hexagonal box edition
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In Pusher, the subject is marbles -- your marbles, in fact, which you have to push onto the top of a triangle of other marbles so that they roll to new spots on the board. The question for your marbles and your opponents' is: where will they roll? The answer to that depends on you, and your skill, instinctive feeling, and -- admittedly -- a spot of luck. But be careful -- Pusher is addictive... but legally so! And gloating doesn't come off too badly either.
Theta is a German company that makes big games with nice wooden components. Their price matches the quality, as each of their games will set you back about $50. Most of the games fall into the "dexterity" category, and they claim that you'll only unbox the game once since they look so good out of the box. They do look good, but if you display them it will probably be because the boxes do not fit well on normal sized bookshelves. Some of the games are excellent, while others look better than they play. For the uninitiated, here is a review of the Theta games:
[page 04201#001548]jump to Headquarter review
[page 07809#001549]jump to Saturn review
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Pusher uses a big hexagon-shaped board with triangles added to three sides as the starting points for up to three players. The board contains a series of indents in the three ball colors (red, white, and blue) and is quite colorful. Your goal is to get all of your 17 balls onto holes of a different color than themselves, and you do this by an odd mechanism of ``pairs and pushing''.
Whenever placing balls onto the surface creates a pair of balls, the next player must make a triangle by adding their next ball in the appropriate spot. Then, the next player must ``push'' the triangle by taking their ball, putting it in the center of the triangle, and pushing down to send the three flying around the board. If they land on their own color, they are removed. The player continues pushing as long as triangles are available (these can be created by the initial push.) You're trying to get all of your balls onto the board, meaning not in a hole of their color, but the pushing process is more random than controllable. You lose a turn if a ball flies out of the game space, which is a harsh penalty since it is very easy to do.
Pusher is another great-looking game that disappoints in play. I give Theta credit for trying to integrate a dexterity mechanic into a placement and seemingly strategic context, but the result is more chaos than strategy.
Editor's Note: Funagain Games has received the following clarification of the play of the game from designer Werner Falkhof:
I have never known before that I created a chaotic game. I think there is a big misunderstanding of the rules by Mr. Baldanza.
To push means that you have to put one ball on the top of the other three and then you can push them very softly or harder like you want to destroy the triangle. If you do it very soft you can push one ball in a direction you like, the other balls don't leave their molds. In this way you can block other positions and you can play it very strategic.
If you push a little bit harder two or three balls may change their position. But in most cases there is no reason too do so.
To push means that you have to touch the three balls of the triangle with your ball. To touch only one or two to drive one ball in the direction you want is not allowed.
Best regards from Germany,
[page 04520#001552]jump to Tribalance review
[page 07806#001553]jump to Fire review
[page 07807#001554]jump to Handicap review
Step by Step
[page 07808#001555]jump to Step by Step review
A Quick Summary
The eight games in the Theta collection share the common features of quality wooden components, big boxes, great aesthetics, focus on physics, and high prices. Here is a buyers guide for those interested. The number in parenthesis refers to the "dexterity/strategy" mix, with 1 meaning only dexterity and 10 meaning only strategy: