Pathagon

Once you get over how beautifully made the game is, how the wooden board and pieces are so finished, so pleasant to touch, how the octagonal pieces fit so perfectly (with just the amount of looseness to make them easy to place and remove, with exactly the right thickness so that you can easily lift them from between the pegs that keep them in position), you will finally find yourself able to appreciate the game itself.

Pathagon is an easy to learn (maybe five minutes), two-player strategy game. Each player has 14 octagonal pieces, each of a different color. The opposite sides of the square board have the same color as one set of pieces. The object of the game is to be first to create an unbroken line of your pieces from one of edges of the board (marked with the same color as your pieces) to the other.

At first glance, the educated gamer might be sorely tempted to conclude that Pathagon is another embodiment of the now classic game of Twixt. However, a closer reading of the rules, and maybe five minutes of play will be all the evidence necessary to realize that Pathagon is a unique game, aglow with brilliantly subtle strategic glimmers.

First, only orthogonal connections count. Pieces must actually touch edges in order for them to be considered contiguous.

Next, you can remove one of your opponent’s pieces by sandwiching it, again only orthogonally, between two of yours. (A removed piece isn’t captured, it is returned to the opponent for placement somewhere else on the board.) In fact, depending on how pieces are aligned, you can capture several of your opponent’s pieces in one move (as long as each piece is orthogonally sandwiched between two of yours).

And finally, once all the pieces are placed, if no one has won the game, players take turns moving their pieces until someone succeeds in creating the proverbial unbroken, edge-to-edge line.

A round of Pathagon can be as brief as 10 minutes and, depending on how long each player wants to consider strategic implications, as long as a half-hour. In either event, it is likely that players will want to complete several games before acknowledging defeat.

Anyone old enough to understand checkers will be able to appreciate what Pathagon has to offer. Though it is likely, given the elegance of the execution of the game, that Pathagon will long remain in the cherished possession of the mature gamer. Designed by Mark Fuchs, owner of Maranda Enterprises, is one six, beautifully rendered wooden games, all designed by Mr. Fuchs. More are on their way.

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