Quinamid

Reviewer Reviewed On Publisher Designer Published In Rating
November 26, 2007 Third Dynasty Games Antony Brown 2007 9
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I have been a huge fan of Pentago and have probably played fifty to one hundred games over the last year. The simplicity combined with real strategy of this abstract game kept me coming back for more. When I read the rules to Quinamid (Third Dynasty Games, 2007 - Antony Brown), I was immediately reminded of Pentago - and much more in game play. Both games require getting five pieces of your color in a row, and both allow rotation of boards.

However, Quinamid has quickly become my favorite. With boards that both slide and rotate, the strategy, while simple, is simply marvelous. The basic game is interesting enough; but the advanced game with variants make this a true masterpiece - and one that I would stack up against any abstract game on the market. I've played Quinamid almost fifty times since I've received it, and there is a good chance it will become my favorite abstract game.

The game consists of five boards that are stacked on top of each other from largest to smallest. Each board has a ring of squares on its border, starting with the bottom - having twenty squares, to the top with only four. When stacked on top of each other, the board becomes a six by six grid of squares with twenty-four others covered at any given moment. Each player takes a pile of discs of their color (red and blue), and one player is chosen to go first; with play alternating between them.

On a player's turn, they do one of three things:
- Place a token in any free space on the board.
- Rotate one of the top four boards ninety degrees in either direction.
- Slide one of the top four boards one space, but staying within the confines of the board directly beneath it.
A player cannot rotate or slide the board that was just moved by an opponent and must continue to rotate or slide a board once they start, even if by doing so they put themselves in a worse position. Turn passes to the next player. The first player to get five tokens in a row wins!

The "basic" game does not allow rotations, while the "advanced" game does. There are also five variants that players may use.
- Players cannot place a piece in the top board on their first turn.
- Players can only place one piece in the top board the entire game.
- Players can't place a piece in the top board until they've placed one in every other board.
- Players must get six in a row.
- Players can only rotate boards clockwise; but can rotate a board just moved by the other player.

Comments on the game…

1.) Components: The five boards are quality wooden boards that slide and rotate easily. All of them stack to fit into a nice wooden box with sliding lid to form a very respectable looking game - one that will look exceptionally good on a coffee table. The tokens are red and blue discs that come in a small cloth drawstring bag and are quite easy to distinguish from each other. Because of the nature of the game, these discs need to be flat to allow the boards to slide over them, but they can occasionally be a bit difficult to get out of their slots once placed.

2.) Rules: The rules are on four pages, and these are mostly pictures of the boards being shown on how to exactly rotate or slide them. Teaching the game is a cinch, as the concept of five-in-a-row is something most people have seen before; and it's easy to understand the rotating and sliding mechanics. Some people might have a harder time with the fact that the board is considered with a bird's eye view and that adjacent pieces are adjacent even if one is four levels higher than the other; but that's easily overcome.

3.) Strategy: In the basic game - and I use the word basic to mean "without variants", as I can't understand why anyone would want to play without rotating - the initial strategy is obvious - get the top board filled! Since it can never be covered, it's important to have at least two pieces up there, as they will constantly be threatening your opponent. Interestingly enough, Quinamid is the first five-in-a-row game that I've played that isn't won through diagonal rows as much, and I think it's because of the sliding of the boards. Once one player gets four in a row in the middle - a killer strategy in other games, they put the other player on the defensive, who must then move or rotate a board to stay in the game. This can lead to more defensive play; and a player can struggle futilely until finally losing. Players must realize that rotating and sliding are good, because they can set the board up the way they want to; but they will have one less piece on the board than their opponent. On the other hand, sliding over pieces is quite fun, because one can reveal them later to win the game or simply knock out a bunch of the opponent's pieces temporarily from the game.

4.) Variants: If you'll notice, three of the variants deal with the top board, and that's because it becomes such an obvious strategy for players. The third variant, that of placing a counter in the bottom four boards before the top board, is by far the best and the only one I use when playing on a general basis. Getting six in a row is quite difficult, actually changing the game to some degree, and rotating the board only clockwise really has an odd effect on how players place pieces. The variants are nicely thought through - should be required for advanced players - but I can see why they weren't included in the original game.

5.) Fun Factor: The fact that the game only takes five to ten minutes to play is a real draw to me, and I love that my young seven year old daughter can play fairly well - learning how to look ahead with planning strategy. Rotating and moving the board to get that "aha!" feeling when you manage to get five in a row is very satisfying, and it's nice to have a game that completes the evolution of Connect Four in a strategic and tactical way. Quinamid almost feels like a cross between Pentago and Gobblet - and I say that in a good way - it's a game I'll be playing in ten years with as much enjoyment as I do now.

I highly recommend Quinamid; from the quality components to the simple yet engaging rules, this is one of the best games of 2007 - and easily one of my favorite two-player abstract games. When using the variants, it can become rather deep, yet never so overwhelming as to cause me to dislike it. A two-player game that I can enjoy with my wife, children, or a friend who drops by, Quinamid will likely never leave my collection - an exceptional game.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"