I have been a huge fan of Pentago and have probably played fifty to
one hundred games over the last year. The simplicity combined with
real strategy of this abstract game kept me coming back for more.
When I read the rules to Quinamid (Third Dynasty Games, 2007 - Antony Brown), I was immediately reminded of Pentago - and much more in game
play. Both games require getting five pieces of your color in a row,
and both allow rotation of boards.
However, Quinamid has quickly become my favorite. With boards that
both slide and rotate, the strategy, while simple, is simply
marvelous. The basic game is interesting enough; but the advanced
game with variants make this a true masterpiece - and one that I would
stack up against any abstract game on the market. I've played
Quinamid almost fifty times since I've received it, and there is a
good chance it will become my favorite abstract game.
The game consists of five boards that are stacked on top of each
other from largest to smallest. Each board has a ring of squares on
its border, starting with the bottom - having twenty squares, to the
top with only four. When stacked on top of each other, the board
becomes a six by six grid of squares with twenty-four others covered
at any given moment. Each player takes a pile of discs of their color
(red and blue), and one player is chosen to go first; with play
alternating between them.
On a player's turn, they do one of three things:
- Place a token in any free space on the board.
- Rotate one of the top four boards ninety degrees in either direction.
- Slide one of the top four boards one space, but staying within the
confines of the board directly beneath it.
A player cannot rotate or slide the board that was just moved by an
opponent and must continue to rotate or slide a board once they start,
even if by doing so they put themselves in a worse position. Turn
passes to the next player. The first player to get five tokens in a
The "basic" game does not allow rotations, while the "advanced" game
does. There are also five variants that players may use.
- Players cannot place a piece in the top board on their first turn.
- Players can only place one piece in the top board the entire game.
- Players can't place a piece in the top board until they've placed
one in every other board.
- Players must get six in a row.
- Players can only rotate boards clockwise; but can rotate a board
just moved by the other player.
Comments on the game...
- Components: The five boards are quality wooden boards that slide
and rotate easily. All of them stack to fit into a nice wooden box
with sliding lid to form a very respectable looking game - one that
will look exceptionally good on a coffee table. The tokens are red
and blue discs that come in a small cloth drawstring bag and are quite
easy to distinguish from each other. Because of the nature of the
game, these discs need to be flat to allow the boards to slide over
them, but they can occasionally be a bit difficult to get out of their
slots once placed.
- Rules: The rules are on four pages, and these are mostly pictures
of the boards being shown on how to exactly rotate or slide them.
Teaching the game is a cinch, as the concept of five-in-a-row is
something most people have seen before; and it's easy to understand
the rotating and sliding mechanics. Some people might have a harder
time with the fact that the board is considered with a bird's eye view
and that adjacent pieces are adjacent even if one is four levels
higher than the other; but that's easily overcome.
- Strategy: In the basic game - and I use the word basic to mean
"without variants", as I can't understand why anyone would want to
play without rotating - the initial strategy is obvious - get the top
board filled! Since it can never be covered, it's important to have
at least two pieces up there, as they will constantly be threatening
your opponent. Interestingly enough, Quinamid is the first
five-in-a-row game that I've played that isn't won through diagonal
rows as much, and I think it's because of the sliding of the boards.
Once one player gets four in a row in the middle - a killer strategy
in other games, they put the other player on the defensive, who must
then move or rotate a board to stay in the game. This can lead to
more defensive play; and a player can struggle futilely until finally
losing. Players must realize that rotating and sliding are good,
because they can set the board up the way they want to; but they will
have one less piece on the board than their opponent. On the other
hand, sliding over pieces is quite fun, because one can reveal them
later to win the game or simply knock out a bunch of the opponent's
pieces temporarily from the game.
- Variants: If you'll notice, three of the variants deal with the
top board, and that's because it becomes such an obvious strategy for
players. The third variant, that of placing a counter in the bottom
four boards before the top board, is by far the best and the only one
I use when playing on a general basis. Getting six in a row is quite
difficult, actually changing the game to some degree, and rotating the
board only clockwise really has an odd effect on how players place
pieces. The variants are nicely thought through - should be required
for advanced players - but I can see why they weren't included in the
- Fun Factor: The fact that the game only takes five to ten minutes
to play is a real draw to me, and I love that my young seven year old
daughter can play fairly well - learning how to look ahead with
planning strategy. Rotating and moving the board to get that "aha!"
feeling when you manage to get five in a row is very satisfying, and
it's nice to have a game that completes the evolution of Connect Four
in a strategic and tactical way. Quinamid almost feels like a cross
between Pentago and Coverup - and I say that in a good way - it's a
game I'll be playing in ten years with as much enjoyment as I do now.
I highly recommend Quinamid; from the quality components to the simple
yet engaging rules, this is one of the best games of 2007 - and easily
one of my favorite two-player abstract games. When using the
variants, it can become rather deep, yet never so overwhelming as to
cause me to dislike it. A two-player game that I can enjoy with my
wife, children, or a friend who drops by, Quinamid will likely never
leave my collection - an exceptional game.
"Real men play board games"