When the Spiel Des Jahres nominees are announced, I always check out any games that I don’t already know. Fits was one of these and, whilst it looked light, it sounded different and entertaining.
In essence, Fits is Tetris the board game. Each player has their own board and will slide Tetris block shape tiles down their board until they can go no further - no horizontal movement is allowed. The board is covered in a grid of dots and, when all the tiles have been placed, players score points based on what dots on the board are covered and not covered. Each player has the same set of tiles (shapes) but each player has a slightly different situation as each player starts with a single random piece already on their board and each player’s starting tile will be different compared to each other. Cards are then revealed one at a time showing a specific tile to be placed on the boards and all players place that tile. A piece that is good for you may not be for your opponents. Players do have the choice not to place a tile on their board and just set it aside without penalty but this means they will never get to place the tile and that may mean they may not have enough tiles to cover all the places they need.
When all the cards have been drawn (i.e. the players have had a chance to place every tile), the points are added up and the next round begins. Each round is played on a separate board which has a different layout of dots to be covered and some different rules. Round 1 is simple as it’s just a field of dots and every dot not covered is -1 point. Round 2 has some dots which are worth +1, +2 and +3 points. Round 3 is like round 2 but some are worth -5 points. And, in round 4, some dots have coloured symbols on them: you get +3 points if a pair of matching symbols are left uncovered, -3 points if only one of a symbol is left uncovered, and zero points if both are covered. So, each round is different.
Fits is fun, light and is fast to play too. There are some entertaining and agonising choices to make - most fun when you hear each player groan when a terrible piece (for them) needs to be placed. In fact, even though you can’t really see each other’s boards easily, you do still commentate to the other players, "argh, this piece is useless". It can feel a bit like playing a single-player game with others so it’s a bit of a multi-player solitaire game, but that’s not necessarily a negative
I feel there are a couple of downsides to the game. First, there are only 4 different rounds in the game. Whilst 4 is long enough for a short game, I would have liked more round cards so there was more variety and this would enhance the longevity. Reiner Knizia has released 4 more official rounds on his web site and Ted Alspach has released 12 new unofficial rounds on his site too. So, there are free expansions available, and I hope more will be released by other players too. However, I would have liked more to have come with the game itself, especially as my printed versions won’t look as good.
The other downside I see is that I would like to increase player interaction. One method would be to have some way of sending trouble to other players. If you’ve ever played multi-player game of a video game like Bust-a-move (aka Puzzle Bobble) then you’ll know the satisfaction of doing something well on your side and sending something nasty to the other player. In the case of Fits, maybe covering a set of shapes means the selected opponent has to miss a turn. Or, maybe if a player completely fills a row then any other player who has not done so must place the next tile in a specific orientation. (I may even attempt to create boards myself to create this gameplay.)
However, these downsides are not too important, especially as free expansions are available, because Fits is a filler game for a wide range of ages. Overall, Fits is very light, quick and simple fun - if you have that expectation at the start, you should enjoy it.
[Played with 2 players]
This review and other reviews of Essen Spiel 09 games on my blog at http://thegameofgaming.wordpress.com