Sashay is yet another of those beautifully crafted wooden games from the Masterpiece collection, available through Out of the Box games. It’s a chess-like strategy game, with a bit of Go, a hint of Stratego, and a touch of Battleship. In addition to the strategic intricacies of the game, there’s just enough opportunity for cunning and guile and sheer dumb luck to make the game as fun as it is deep.

There are two kinds of pieces. The “Dancers of Disguise” move vertically or horizontally, like the rook in chess. The “Masters of Masquerade” move like bishops, only they can change directions many times in one move, sashaying, as it were, across the board. They can also swap positions with an adjacent piece. Pieces are captured by being surrounded.

Each of the Dancers of Disguise has a hole in its side – just deep enough to accommodate a tiny wooden rod. At the beginning of the game, players set up a special board to prevent each other from seeing which Dancer is carrying the tiny rod. Pieces are set up in whatever manner players choose, and then, the Battleship-like dividing board is removed.

All you have to do to win is to get your Dancer to carry its rod to the other end of the board.

There are a couple of niggles one needs to be aware of. You have to remember to position your dancers so that the holes are facing away from your opponent. In the heat of the game, this may take more discipline than one is willing to exercise. And those tiny rods are so very easy to lose (luckily, the manufacturer includes spares – even more luckily, you can use a piece of aluminum foil or even a toothpick when you run out).

There is ample, and often quite delicious opportunity to get psychological on your opponent by advancing a rodless dancer or two, while keeping the rodded one shielded from play. On the other hand, the more shielded the Dancer, the easier it is to surround it and remove it from play.

All in all, the movement of the pieces is so interesting, the method of capture so subtle, and the opportunity for subterfuge so compelling that any niggle remains safely niggled for the duration.

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