Wednesday, April 27, 2016

HUE - the gateway to Pack O Games

HUE is the first game in the Pack O Game series and, in some ways, could be considered the ambassador for the series on a whole.

Every game in the series consists of thirty cards, each one cut to about a third the width of a regular card. That means you get stick-like cards and a deck looks literally like a stick of gum.

HUE is the tile laying member of the family. Every card is divided into three squares and three different colors, although about half the cards have the colors divided the long way, making them skinny lines.

Everyone gets five to six cards, including one with a poison symbol in the middle. Special rainbow cards are set out to start the board and then everyone takes turns placing a card on the board. Cards must share at least one edge with cards already out but they can cover one square of a previously placed card.

Now, here's the good bit. You don't play the last card in your hand. You score with it. For each color on the card, you score points equal the largest area of that color on the board. You score double points for the color in the middle of your scoring card. But any area that has a poison symbol is zeroed out and doesn't count for scoring.

The biggest hurdle HUE has to overcome is that there are a lot of time laying games out there and there are even a lot of pocket-sized ones. The Clever Pipe Game and Aquarius were two of the first games I picked up, before I even started collecting games seriously. It takes a lot to stand out in the pack.

But HUE does have a twist that makes it interesting. Your last card being your scoring card, particularly when you get your whole hand at the start. It gives you an end goal at the very start but also gives you the flexibility to change that goal if you have to.

Mind you, HUE doesn't fire Aquarius or small tile laying games for me. However, the more I play it, the more I enjoy it. It keeps growing on me. I don't think I'd turn down a game (it doesn't hurt that the playtime is so short)

None of the first series of the Pack O Game games reinvent the wheel. They all use tried and true mechanics, with just a couple twists to give them their own flair. By being a part of such a large family of tile-laying games, HUE doesn't stand out as much as some of the others like BUS or TAJ. But it is still a solid, well designed game.

HUE really is a good introduction to Pack O Games. It is easy to teach, even to non-gamers. However, the scoring makes it interesting, even for serious gamers. Honestly, the fact that it comes in such a portable package is just gravy.

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