Multi-Player Pentago

It’s like tic-tac-toe, don’t you know. Only you have to get five-in-a-row instead of three. Which is almost all you need to know about Pentago, so, naturally, you assume you don’t really have to learn anything else in order to have yourself a good old time outsmarting opponents. And if you happen to know the ancient Chinese game of Go-Moku (a.k.a. “Go Bang,” or your more descriptive “Five-in-a-Row”), well, then, you know even more about playing Pentago, because in Pentago (“pent” as in five) you have to get five-in-a-row in order to win. Except for the turning-a-section-of-the-board part. I mean, even with the turning-a-section-of-the-board part, you still really know more than enough to play the game. You just might not know enough to keep from, well, losing.

You might want to practice a bit, just to get the feel of it, so you might consider visiting the vividly illustrative on-line version of Pentago before reading any further. Of course, you won’t gain much of an insight into the strategic significance of playing multi-player Pentago, which, as you might surmise from the title of this review, is the very version about which we are currently enthusing.

In sum, it’s called “multi-player” because two, three, or even four players can play it together. Or, should you be so oriented, you can play in teams, hence significantly raising the number of potentially engaged players. Which means that even though you might have figured out how to play Pentago, achieved demonstratable mastery over the online version, and already have the original version or perhaps even the more original wooden version of two-player Pentago Classic; multi-player Pentago is something significantly other because more things of sometimes profoundly strategic impact happen between turns.

What you get with Multi-Player Pentago is nine turning board sections with which to play, and four different color pieces (each piece being two-sided, each side being of a different color). But more about this later.

You also get a very well-made, aesthetically pleasing game board, a couple of lovely little velvet-like draw-string bags within which to store your pieces, in a durable box with a velvitishly-lined filler, and exceptionally clear, well-illustrated instructions including just enough strategic insights to entice you and your friends to explore nuances of piece-placement and board-section-turning and two- vs three- vs four-player encounters for the rest of your natural lives.

Unless, of course, given such an easily learned game of such almost archetypal elegance, you decide to explore variations, such as: what would happen if you could, say, turn over one of your opponent’s pieces so that it became some other color (hopefully yours), or if you were allowed to move a piece that you’ve already placed, or if you place two pieces down at the same time as long as they were or were not adjacent. Then you might need to teach your children how to play so they can carry on after you.

Pentago – very well-made, very well-conceived; a game you can learn in minutes and spend months trying to master, that takes anywhere from three to thirty minutes to play, that is as fun for a six-year-old as it is for someone as old as you.

What else can we say? Major fun, in all its manifestations (though Multiplayer Pentago seems just a tad more Major! A conceptual gift from Mindwister.

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