Abstract games like chess have been popular for millennia and are still played by millions of people around the world today. The next Garry Kasparov or Maurice Ashley is not among us, yet many of us have attempted to play this age-old game at least once. As a two-player game with no hidden moves and complete information (no hidden moves), modern board games frequently draw influence from chess due to its light (or lack of) theme.
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There are a plethora of modern abstract games available for the chess or abstract game enthusiast in your life.
1. Rock Me Archimedes
Rock Me Archimedes’ teeter-totter board is sure to catch the interest of any gamer or non-gamer who sees it. The object of the game is to be the first to place four marbles in the home base of your opponent. Take care when you roll a die and move your marbles; as the marbles are moved, the board begins to rock. On your turn, if it reaches the table, you are out of the game.
This winner of the Spieles des Jehres competition has been a tremendous hit with both gamers and non-gamers alike.. Players in Azul are tile-laying artisans who decorate the Royal Palace of Evora with dazzling tiles.” — Raf Cordero It’s done by building up rows and rows of tiles one at a time. An empty row prevents you from adding a tile to your mosaic, while overfilling an empty row results in penalties. Because of this, “denial” is a viable option in the game.
Our favorite tile-laying game is Tsuro, a game in which the last dragon standing wins. Indigo is the result of Reiner Knizia’s unique approach to the game. It is similar to Tsuro in the sense that you set tiles on a board to direct your pieces; but, in Indigo, you’re guiding those pieces to earn points, and with the appropriate amount of forethought you may lead your opponents’ pieces to smash into each other.
Don’t be fooled by the tranquility of the trees inPhotosynthesis. According to Shea Parker, the game’s “gentle theme, the simple mechanics, and the adorable woodland creatures poking out of the trees all serve to mask the truth: hidden within this bouquet is a cutthroat, treacherous, backstabbing game that you will want to pour your brain into over and over again.”
In Element, you’ll strive to encircle your opponent’s sage by taking on the roles of fire, water, earth, and wind. As each variety travels in a distinct way, you’ll need a strategy for both attacking and defending your sage. There are intriguing decisions to be made each round because of the game’s structure: do you take more materials from the bag and move your sage less, or do you sacrifice some mobility in order to get more elements into the board? Most tacticians will appreciate the delicate process of balancing.
Santorini, a 3D abstract game that has been existing since 2004, was revived as a Kickstarter success after it was re-themed and modeled by the stunning architecture of Santorini, Greece. Before the game was available at Target, Sax Carr had written a review of the game. Move one of your builders a single space and construct a single building level on an adjacent square on a given round. That concludes our discussion. The victor of the game is the first player to move any of his or her pawns all the way up to the third level. Until you put it to the test, you’ll think it’s a piece of cake.”
9. Blokus Duo
If you don’t have enough time to play the classic Blokus, the Blokus Duo is a great alternative. Stacks of Tetris-like pieces are placed on the board by each player one at a time. You must arrange one of your pieces next to another, but only at the corner of the other piece. When both players have exhausted their lawful placement options, the person with the fewest remaining pieces is declared the winner. If things don’t go your way in the first round, you’ll be wishing for a rematch right away.
As a two-player game, Onitama is a streamlined version of chess that nevertheless provides a challenge. Onitama is a 15-minute game that may be enjoyed by any gamer, but especially those who have a like for chess or checkers, as I wrote about in my review: “Featuring top-notch components, dozens of movement cards for replayability, and a 15-minute game play length.”
11. War Chest
This is “the kind of game that lingers with you, the way that a good meal adheres to your ribs,” says Teri Litorco, Geek & Sundry editor. “It’s also the kind of game that doesn’t require you to invest hours sitting down.” It has the look and feel of a classic game like chess, but with a modern twist thanks to the wide range of units available.
In a way, Pentago is like Connect Four, but with a constantly shifting board. After placing one of your tokens on the board, you will rotate the portion of the board in which it is located each time you turn. The game is won by the first player to make five consecutive connections of the same color. The dynamic nature of the board means that victory or defeat are always just a move away.