Friday, September 8, 2023

Splitter rises above mediocrity but not into greatness

 The title is pretty much the summary.

I think that it’s fairly obvious if you look at my blog, I really enjoy Roll and Writes. That’s in no small part due to they are both very PnP friendly and very solitaire friendly as a rule.

I also realized that I divide them into two basic categories: coffee break games and bigger, crunchier games. I play a lot more coffee break games but I also realize that they aren’t what I normally would pull out if I actually had an opponent.

Splitter is definitely in the coffee break category.

As a concept, Splitter is very, very, very simple. You are filling out a symmetrical shape of blocks. Each turn, you roll two dice. You fill in each number on the shape but the two numbers have to be mirrored on the shape/symmetrical to the center lines. (Same difference but pick the one that makes the most sense to you)

You score groups of numbers but _only_ is the group is the same number as its number. Five fives are worth five points for example. Four or six fives are worth nothing. There are a couple different bonuses but that’s basically the game.

There are two different boards, one of which is more complex and has a whopping two different kinds of bonuses. They both have forty-four boxes so games will always be twenty-two turns.

I think that Reiner Knizia’s Criss Cross might be simpler but Splitter is definitely incredibly minimalist.

You have more agency in Splitter than I was worried you would have. I have expected there to be none and the dice would entirely dictate the game. But building up sets and then protecting sets actually takes some work, along with luck.

That said, I don’t know if twenty-two rounds is enough for the dice to average out so you can make informed choices. There are also isn’t any way to manipulate dice to mitigate bad rolls. And one or two bad rolls can sink a game.

Those aren’t fatal flaws for the game. It is short enough that bad luck isn’t intrinsically frustrating. And the mirror placement, well, not unknown, is unusual enough to be interesting.

I’ve found Splitter more engaging than I expected and already gotten more plays out it than I thought I would. That said, I also found it very average for its niche. As someone who learns Roll and Writes to decompress, it’s nice. However, I would recommend other games, like Criss Cross or That’s Pretty Clever or Qwixx, over it.

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