The Jaded Gamer

Opinions, not always positive, on the gaming world.
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Breaking the code before breaking your brain.

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
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"She said the same thing about waffles."
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Retrospective 6: Code 777

Board Game: Code 777

I'm going to start this one by saying that my own little game design for a development of this system (and using a few elements from Hanabi) is still ongoing and delayed only by the fact that I am a mathematics moron.

From that you can probably work out already that my conclusion here is that Code 777 is a game that comes very close to being one I really, really like.

The problem I have with it is really only that it is almost TOO frustrating a puzzle at times. There is a lot of inflexibility in how it will play out and if you're desperately trying to find something specific out that will make the pieces all fall into place, the fact that you get absolutely no choices about what you can find out is infuriating at times.

To a certain extent there's nobody to blame for plays like this other than myself. As I have said, my logic and mathematics centres are a little deficient (bloody artists*) and I'm sure a lot of other players are in these binds a lot less often as a result.

Board Game: Code 777

Image is by user "evilone"

Nevertheless and with all these caveats in mind I think there's a bunch of good reasons to keep this game, or to try it out if you haven't already.

1. Abstract problem solving is actually something that can get those who wouldn't play regular, themed multiplayer games playing.

A couple of my family members who would never go near a themed game like Jamaica or Pandemic would still be interested in this - after all, millions of people play Sudoku and all the other word and number puzzles every day, lots of them competitively in newspaper competitions, so there's a niche being filled here. (cf. Ingenious)

2. The components work really well, with one caveat.

The tracking sheets are, for obvious reasons, printed in black and white and this is a little bit of an issue in terms of usability and introduces one point where unintentional errors can creep in - this isn't too big an issue because of the symbols used for colourblindness, but the question cards make no concessions towards colourblindness - surely you could have said "green circles" as easily as "greens"? In everything else Stronghold is their usual exemplary self - there's something so satisfying in working with tiles instead of cards (I WISH they'd do an edition of Tichu on Mahjong tiles) and the stands work great, with all the card stock being good too.

One thing I would like included in the game (this isn't really a criticism more than preference) is more copies of the list of questions. The box does include a single set of cards showing all the questions (and more importantly their reference numbers) that can be asked. Presumably this is to help you use the right hand side of the sheet with the spaces for answers... but passing those around to everyone every time they're running through their inferences from the answers given is such a pain that you tend not to bother doing this.

I'd rather have a single A5 sheet of paper each (and actually, keep meaning to make one) with all the questions on in lots of languages rather than a few cards. Perhaps others find this less annoying, but I really can't face how much longer the game would be if I was double checking my work every time I was making a guess rather than between turns.

3. It is, when you get locked into the mindset, pretty fun.

If you're the sort of person who enjoys those logic puzzle books (or did) then you know the most satisfying thing is wringing every drop of information out of a single revelation as you can. This game lets you do that in pretty much any way you can work out (before you ask, my ways all suck).

You do need to bear in mind that the primary feeling while playing this is infuriated frustration and the almost physical NEED to see what those bloody tiles are saying. It's a very different feeling to playing less abstract deduction games, but it's not bad for that.

It's mainly in the collection though because it's on of the rare games my wife will ask to play, as opposed to agreeing to playing. She's a huge fan of logic puzzles and deduction games - and this genre also appeals to her family more than, say, Ticket To Ride does. I am horrible at it, and as a result it may run a bit longer than I want it to, but if she's having fun then so am I.

Give a try and maybe let me know what you think.

*Bloody sweeping statements!
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