October 20, 2015

New Favorite Boardgame: Quoridor

I picked up this nice little boardgame called Quoridor at an ukay-ukay store not too long ago.  It was my lucky day; all the pieces were complete and intact, the board was clean and scratch-free, nary a fold on the included booklet.  Usually, the boardgames you find at thrift stores have a few pieces missing, and  you'll have to make do.  This Quoridor game is as spanking new as new can be, and for such a steal.

Designed by Mirko Marchesi, Quoridor is basically a turn-based game where players race each other to get to the opposite side of the board.  At each turn, you can do one of two things: either move your pawn one square at a time or erecting a wall.  The trick is to thwart your opponent with your strategically placed walls.  You can't lock your opponent, and you always have to keep a route to the other side of the board open for them.  But you can make his or her journey as circuitous as possible, in the hopes that the lovely maze that eventually transforms over the course of the game doesn't hamper your own token.

Face off!
Notice I said "lovely maze".  Ever since I was a kid I've always been fascinated with mazes.  In grade school, I'd painstakingly draw elaborate mazes on a piece of bond paper, the kind with portals that transport you back and forth both sides of the paper.

It must have been that entry about the word "labyrinth" in Webster's dictionary , and how in Greek mythology the grisly Minotaur was stationed there--why I'm so fond of mazes.  (Further reading into how the Minotaur and the Labyrinth came to be will lead you into topics of betrayal and bestiality, but I digress.)

The original Labyrinth

Anyway, there was that Labyrinth game we used to play on Famicom, based on Jim Henson's movie, which up to now I still haven't watched.  The game, too, I never did get to finish.  And one other maze-related game I loved as a kid: the Crystal Maze!, which deserves a revival.  Oh wait, they're doing that already.

But back to Quoridor, my new favorite offline game.  The game that Gigamic produced is so beautifully crafted, from the dark slotted wooden board to the wooden walls to the four tokens, the whole thing is almost a work of art.  Gigamic actually produces various other boardgames in luscious wood configurations.  All of them are deviously simple and fun to play, and you can just leave them on the coffeetable like some incidental decor.

What's to love about Quoridor:

  • Easy mechanics.
  • Easy enough for kids to be pitted against adults.
  • Takes about eight to ten minutes to play, so faster turnaround.
  • Requires a good mix of skill, strategy, and luck
  • Can be played by 4 players as well.
Online versions of Quoridor have cropped up, mostly using crappy animation.  This is one of those games that is best played in the real world.  

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