'Outwit Outflank Outlast' may sound like the refrain sung by General George Washington in Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton but it's actually the tag line for General Shenanigans' Tactigon. It's a new chess-like two-player abstract strategy game. Tactigon is played on a board divided into hexagons and players have four types of pieces, identified by the two-dimensional shape on the top. Each player has six Circles, three Triangles, three Squares and a single Pentagon.
The pieces in Tactigon can move the number of hexes equal to the number of sides of their shape; so a Circle can move just one hex, a Triangle can move up to three hexes, a Square can move up to four hexes and the Pentagon can move up to five hexes. Pieces don't have to move in a straight line but, in the basic game, they cannot jump over either your own or your opponent's pieces.
There's a hierarchy over capture. Tho' they are the weakest piece for the purposes of movement, Circles are the most powerful when it comes to capture: they can take any opposing piece. Triangles can take an opposing Triangle, Square or Pentagon but taking a Circle will also eliminate the Triangle that makes the attack. Squares can capture other Squares and Pentagons but they cannot capture Circles and they are eliminated when capturing a Triangle. Finally, Pentagons cannot capture any piece other than the opponent's Pentagon.
The objective of the game is to capture your opponent's Pentagon, and in our plays at Board's Eye View we found that that was how the large majority of games ended. There is, however, an alternative win condition of having pieces on both the yellow hexes in the central area of the board at the end of your opponent's turn. This win condition can lead to feints where a player forces an opponent to attack those positions in order to prevent this victory but, in doing so, leaves their Pentagon vulnerable to capture.
We've greatly enjoyed our plays of this easy-to-learn strategy game. It plays quickly: the board is tight and captures often involve sacrificing a piece as you manoeuvre for position. Our plays took only around 10 minutes, which meant we often found ourselves playing a succession of immediate rematches. We've appreciated too the inclusion of optional 'advanced' rules to shake up play. The first of these adds to Squares the ability to jump over your own and your opponent's pieces (counting the hexes you jump as part of your move). The limitations is that you cannot jump over an opponent's Square. Incorporating this rule noticeably opens up play.
The second optional rule is to give an extra hex of movement to any piece that starts its move on one of the yellow hexes. The effect of this is to make the yellow hexes much more of a battleground. Getting a Circle onto a yellow hex can put you in a position where you are threatening a key corridor of the board. With other Circles and Triangles thinned out from earlier exchanges, you can find your Circle almost impregnable, and on track to meet the yellow hex win condition. In the end game, where few pieces remain on the board, getting your Pentagon onto a yellow hex can win you the game as it will give the Pentagon a range of six on their next turn, which will threaten your opponent's Pentagon wherever they are on the board unless the path to them is blocked by other pieces.
Tactigon is a great new abstract strategy game. We've found it remarkably addictive. The version we've been playing at Board's Eye View is a preview prototype - and that's what we're showing off here in our BEV 360 - but the game is coming to Kickstarter on 18 April. We'll add a link to the campaign when it goes live.