Hi guys, this is my first review, so please give me feedback. The review is a bit lenghty mainly because there are no rules posted about the game (I'm waiting approval of the publisher to post them here in BGG) so I gave an overview of the rules here.
A Concrete Review of an Abstract Game 1 - Aero
Category: Abstract Strategy
- Modular board
- Piece placement
- N in a row
Play Time: 10 – 20 min
Number of players: 2
This abstract strategy game was designed to be lightly themed around cold and hot air streams for a 4-game series of abstract strategy games based on the Pre-Socratic classical elements. This one is, naturally, their take on the Air element.
Disregarding the theme the game is about getting rid of your hand, either by eliminating all your chips OR all your rings.
The components are good, but I may say that the overall impressions they pass are of cheapness. It’s almost like I could improvise the game at my home, with a few bucks. Even thought I can’t say they are awesome, the whole package per se primes for the functionality, with a few good surprises. I’m not disappointed at all, mainly because is a small company and this was its first game published.
The board: The board is made of a 32 x 32 cm square-cut acrylic piece with a huge sticker on it (like 30 x 30 cm) depicturing the artwork. I thought it was a good solution, and I like it. It is functional and the artwork matches the theme well without disturbing the game. The board is sturdy and can handle his share of playing, also the publisher says it is water proof (not that I’m willing to prove this theory).
The pieces: There are two sets – red and blue – that consist of 18 chips and 12 rings. One player receives the red set and the other the blue one. Also, there are 6 white rings which are used to setup the board and the unused ones a common pool/reserve. These are components that transpire cheapness. All of them are made of plastic, I’d say average quality, but they look like they were bought in those retail shops where you usually go for spare game parts. Nonetheless, the chips fit in the rings nicely, so the set are pretty much functional.
The white rings are a nice touch and they are the components mainly responsible for replayability. You can try different initial setups with them and they add something good to the gameplay.
The rulebook: the rules are presented in a coloured book, with seven pages. The rules are simple, can be explained in about 5 – 10 minutes and the publisher gives plenty of gameplay examples which helps clarify any ambiguous points in the rules.
To setup the game, place 4 white rings in the four central spaces of the board. The two leftover rings are the common pool and can be used later by any player. Each player receives a set of pieces.
By the rules, Red begins. Players take alternate turns, every turn having 2 actions.
• First action: Place one chip of their hand. A player can instead choose to place a white ring of the common pool, if available.
• Second Action: Place one ring of their hand AND place any bonus rings available (later we will see how a player wins bonus rings)
To balance a perceived first player advantage, Red, in their first turn, will take just one action, whatever he wants.
- A chip can only be placed inside a ring and a ring can only be placed in an empty house.
- A ring can support a maximum of 3 chips. When a ring reaches the total number of chips it can uphold, its colour is switched to match the third chip’s colour. The ring replaced is then returned to its owner or to the common pool. This called a conversion.
- If a player completes, in any given time, a new line of at least 4 rings OR 4 chips in a row (orthogonally or diagonally) he forms what is called an AERO and wins the right to place another 1 chip of his own . This extra chip (or bonus chip) is placed in the second action of the player’s same turn. As with normal chips the player can instead choose to place a white ring if available.
A player wins another bonus chip when a line goes from 4 to 5 or 6 in a row.
A player wins another bonus chip when a line goes from 5 to 6 in a row.
There’s no limit of bonus chips one can achieve in a turn.
The winner is the player who gets rid of his chips OR rings. He scores the amount of rings and chips left in the opponent’s hand. Players switch places and play another game with the same setup.
Controlling the height of the stacks is important because of the conversion rule. You don’t want to be the player placing a second chip on the ring; you want to be the player putting the third one. When you lose a ring, is the same thing as losing half a turn, and worse: depending on the location of the conversed and sealed house you can lose a lot more possibilities and combinations.
Talking about combos, they are extremely important and for me the heart of the game: normally I’d give my opponent one AERO or two just for the sake of positioning my rings and chips in a way that I can win a lot of bonus chips in the same turn. Once I achieved like 4 bonuses in a turn and it gave me versatility in placing the chips and sealing houses and controlling stacks.
One thing that I like too is the fact that it has two winning conditions. I’ve won with both and I don’t think one is more difficult than another basically because of the difference in numbers: 12 rings to 18 chips.
Regarding the white rings, they are the replayability and using them instead of your chips can be interesting once in a while; although you are losing half a turn when it comes to diminish your hand, they can be used to not put a chip where you don’t want to.
And a note about first player advantage: Well, I played all the games as the blue player without the first red turn rule, and won all the games without problems, so I don’t think the first player has a huge advantage.
The game has its fair share of depth. I’m not saying it is a real brainburner but definitely you have to think some moves ahead, as making combos are a huge part of the game. Overall AERO is a quick game, a light filler between the heavy ones. At first impression I thought “nah, no more 4-in-a-row games!” but this feature as a mechanic combined with some interesting twists makes a unique game worth trying.
- Last edited Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:24 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:56 am
Re: A Concrete Review of an Abstract Game 1 - Aero
You get a thumb for the clever review title alone.
Re: A Concrete Review of an Abstract Game 1 - Aero