Triagonal

Triagonal will remind you a paper-and-pencil game you played when you were a kid. Maybe you called it “Dots and Boxes.” You’ll probably be at least somewhat enlighten-upped to discover that there are several fascinating variations like, for example, a game that combines Dots and Boxes with chess. All of which demonstrates that the strategic delight of our childhood memories has the capacity to delight us even whilst we revel in the throes of our grown-uphood.

But enough about Dots and Boxes. Because today we are talking about Triagonal, a new Dots and Boxes like game, only it’s about triangles, and it’s played on a molded plastic board with 120 plastic triangles (4 sets of 30, each of a different color), 84 Section Formers (little plastic rectangles that serve as the lines you would use to connect the dots, if there were dots to connect), and, oddly enough, two dice.

Players take turns (unless you’re playing the solitaire version), placing Section Formers and hoping to complete a triangle, and claim territory. You can, of course, play the game with no dice at all, much in the manner of how you’d play Dots and Boxes if you had a lovely board upon which to play. There are a couple Triagonal-specific rules which add to the complexity and challenge of the game: you get extra points if you complete a hexagon, and if you complete a large triangle (made of nine of your markers) you win the game right then and there.

But that, you see, is only the beginning. There are 4 more optional ways to play, plus two meta-options (e.g.: play several games, using any of the 5 options, the player with the highest overall score being the winner). And that’s just the options on the box. You can download an additional passel of options, for, of course, free (with registration).

Now these are not variations, but actually different ways to play, depending on your mood and on the people you’re playing with. Some people need a certain element of luck in order to have fun – so you play the options that use one or both of the dice. So you have an already interesting game, with the added interest of a collection of options that allow you to add or reduce the elements of luck and complexity. (For more about the social and psychological implications of being able to change elements of complexity, see this).

There are many game designers who include alternate rules and modifications, but these are usually presented as afterthoughts to the “real” game. Triagonal takes a different approach, giving each different way of playing its place as yet another aspect of the “real game.” This makes for a unique playing experience – one, given the alternate rules, that can be shared with anyone older than 4, and that can only be called “Major FUN.”

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