex to the player on whom it goes off on grants you the much craved Voice.
Complexity: (How many rules to get your head around)
The rules are quite easy. It is almost always the default game I resort to to getting new people warmed up for a day of gaming or to intersperse the bigger games. It's light, it's simple and even better the rules for the cards are written on them meaning you don't need to crib sheet anything.
However, when teaching new players I make sure I pull out a couple of the cards to demonstrate the sorts of things they can expect.
Aesthetics: (How shiny I think it is)
One of the things that I enjoy about this game is the faux alchemy symbols that make the game so iconic. It allows you to really imagine the idea of symbols that might be used to invoke these powers.
Strategy: (How deep the strategy in the game seems to be)
It is a game that strongly depends on luck, that is to say the hand you're dealt with. However, I've found then that strategy can then lie in playing players off on each other. The best bet is to try and make sure players are targeting each other through subtle misdirections.
To Hex Hex or Not Hex Hex?
The use of the Hex Hex in the game does alter the game style a bit. It's like the ultimate bastard card and normally ends the hand very quickly. For this reason it seems to be very much a disliked thing.
Most of the time I tend to leave it out of the game to allow people to enjoy the game play a lot more. Of course, since it's a game that thrives on chaos, I sometimes sneak it in anyway.
Lastly, here's a list of new rules that our players often use:
- "All references to hand size are increased by two"
- "Any player who reaches zero or negative voice cannot speak during play. Doing so results in a penalty of one voice."
- "All references to left are now right, and vice versa."
- "You are now paired with the person across from you. Every time they lose voice, so do you."
- "All references to drawing cards are doubled."
- "The person with the least amount of voice at the start of any hand gains an extra starting card."
- "Detonate detonates all Hexes on the board."
- "At the beginning of the hand, pass one of your cards to the player on the left."
- "You cannot touch cards that have hit the table during play. Doing so causes the loss of a voice."
- "By sacrificing a voice and a card from your hand, you can force an opponent to discard a card of their choice."
- "By sacrificing a voice before the hand begins, you may draw a card. You cannot sacrifice voice if it would drop your voice to 0."
- "Any time you play a card with the word left, right, or across, you must touch that card to your left ear, right ear, or chin respectively. Failing to do so results in discarding the card you would have played."
- "When you have become the Hex, you must declare 'so mote it be,' failing to do so results in the loss of an extra voice."
- "Playing the Hex Hex allows you to search through the deck and take a card of your choice instead of its normal ability. Afterwards, shuffle the deck."
- "During play, you cannot ask a question. Doing so penalises you with the loss of a card from your hand at random (or a single voice if you have no cards)."
- "When you play your last card, you must declare 'curses!' or lose a voice."
Highlights: (What impressed me about the game the most)
Despite its premise as a very chaotic game, this really seems to work for it. Games can get heated and intense with fast flying action and people doing the dirty on each other. It seems to be a game that anyone can get into.
However, the big highlight has to be the slow accumulation of additional rules. After several rounds of play, the build up of rules can create some truly heinous interactions.
Sticking Points: (What I think could be improved about the game)
The set up of the game really works best with four players. While it's possible to do more this seems to drag the game out a little too long, and with three it doesn't work as well.
Duet: (is it good for two players?)
I have yet to find a way to make this game work as a duet. I don't believe there is one.