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Just beyond the horizon Aapep lies coiled in wait, greedily charting Ra's progress across the heavens. At dusk, as the setting sun brushes the western mountains, he prepares to strike...
In Aapep you play either demon Aapep, trying to swallow the sun, or the god Ra, fighting to escape the underworld.
Players try to place Pyramid Tiles so that from any one edge of the board, there are either four light Tile sides visible (Ra escapes and wins) or four dark Tile sides visible (Aapep swallows the sun and wins).
I'm sure that some people will find the theme of Aapep and Ra in eternal combat as interesting - the battle between light and darkness really is a good thought for a strategy game. Aapep (Cambridge Games, 2007 - Paul A. DeStefano) is an abstract strategy game in which two players feud off on a sixteen square grid, attempting to shine light (or darkness) in one direction.
"Wait!", you may cry, "I thought this game is for two to four players!" This is true, but the game really only works well with two players, and even then I'm starting to have my doubts about the fun factor of the game. Aapep takes place in two distinct stages - the first in which players fill up a grid board; and the second in which they rearrange the pieces, attempting to win. Aapep is the sort of game in which the first player who makes a mistake loses, which may be okay for some folks; but that's not really my style.
Aapep takes place on a four by four board, next to which are placed eleven tiles - which are a combination of yellow (sunlight) and black (darkness). The player playing Yellow Ra (light) goes first, and the play alternates for the rest of the game. Each game has two phases, the Daytime phase and the Nighttime phase.
During the Daytime phase, players simply place one of the tiles in any open space on the board. They then take one of two shadow chips, moving it to an empty space of their choice, preventing tiles from being placed there. This continues until one player wins, or until all event tiles are on the board; at which point, the game goes into Nighttime phase.
During the Nighttime phase, players first must move a tile on the board to any open space, rotating it in any direction. The player then places a marker of their color on the tile, preventing any other player from moving that tile until the player's next turn. After this, the player moves one of the two shadow chips to the spot from which the moving tile originated.
This continues until at the end of any player's turn - there are four light tiles visible from any of the four board's edges, in which case Ra wins. If the same thing happens with dark tiles, then Aapep wins. Shadow chips do not block visibility.
The game can be played with three or four players - with the third player becoming White Ra and the fourth player Red Aapep. Game play is the same, except that the winner is determined by which side of the board the four light/darkness tiles come from. For example, Yellow Ra wins if the light tiles line up at the top or the bottom of the board, while White RA wins if the light tiles shine from either side of the board.
Some comments on the game...
Look, the theme is okay; I can live with the lower component quality, but there is nothing that I find just fun or exciting about the game. Aapep isn't like any other abstract strategy game - I appreciate the novelty and thought put into the game; it's the completed package that fails to stimulate me. Perhaps some will find it exciting - I found it more mediocre - and with the growing number of quality, fascinating abstract games in existence; that means it will see very rare play.
"Real men play board games"