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Subject: Indigo: Easy on the Eyes, Fun for Kids and Adults rss

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Joe Gola
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In recent years Reiner Knizia has a settled on a recipe for the perfect family board game: a moderate playing time of about 30–45 minutes, simple and easy-to-remember rules, lots of interaction between players, and a design that accommodates two, three or four players equally well. An early and successful example of this philosophy was the hit Ingenious (2004), and this was followed by such titles as Genesis (2006), Keltis (2008), Callisto (2009), Fits (2009), Genial Spezial (2009), Jäger und Sammler (2010), Keltis: Das Orakel (2010), and most recently Spectaculum and Qin (2012). Indigo is yet another realization of this idea, and a very well-made one at that.

Like many great Knizia designs, the rules to Indigo are remarkably simple. The board is a rough hexagon shape made up of smaller hexagons, and in the center is a tile with six paths radiating outwards. This central tile holds six gems—five green and one blue. There are additionally tiles on each corner with one path pointing towards the center, and these hold one yellow gem each. Meanwhile, the edges of the board are "goals" which are owned or shared by the players, and the object of the game is to bring the gems to one's own goals by playing tiles onto the board. Each tile will have a crisscross of paths on it, and when a new path is connected to an existing path that holds a gem, that gem will move along that new path until it reaches another empty space or a goal.

So, in essence, players are trying to build connections from the gem-holding tiles to their own goals.

Scoring is also very simple: yellow gems are worth one point, green gems are worth two points, and blue gems are worth three. The valuable blue gem will be the last one to be removed from the center hexagon—i.e., the green gems will exit on the first five paths to connect to the center, and the blue will follow the sixth.


photo by Toynan


When playing the two-player game, each player will own three sides of the board. In the three-player game, each player will have one side to himself and share two more, one with each of his opponents. In the four player game all sides are shared—each player shares one side with each of his opponents. When a gem is moved to a shared goal, one player takes the just-moved gem and the other takes a duplicate gem from an off-board supply kept for just this purpose.

Players can place tiles on any empty space on the board on their turn. The standard rules will have each player holding only one tile at at time, but there is also a more strategic variation of the game in which players have a hand of three tiles to choose from. There are a couple more minor details, but otherwise those are the rules of the game.



The gameplay itself has a feel to it that is somehow both breezy and thinky. Players' turns are extremely simple—they only need to place a tile on the board—but the placement of that tile can lead to some tricky questions. Do you work towards helping yourself or hurting your opponents? How aggressive should you be? Do you set up your neighbor to bring a gem to a shared goal, or try to hog it for yourself? Do you go for easy, low-value yellow gems, or do you gamble for more points?

The game also has a good sense of drama built into it. The board starts out open and and full of possibilities, but as the game progresses the situation will crystallize until the final tile placements are do-or-die nail-biters. It is also a game in which the players get to interact with each other a great deal; players can swerve gems away from each other, close off promising paths, or, in the three- and four-player games, cooperate to steer a gem to a shared goal. Kids will enjoy seeing how the maze of possibilities plays out, while crafty adults will perhaps enjoy doing mean and spiteful things to each other.


four-player game in progress at the Sandy Hook Beer and Gaming Academy


Overall I really like the game and feel that is an excellent choice for families, for gamers who want something simple and relaxing to play at the end of a night, or a "gateway" game that gamers can use to lure non-gamers to the table. The Ravensburger production is attractive as well; the board and pieces are colorful and the tiles are nice and chunky. However, the game may be a little too light for hardcore gamers who want a more thinky or involved challenge.

The game plays well with two, three and four players, but my personal favorite is three, because the "alliance" aspect is added and yet the players still have a good amount of individual control over the situation. The board can change pretty drastically between a player's turns in the four-player game, and so the outcome feels a little more luck-dependent.

One question that the more experienced gamers will be asking is how the game compares to similar "path-laying" games like Tsuro and Metro. Personally, I think Indigo is superior to the other two; it's simply more interesting than Tsuro, and players have more freedom to play where they want than in Metro. It's pretty rare that a player will feel like all his options are bad, as sometimes happens in the latter game. The only advantage to the other two games is that they accommodate a larger number of players.
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Nate Downs
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I haven't played Tsuro, but I have played Metro and Cable Car, along with several lesser known path games. I just have to say that this is the best, imo (with Cable Car and easy #2). I haven't played Tsuro, but I don't see myself doing that now, honestly. I don't need to go anywhere else besides here and Cable Car for pathy goodness.

And I love these things, I collect books on labyrinths, I love mazes... this is a great combination of two hobbies, in a way.

In my own personal comment on the game I think I mention that I don't care much for abstracts, but if they were all so easy to learn and beautiful (as well as thoughtful) then I might jump on board.

No offense to your photos, but somehow I just don't see a camera catching the wonder of the colors or of a completed game...

Great review!
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Sam Cook
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Nice review! I finally got to play last night with two non-gamer friends. They really enjoyed it, and I thought it was pretty interesting trying to manage the unpredictability of the board.

And the game board does look awesome as the hexes get filled in. Short game with some nice chrome - I think I'm going to be bringing this out a lot more.
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