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Sigil

Andreas Voellmer's Sigil is two-player strategy game where players are jockeying for position by placing out 'stones' on a board. To win, you only need to have three more stones on the board than your opponent, so victory always looks tantalisingly close...


Players each start off with a stone on the 'node' of their colour. On your turn you must take a 'move' action, which means placing a stone adjacent to another of your colour already on the board. Initially, you can expect to be placing stones onto empty spaces but, subject to the adjacency rules, you can play a stone to space occupied by your opponent. This displaces their stone to an adjacent space or the nearest empty space unless you have their position surrounded, in which case their stone is 'crushed' (ie: removed from the board). In practice, most games will be won and lost by 'crushing' your opponent's stones.



In addition to your 'move', you can take a 'dash' action. This gives you an additional move (stone placement) but at a cost of removing two of your stones from anywhere on the board. Dash then leaves you a stone down, so you're only likely to make use of this action when it gives you a very significant tactical advantage. From our Board's Eye View plays this was almost invariably placements that 'crushed' a stone and set the player up for a second 'crush'.


In addition to these actions, you can cast a spell. When you set the game up, you populate the board with spells tiles that take five, three and one stone. Sigil comes with more tiles than there are places for them on the board, so you can vary set up and game play. In order to cast a spell, you must fully occupy the spell (so have all five spaces filled with your stones for a 'major' spell) and it costs you all those stones to cast the spell. Obviously, you won't want to cast spells unless the net result leaves you a stone up and/or in a tactically better position. For each node you control tho' you get a discount of one stone - so if you still hold your starting node, casting a five-stone spell will lose you only four of your stones on that spell, and that discount increases if you've captured your opponent's home node or the third note that's empty at the start of the game; it's why that third node is going to be hotly contested...



The spells may also give players special placement rules. Where they specify a 'soft' move, you can only place a stone on an empty space. Where a 'hard' move is specified, you must place your stone so that it dislodges one of your opponent's stones. A 'blink' move allows you to ignore the adjacency rules for that placement.


When you cast a three- or five-stone spell, you mark it with your 'lock' die. This is a six-sided die that's not rolled; it's used as a counter: you set it at 1 for your first spell, 2 for your second, etc. The lock die signals that you cannot repeat that spell until you've cast another. It also acts as a game timer: the game ends when either player reaches 6 on their lock die. When the game ends in this way instead of on the 'three stone advantage', you win simply by having a single stone advantage. Watch out tho' - if you bring the game to an end in this way and end your turn tied on the same number of stones as your opponent, it's your opponent who takes the victory.


Tho' it has varied spells with specific effects, Sigil is first and foremost an abstract strategy game rather than a contest between wielders of magic. It's all about positioning to gain that small tactical advantage needed for victory. Tho' players will want to check that each of them understand the spell effects available in their game, the rules are quick to pick up and largely intuitive. When you start playing it can be hard to bring yourself to make the sacrifice required to take Dash actions but, as in Chess, you will discover that there are circumstances where that sacrifice can pay off. It's a fascinating game, and it has the added merit of playing quickly: most of our Board's Eye View plays have taken around 20 minutes.


Shown here on Board's Eye View is Pine Island Games' preview prototype of Sigil. The game is currently on Kickstarter and it's already funded. Click here to check it out now.


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