Friday, November 19, 2021

Squarcles- where minimalism makes it work

 I’ve been poking at a tiny game called Squarcles. It’s another game from this year’s One-Card Contest. You need four dice (ideally two white and two black but any two colors can work) and some way of keeping score so it’s pretty minimal.

It’s a speed puzzle game. The one-card part is a double sided card with a grid of interlocking black and white circles and squares.

Each turn, roll the dice and set aside the one that is the farthest from you. The three remaining dice define the elements you’ll be looking for. Odd numbers represent circles and even numbers represent squares. Black and white are black and white.

Flip the card over and everyone races to find a symbol on that side that has all the elements of the dice. First person to put their finger on a working symbol gets a points. Eight turns is a game and most points wins.

At first, since there are shapes inside shapes, I thought the actual values of the dice were an element. Nope, just even/odd and black/white. Which, to be honest, that makes the game workable.

The word that really comes to mind with Squarcles is functional. All of the parts work. The second word is portable. This isn’t a game I’d schedule. It’s for waiting for people to arrive or the food to get to the table. It’s probably he hilarious at a bar with drink players.

If I’d have had it way back when my collection fit in a backpack and was built around playing at coffee shops, Squarcles would have done well. It’s a pleasant little mental exercise. 

But what Squarcles really does is make me think of Ricochet Robots and Riciichet. Those were two of the first timed puzzle games I intentionally  tried. (Boggle is something that just happens to people. Good game but there is a cultural osmosis thing going on)

I still think of Ricochet Robots as one of the best examples of a timed puzzle game. But just about everyone I played it with didn’t like it. I couldn’t justify its space on the shelf. I do sometimes play it online or play Ricochet Pyramids, a Looney Pyramid tribute.

Ricochet (also published as Leonardo and Picus) was a deck of cards. The puzzles were finding the path created by five random cards. It’s honestly so-so but just being a deck of cards has kept in the collection.

So… times puzzles are very casual in my gaming life and smaller size work better. So Squarcles should do okay.

No comments:

Post a Comment