Catch 22

Catch 22 will remind you of Parcheesi, which, as everyone knows, is a derivative of the ancient Indian game Pachisi, which has only a little to do with why this game is so darn much fun. The Pachisi-likeness of it all has something to do with the fun – it makes the game feel familiar and that much easier to learn. But let me tell you right now, what we got here is as much like Pachisi as chess.

Yes, there’s a bunch of plastic pawns, but you get only one. And there’s a die – only one. And there’s a board with a track on it – only the track is much more complex. And then there’s this bunch of plastic blocks – 5 for each player. And a big bunch of little plastic poker chips. And that, equipment-wise, is basically it.

But the game itself is far more than a race. It’s a vendetta.

See, you roll a die and hope that eventually you land on a space with some chips on it. So you can get those chips. Which is cool. And then, once you get enough of them, you try to find the closest open path to one of the finish squares. So you can win. Except if anyone lands on you, that person gets your chips. Which means as soon as you have enough chips, suddenly you’re everybody’s meat, if you know what I mean. Oh, yes, people can also put their little plastic cubes in your way. And just when you’re getting close to the goal, and around all those blocks, there’s the possibility that someone will switch places with you and send you somewhere you really don’t want to be. And then someone else might pounce on you. And then you can join everyone else trying to steal that guy’s gold.

There’s a lot more strategy than chance. Way more strategy than you need to keep the game interesting. And just enough chance to keep the game fun. The sudden shifts in fortune make winning unpredictable, and can keep the game going for an hour or more, even though you spent maybe ten minutes figuring out how to play it.

Catch 22 is an ingenious race and chase game, most Major FUN Award-worthy.

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