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Let it never be said that, as hackneyed and solved as Tic-Tac-Toe is, that it isn’t inspirational. The number of games that are like Tic-Tac-Toe but with a twist is legion. In fact, there’s even a list devoted to just that subject. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/7522/the-tic-tac-toe-f...
Cover Up is definitely one of those games. In fact, by the standards of how crazy and outlandish they can get, it’s a pretty simple one as well.
The object of the game is to get four of your pieces in a row. The board itself, though, is five by five. You have five little pieces, four medium pieces and three big pieces. On your turn, you (unsurprisingly) put down a piece. A larger piece can cover up a smaller piece, hence the name of the game. You can move the large pieces into new locations but the small and medium sized pieces, once they’re in place, stay put.
And that’s it. That’s the entire game in a nutshell and a paragraph.
There’s not much too it. It doesn’t really cover ground that other games, in particular Goblet, haven’t already covered.
And yet… I like it.
Oh, not as a regular game and certainly not as a game I want to play over and over on a designated game night. However, as a quick filler with my girlfriend, it is one that we reach for. In fact, strangely enough, I sometimes like it more than Goblet, which is arguably a stronger game.
Part of it is that the components are very nice. The board, which has a built in storage pocket for the pieces, is small and solid, easy to play while sitting on the couch or in bed or on a picnic. The spaces are recessed so that the smaller pieces nicely slot in and don’t slide around. And speaking of the pieces, they are nice, solid disks.
However, I think the real reason is that the board is five-by-five but you only need to get four-in-a-row to win.
Tic-Tac-Toe and many (certainly not all) of its descendants have very tight, claustrophobic boards. Just having the one extra line of spaces in Cover Up really opens up the board. It gives you more wiggle room. While the center of the board is still important, it isn’t the lynch pin that it is in a game where you need to form a line all the way across the board. In short, that extra space gives you more ways to do things differently.
Of course, in the end, Cover Up is no Go. It's not even ZERTZ It is a light filler abstract to play when you don’t have time for one of the GIPF Project. Not a bad game. Not a game I’m getting rid of. Just another example of how you can make Tic-Tac-Toe interesting with a few extra choices.