Quarto

Quarto will remind you of Tic Tac Toe, until you actually play it. Like Tic Tac Toe, you’re trying to get all your pieces in a row. And that’s about it, Tic Tac Toe-wise.

There are 16 pieces. Eight blond pieces and eight dark pieces. But if you look a little closer, you’ll notice that each piece is different. Nobody’s a “color.” Each has an attribute (size, color, shape, hollowness) that it shares with three other pieces. So your tall square blond solid piece is like the tall round dark piece that has a hole in it, because they are tall.

Your object is to add the piece that completes a row, column or diagonal of 4 pieces, all of which have the same attribute. Not necessarily all blond pieces or all short pieces, and certainly not all “your” pieces. Maybe all round pieces or all solid pieces. Or all pieces with a hole.

So things are not, as they say, merely black or white. To win, you have to continually change what attribute your looking for. Much more like life, strategically-speaking.

And then there’s one more intriguingly life-like rule you should know about: You decide what piece your opponent will play next. Really. That’s what you do. When your turn is over, you hand the piece of your choice to your opponent. And now that we’re speaking about strategy, suddenly everything becomes much more subtle, even more interesting. Because you’re trying everso hard to give your opponent the very piece she really wouldn’t want. A piece, in fact, that might very well be the one piece that will make you win.

It’s a unique concept in the world of strategy games – and uniquely welcome. Because you have to think even more closely about what your opponent might be thinking.

The designer, Blaise Müller, suggests a variation for those who need yet more strategic depth. How about counting 4-in-a-square as well as 4-in-a-row? Ah, how subtle. How challenging. Which makes you wonder about 4-in-an-L, or 4-in-a-zig-zag, even.

In other words, Quarto, like the majority of games in the Gigamic line, has just about all the elements that make a game Major FUN. It takes maybe 5 minutes to learn and maybe 5 minutes to play, and yet it’s deep enough to be worth playing over and over. It’s as easy to learn as it is because it’s based on something familiar. It’s as intriguing as it is, because it offers something unique. It’s elemental enough to be easily modified to increase or decrease the challenge. It’s made of wood. It’s durable. It even has a drawstring bag to house the pieces. And, for a modest mailing fee, Fundex will replace any lost piece.

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