If you appreciate fine quality games then you are going to love Aronda.
The first thing that catches your attention with Aronda is the wonderful quality of the components in this game from Gerhards Spiel und Design, a firm out of Germany.
The quality starts with the board, made of nicely grained wood. The pay area is cut int the board, so it will last forever. And the board has a nice bevel design so that it becomes a true gaming show piece. It would look outstanding on any desk or coffee table,m a definite plus in luring new people to try a game.
The game pieces are wood too. There is something about a game that avoids modern plastics which just screams classic, and you get that here. The pieces, in nicely painted dark blue and red, come with a nice cloth bag for storage too.
In terms of components, Aronda is as good as it gets.
As a game, Aronda is an abstract strategy one, meaning that winning relies on skill, not imposed luck. As an abstract game it is limited to two players, which is good since you need only one friend to drop in to play, although in a group setting the game is less playable since no one wants to just be a spectator.
The game was created and released in 2007 by designers Jens-Peter Schliemann and Michail Antonow. The pair created a game with some rather unique mechanics. The idea Antonow began with was one of conquering from the outside. You win a field through control of a majority of adjacent fields.
On your turn you get to place two 'placement pieces' on any empty outer ring, or any field which is connected to the outer ring by fields already captured. It sounds complicated, but it's not. It really just goes back to having to work from the outside ring of the circular play area toward the centre.
There are three distinct types of fields, two, three and four pierce ones. In order to control a given field you must have the designated number of placement pieces in place. At that point you get to place a possession piece, indicating that is your field.
The intricacy of the game comes from the fact that each time you take control of a field, it may set up a chain reaction where you can claim additional fields.
For example if you have possession of two fields, adjacent to an uncontrolled two-piece fold, you may claim it as yours, and that possession may then lead to other captures. One example illustrated in the rules shows one placement leading to the capture of eight fields.
There is a fine amount of balance in seeing how certain placements can set up extensive chain reactions to your benefit.
Equally important are seeing the instances where you must move to block your opponent before he gets to set off a big chain of events in their favour.
The game ends when all 25 fields are owned, with the winner being the one controlling the majority.
Ties are not possible, and that is a major attribute of the game.
The game plays quickly, but with definite depth requiring visualization of what certain placements can mean in terms of board domination.
With the outstanding quality of the components and the rather unique chain reaction mechanic, this is a game you will enjoy for years. A family gaming heirloom to be passed on to future generations.
Take a look at this great game at http://www.spiel-und-design.eu/
This review appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper July 22, 2009.