Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ada Lovelace: evolving Tetris puzzle

GenCan't Roll and Write and Library - Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician 

(Which is just going to be called Ada for the rest of the review)

An artifact has been stolen from a hoity toity museum in the 1840s. You take on the role of Ada Lovelace, analytical specialist and sleuth. Examining evidence through out the museum, you need to figure out who the thief is.

Ha ha, I'm totally joking. You are actually filling in an irregular grid with shapes determined by rolling dice and consulting a shape wheel. The grid is the map of the museum. You get points by filling in rooms and surrounding pieces of evidence (which are actually squares that are already filled in) Surrounded evidence will also give you special abilities BUT they are fueled by dice rolls and you have precious few.

Oh, and when you consult the scoring chart, you find out that the real thief is Ada Lovelace and you're just pinning the blame on Lord Byron who's been dead for years.

Ada was one of the finalists for GenCan't's Roll and Write contest and it shows. This is a really good puzzle game. You really don't have nearly enough moves to fill in the grid, let alone use the special powers. So the game is full of of tough decisions and every move means you have to sacrifice other moves.

Ada combines two important things. It creates an interesting puzzle, one that can't be automatically solved because are pieces are randomly generated. Ada also creates tension because you are under the clock. You will run out of dice and you will leave a lot unfinished on the board.

Oh, I suppose I should mention that this is a print and play game. It's a super easy build, two pages with no cutting. Just print two pages and add some dice and a pencil, which is pretty standard for the GenCan't games.

Ada is definitely a game I will keep playing. Maybe I'm just bad at puzzles but I've found this to be a pretty tough game. I'm willing to bet there are some solid strategies but the die rolls mean you can't follow a formula. I'm looking at another game by the same designer, Bento Blocks, which uses a similar shape puzzle formula but is designed for multi-player. 

If you like games like Ubongo or BITS or Blokus, you will like Ada. It is very abstract and it is very much a puzzle. If you don't like those things, you probably won't enjoy Ada. But if you've ever dreamed of Tetris shapes, you will probably like Ada.

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