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Subject: Inverse: An underrated abstract rss

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Ryan Smith
United States
Shelton
Washington
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So I noticed there aren't any reviews on Inverse, so I figured I had better whip something up about a game that is new to my collection, but already a loved game by both my wife.

Inverse is a short (VERY SHORT) abstract game for 2 players. If you are someone who enjoys theme, or wants to have some theme related motivation for how you play your pieces, this game is not at all for you. It has less theme than checkers, and significantly less pieces as well!

The contents of the box include a wooden playing board which is a simple 12x12 grid. Also included are 10 colored blocks, 2 sets of 5 blocks each.

The object of the game is to be the last person to play your piece on the board, if after you play your piece your opponent is unable to play their piece (either because there is no room, or it violates one of the 3 placement rules) then you are declared the winner.

As you can imagine, any game where you play at most, 5 pieces (and don't ever move them) is over in a quite short amount of time. But in that short amount of time there are a LOT of decisions and strategy to be made.

There are only 4 rules to Inverse, and they are quite simple:
1 A block can not be played in the same manner as another block of the same color. For example there is a blue 4x4x12 block. This block only has 2 possible ways it can be played on the board. It can be played "standing on end" taking up a 4x4 area of the board, or it can be played "laying down" taking up a 4x12 area of the board. So if your opponent plays his blue block on end, this forces you to have to play your blue block laying down, and since the board is only a 12x12 grid this can force you in to having an "unplayable" piece quite quickly.

2 Blocks of the same color can not touch on any edge. Pretty simple, if your opponent lays down his black block, your black block can not have a shared edge anywhere orthoginally (sp?) adjacent to that block.

3 Blocks of the same height can not touch on any edge. Again, pretty simple, even if the blocks are different color, if you are playing them at the same height along a shared edge, just like color, it is an illegal move.

4 Blocks can not be stacked. All blocks must be placed on the 12x12 grid.

In those 4 simple rules, a simple yet elegant game is birthed.

When I first received this game I received it from a friend who had purchased it, played 2-3 games with his wife, and concluded that it was a bit dull because every game they had ended with a tie. Now I don't know if they misread the rules and were playing adjacent colors/heights or if they are just the 2 nicest people in the world and made moves to allow their opponent and open position to play. But for my wife and I, we played 20 games last night, the first game ended in a tie as we were both just "figuring it out" and after that every single game ended with one of us declared a winner by forcing the other person in to holding an "unplayable" block.

After an hour of even game play we called it a night, but both of us thought it was a fantastic game with simple rules, lightening fast gameplay, but surprisingly deep strategy and complex decisions to be made.

My wife described it as a more fun and challenging version of Quarto. I don't know if it exactly describes it, but it does tend to use the same area in your brain where you have to have good spacial awareness of both your pieces and your opponents pieces.

I have seen the game listed for anywhere between $20 and $40, but I know Barnes and Noble had them on sale a while back for $8! I passed it up then (choosing Ingenious instead) but now I regret that I had passed it up based primarily on the fact that this game only had 16 rankings on BGG and was ranked quite poorly by 15 other players.

If you are someone who enjoys a good abstract I would highly encourage you to seek out a copy of Inverse, it is an excellent 2 player filler with a lot more depth than first may think.

My ranking for gameplay is:
(7 out of 10)

My ranking for fun is:
(9 out of 10)

My ranking for quality of components is:
(10 out of 10)

My overall ranking for this game is:
(8 out of 10)
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David Estall
United Kingdom
Bisley
Surrey
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Great review! I've only just discovered this game on BGG and it really appeals - I like the idea of a quick abstract game with chunky wooden pieces, played in 3 dimensions. I'd love to own a copy, but it is proving very tricky to track down, especially here in the UK.
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Mark Brown
United States
North Liberty
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Nice job on this review! Just added Inverse to my wishlist!
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Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
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I have played with Niek, the inventor. He played quickly and won every time. He attributed it to being an architect and having a strong three-dimensional imagination. But I bet there was strategy involved as well.
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John Gallant
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Dartmouth
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Does the height restriction in the rules mean that when you place a piece, in whatever orientation, the top of it can't be at the same height as something next to it? ie. the green and black pieces have a dimension that IS the same, but can they be placed next to one another in different orientations?
 
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Tim Mierz
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Middletown
Connecticut
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Cheeseburger wrote:
Does the height restriction in the rules mean that when you place a piece, in whatever orientation, the top of it can't be at the same height as something next to it? ie. the green and black pieces have a dimension that IS the same, but can they be placed next to one another in different orientations?


Yes, you can't have two adjacent blocks at the same height as each other.
 
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