In Ingenious, a.k.a. Einfach Genial, players take turns placing colored domino-style tiles on a game board, scoring for each line of colored symbols that they enlarge. The trick, however, is that a player’s score is equal to her worst-scoring color, not her best, so she needs to score for all colors instead of specializing in only one or two.
By all appearances, it’s just two players taking turns laying stones on a 19×19 (or smaller) grid of intersections. But once its basic rules are understood, Go shows its staggering depth. One can see why many people say it’s one of the most elegant brain-burning abstract games in history, with players trying to claim territory by walling off sections of the board and surrounding each other’s stones. The game doesn’t end until the board fills up, or, more often, when both players agree to end it, at which time whoever controls the most territory wins.
Quarto! has a 4×4 board and 16 pieces. Each piece has four dichotomous attributes – color, height, shape, and consistency – so each piece is either black or white, tall or short, square or round, and hollow or solid. The object is to place the fourth piece in a row in which all four pieces have at least one attribute in common. The twist is that your opponent gets to choose the piece you place on the board each turn.
A beautiful and beautifully simple game of laying a tile before your own token to continue its path on each turn. The goal is to keep your token on the board longer than anyone else’s, but as the board fills up this becomes harder because there are fewer empty spaces left… and another player’s tile may also extend your own path in a direction you’d rather not go. Easy to introduce to new players, Tsuro lasts a mere 15 minutes and actually does work for any number from 2 to 8.
Abraca…what? is a family game of deduction and spellcasting. On your turn, you try to cast one of the spells you have in front of you — but it’s harder than it looks because only the other players can see which spells are available to you! So with cunning wit, clever logic, and a little luck, you have to determine which spells to use against your competitors. Watch your magic words, though, because if you try to cast the wrong spell too often, you’ll lose the game!