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Subject: Gaming with my Girls - Part XVI: FITS rss

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Brian Homan
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This is part sixteen in an ongoing series of reviews that I am writing about the games that my family plays, why we love them and what you should know before making a purchase. I have three unique daughters, ages 12, 10 and 7 who love to play games with me, and a wife who sometimes likes to join in. Finding games that we all enjoy can be a challenge, so I am constantly trying to introduce more games to the family to build a collection that we can all appreciate. Today's review:
FITS

FITS is a Tetris-like game from prolific designer Reiner Knizia. It's a multi-player solitaire game where players try to Fill In The Spaces (FITS) on their board to score the most points. Each player will begin with a starting piece determined by random card draw. Once positioned at the top of the board, pieces must be slid down into place, without sliding them to the left or right on the way down. Cards will be revealed in succession, showing the next piece to be played on all player's boards. If the card that comes up is the same as a player's starting piece, she just sits that turn out. This will happen once each round for each player. When all of the pieces have been played, the round is scored.



Each board has it's own scoring mechanism, but here's the gist of it:
Board #1: Fill in all the spaces. Players try to cover their entire board with their pieces. Any dots seen on the board at the end of the game are -1 point. Every completely covered row is worth 1 point.

Board #2: Fill in all but the numbered spaces. Players try to leave open only those spaces that have point values. Open spaces showing numbers in them at the end of the round are worth the number of points shown. Any dots showing at the end of the round that do not have a number in them are worth -1 point.

Board #3: Fill in all but the positive numbered spaces. Players try to cover all blank spaces and negative number spaces, while leaving open all positive numbered spaces. Positive/negative point spaces showing at the end of the round are worth the number of points indicated. All other open spaces left open at the end of the round are worth -1 point.

Board #4: Complete the pairs. This board has several spaces with shapes on them. There five pairs of each shape on the board. If both shapes in a pair are showing at the end of the round, the player gets 3 points. If only one shape in a pair is showing, the player gets -3 points. If neither is showing, no points are awarded or taken away. As always, blank dots showing at the end of the round are worth -1 point.

Highest cumulative score wins the game, and yes, you can end the game with a negative score!

So what's so great about this game?
cool It's very accessible. Thanks to games like Tetris, anyone ages 12-50 is probably at least familiar with this concept. The game takes all of 5 minutes to teach and is well understood by gamers and non-gamers alike.
It's fun for all ages. Kids from 6 to 99 will enjoy this simple little super-filler.
The components are well made. The plastic puzzle pieces are quite durable and can withstand pretty much any abuse you can dish out. The cardboard inserts are made of sufficiently thick stock, so as to not promote bending or warping. The plastic trays and bases are durable enough for casual play, but could suffer some damage if someone gets a little too excited (or frustrated).
laugh It's Tetris on steroids. These aren't your mama's quadraminos. Sure, the standard Tetris pieces are there, but so are some new, funky pentaminoes (we have actually named one of them "the funk"). Trying to fit these pieces in is tricky, fun and frustrating, which sets the perfect environment for this type of game.
surprise It's got a lot of expansions! There is one official expansion for the game, and three fan expansions that I know of (MOTS, LOTS and BOTS). If the base game leaves you wanting more, then there are lots of opportunities to make things more interesting for your family or gaming group.

It's not very expensive. The game can be had for ~$26, and sometimes cheaper on Amazon and eBay. You get your money's worth of fun in this game.
It works well for what it is. There's nothing earth-shattering here, but it's fun as long as everyone is engaged. If the game begins to drag too much, it will overstay it's welcome quickly.

So what's not so great about this game?
zombie Waiting for the right piece to come along can be frustrating, especially when it's the only piece that won't set you back a few points.
cry Scoring negative points for a round feels pretty bad. Scoring negative points for the game feels terrible! It is definitely possible to score negative for the game, so make sure that all people playing are aware of this possibility and can handle that outcome. Children, in particular, can have a hard time with this (as can some adults)!
gulp It's a fun game, but playing this too often could leave a bad taste in your mouth, causing it to sit on the shelf for quite some time. I recommend this in a rotation of games, and wouldn't plan on playing it more than twice in a sitting.
shake I suppose it couldn't be avoided, but the box for this one is a bit irregular. It's long and wide, without much depth. You know, just the right dimensions to be crushed beneath the weight of your other games.
soblue It maxes out at four players, so unless you buy another set, a family of 5+ won't be able to all play at once.

So what do we think?
Beka's (12) Opinion: This game is fun! I like playing Tetris, but I like how this game has different shapes and different ways of scoring. It can be frustrating when you get the wrong piece for what you're trying to do, though. Beka's Rating: 8
Lindsay's (10) Opinion: I like to play this once in a while. I like playing it, but it's not a game I want to play all the time. I like beating my dad at this. Lindasy's rating: 7.5
Abby's (7) Opinion: This game is a little hard for me. I don't like the changing rules, and I don't like it when I can't figure out how to put my pieces on the board (in a way that helps her). Abby's rating: 6
Kristin's Opinion: This is a fun game, but I'd rather play it with adults. The kids get a little too squirly if it goes on too long. They can also get a bit frustrated if things don't go their way. Kristin's rating: 7
My Opinion: I like FITS in moderation. I can't say that I love this type of game enough to run out and get the expansions, but there are definitely some fans out there. If you enjoyed Tetris, then you should at least give this game a look. You might just find your new family favorite. My rating: 6.5

Overall Opinion
: This is a good game to introduce your family to, especially if they like puzzles. If your child is easily frustrated or confused, then this may not be the game for them. The changing scoring rules add variety, but can be confusing for some, and getting exactly the wrong piece for your board can leave a sensitive child in tears. I wouldn't expect this to happen for most kids, but there are some who would definitely have a hard time with this. The good news is that if this game doesn't work out for your family, you can probably find a friend or relative to give it to who will love it. Overall rating: 7

I hope you enjoyed this review, and as always, please leave comments to help me do a better job in the future. I've been changing my style a little here and there to try to gauge what works best for folks. Let me know what works best for you!


:Edit:grammarshake
2nd edit: enlarged pictures thumbsup
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Brian Homan
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A geeklist of compiled reviews can be found here
 
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Doug Click
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I finally got around to ordering this... can't wait to see how my granddaughter enjoy it.
 
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Let us know how it goes.
 
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