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I've just tried Cubulus at the UK Games Expo.
Summary review: We liked it. I'll be buying this one.
Less summary review:
Learning: Like many good abstracts, extremely simple to learn. (There was nobody on hand to demo at the time, just the set lying on a table. It took less than two minutes for us to read and understand the rules.)
Rules: Played on a 3x3x3 cube, with red/white/black spheres (9 each) as playing pieces. (In a 2-player game, the third player's pieces are pre-placed in the board as neutrals.) Moves consist initially of pushing a piece into the board from one edge (shoving along any pieces in the way). You can't place into an already-full row (i.e. pieces in play can't be pushed out of the board.) Instead you can rotate the order of the pieces in that row (by pushing one piece out of the end and back in at the start of the row.) That's it.
The winner is the first person to form a square from four of their pieces on one side of the board.
The rulebook is a simple folding sheet with clear diagrams - more than adequate for such a simple ruleset.
Analysis: We tried a 2-player game, but immediately wanted to give 3-player a go as well. Cubulus is clearly one of those rare 2-player abstracts that works equally well with 3.
Like many line-up/form-a-square abstract games, some early wins will come because your opponent missed an obvious win on your part due to looking in the wrong place. (Remember to look all around the cube and think about the patterns!) Once past the beginner-mistakes stage, however, there's plenty of genuine tactics here.
Conclusion: Simple, fast, tactically interesting. A great filler/pub/incidental abstract game.
(Notes for game theorists: The mathematician in me wants to start analysing this game at once. First-player advantage seems probable though didn't seem large at first glance; in a two player game I'd really like to know what's a good arrangement of neutrals to minimise it. The game tree is larger than it first appeared.)
Thank you for a nice little review. How would you compare this one to the depth of the other Gigamic games?