Publisher: Frost & Frost
2-4 players 15 min. ages 6+ MSRP $28.95
Squaremino is a clever and strategic twist on the tile laying classic. The goal remains the same, however: be the first to play all of your tiles to win.
There are 64 square domino tiles in the game. Each one measure s1 1/8” on each side is 3/8” thick. They are made from a nicely weighted material which gives each tile just the right heft. It’s a pleasure just to hold and fiddle with your tiles as you’re setting up and playing.
The 64 tiles are divided into 4 colored suits: red, blue, yellow, and green. Each suit has 16 tiles numbered 1 through 4. So there are four of each number within a suit. Keep in mind, unlike a conventional domino, each tile only has a single number instead of two.
To play, you spread out all the tiles face down and each player draws 12 tiles as a starting hand. The tiles are thick enough to stand on their own, so it’s easy set your hand up in a line.
Like most domino games, you’ll need room for several lines of tiles as the game goes on, so make sure to leave plenty of room in the middle of the table to play. Push the unused dominoes to the side as a draw pile and you’re ready to go!
Each player will take turns playing 2,3 or 4 tiles to create a shared board – lines of tiles extending vertically and horizontally, crossword style.
There are two simple rules for playing tiles.
The set of tiles you play must be consecutive numbers in the same color
The set of tiles you play must be the same number but different colors.
So, a 1-2-3 in blue would be legal. So 4-4-4 provided that each 4 was a different color.
There are a few no-no’s in the game.
You can never play a single tile. And you can never play more than four tiles at once or extend a line of tiles past four.
The tiles played must be in a straight line. And the tiles played cannot create a square of tiles on the board.
If you cannot or do not want to play, you draw an extra tile from the face down pile and add it to your hand.
The first player to get rid of all his or her tiles wins the game.
Many times a Major Fun game will be a champion of innovation. It will offer up an experience that is totally new and very different from other games.
In the case of Squaremino, what makes it noteworthy is its decision to not stray too far from the comfort zone of the classic on which it is based.
There are certainly new strategies that are very different from the classic. This is not a game of matching numbers. You’re playing either a sequence or a set to build the board.
And the game does offer a bonus for completing a row of four tiles. Each time you do this you have the option to turn in a tile and draw a replacement. Setting yourself up for these bonuses and also keeping your opponents from them is key.
What makes Squaremino special and noteworthy, though, is that it resists the urge to reinvent the wheel. It would have been very easy to add several additional layers of complexity to the game, bonuses for longer runs or making certain shapes within the layout of the board. But I’m certain this would not make the game better.
Sometimes the key to fun is knowing when to stop. Knowing what not to ad,. Perhaps it’s like negative space in painting. The things that are not there help give art shape as much as the things that are.
The structure of the game is one any domino player will recognize. And though it borrows some of its inspiration from games like Qwirkle (another Major Fun winner), Squaremino feels familia and comfortable. Like a favorite sweater or perfectly broken in old pair of shoes.
Its so familiar, in fact, many may even think they have played before because it stays true to the soul of the classic. It celebrates its heritage but finds a way to stand on its own.
That’s a fine line and a fun line for any Major Fun game to walk.
Whether you’re learning for the first time or the pips on your set of double twelves have worn off, Squaremino is a game almost anyone will find hours of fun playing.