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The 60 playing pieces have three different color combinations (one color on each side):
- blue - red
- blue - yellow
- yellow - red
Each player tries to get 5 pieces of the same color in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally on his side. The opponent tries to prevent this through clever, strategic moves, and at the same time tries to build his own five in a row.
The attraction of the game lies in the fact that each player only knows the back color of the pieces they played. With pieces played by the opponent there are always two possibilities, so you can only draw indirect conclusions from the play of the game.
- 1 plastic game board
- playing pieces:
- 20 blue - yellow
- 20 blue - red
- 20 red - yellow
My favorite game by Theta is the two-player game `Headquarter'. In this game, a silhouette of a head separates two players, and in turn they draw blocks with two colors to place in the head. Each player tries to get a large connected area of common color on their side while disrupting the other player's ability to do so, since the wooden block can be placed to have one color appear on one side, and the other color on the opposite side. IQ-5 has taken this concept and evolved it into a five-in-line game with very good results. What at first appears to be yet another uninspiring abstract game in fact turns out to be a game with strategic interest and fast play.
The `board' is a 10 by 10 grid of holes that is placed vertically between the two players, separating them. Each player gets a set of three types of pegs. One is colored blue on one side and red on the other, another set is colored blue and yellow, and the third is red and yellow. Alternating turns, players place a peg into the grid, thus giving themselves one of the colors and positioning the other color onto their opponent's side. Since the three types of pegs are known, some simple logic can help determine the likelihood of your opponent's side with some accuracy. If a yellow appears on my side, for example, I know that he must have placed a red or blue on his side. The first player to get five holes in a row filled with the same color wins.
During play, interesting sub-battles emerge on areas of the board. Trying to mix up the other player by placing the pegs suggesting one strength but building toward a different one can be quite helpful. Each play must be thought of as an offensive and defensive move, though of course some plays will be clearly one or the other. Taking advantage of the logic requires a good memory, and sometimes this can be overcome simply by giving your opponent the same color they just gave you. It's possible to win on your opponent's turn, if they have misread the situation enough to actually provide your fifth needed fill-in.
IQ-5 is among the better five-in-line type games. The level of thought required in the play and the critical nature of each move make the game quite enjoyable. The production quality of IQ-5 is outstanding. The grid and its base are made of thick, solid plastic, the pegs are well formed and they fit into the grid holes perfectly. Varioplay also sells the game in a wooden version which is also quite handsome, but the plastic game is what most people will prefer to use. Varioplay also makes a complete line of wooden two-player abstracts, and based on the strength of IQ-5 I am looking forward to trying more of their output.