Stripped down to the basics, Pocket Ops is a Tic Tac Toe variation. Before you make your move, your opponent guesses where you will place your stone and, if they get it right, blocks your move. The demo comes with one special piece, that assassin, that can take the place of an already placed stone. The full game will come with other special pieces.
It was a five minute build. Two decks of nine cards for guessing your opponent's moves, a tiny board and I used tokens from my PnP tool box.
On the one hand, Pocket Ops is much better than Tic Tac Toe. Super simple modifications that are very easy to explain, Pocket Ops definitely achieves its goal of taking a game everyone knows and giving it a designer spin.
On the other hand, we still weren't that engaged by it. A lot of the time, we had blocks of null moves because we were able to call each other's bluff. And the three by three board ultimately felt cramped and limited, part of what made the bluffing less interesting.
I'm torn, really. I think that Pocket Ops is a super clever idea and a take on Tic Tac Toe that makes the game more interesting without being fiddle. But, at the same time, we weren't that excited by it.
Keep in mind, short and tiny games have become a hobby of mine. I have played a lot of them over the last few years. And Pocket Ops just doesn't make the list of ones I would automatically reach for or be jonesing to play.
So we've decided that Pocket Ops isn't for us. At the same time, it is a clever enough design that I do intend to keep on following the company.