Thursday, December 11, 2008



Razzle Dazzle might sound a game for small children, and that may be the biggest problem with this game, a name which actually creates the wrong image in players' minds when they hear about it.
Fortunately, the game has been recently renamed Knight Moves, a much better name.
What Knight Moves is actually a game that has some very familiar mechanics, a great concept, look, and a quick game style which all come together to create a very enjoyable gaming experience.
So let's get into the nitty gritty of this little gem. The game was created in 2005 by Don Green, who honestly came up with a concept that will have a lot of gamers going 'gee why didn't I think of that'.
The basic premise of this game is so simple it's really sort of elegant. The game is played on a 7 X 7 grid, with each player having four pieces, each of which makes only one type of move, that of the knight in chess, three squares in the shape of an 'L'.
While the pieces share the move with chess, this game is really more akin to basketball. The pieces have a small hole on the top which holds a small metal ball. Each player has one ball. The goal is to move your pieces, passing the ball when possible, in order to get the ball to the far row to win the game.
The ball can be passed in a straight line along the same paths a chess Queen would move, so in one of eight directions. It cannot pass over an opponents piece, but can be passed multiple times among a player's own pieces.
That's pretty much the basic rules covered. However, the game is best played with what are called 'tournament rules'. The advanced rules demand a player pass the ball, if possible, after the opponent moves one of their pieces adjacent to the ball carrier. This rules creates a lot more opportunity to play a little defence, forcing the opponent to move the ball often in different directions than he was maneuvering to achieve.
The same rules have the piece passing the ball flipping over, and needing to move at least once before it can receive the ball back.
This creates a bit more strategy too.
However, even with the advanced rules this is a quick little game, which is what you would expect from a game mimicking basketball. Since the game is fast, it's usually best to play a series of games, like a best-of-seven, to determine the overall winner.
Adding to the charm of this one is that the board and pieces are wood, so it is well-made and looks good on display.
Now just for a little diversity, Knight Moves does remind of the game Tobac, a game published by Milton Bradley some years ago. The game is played with four pieces a side, and again utilizes the mechanism of passing a marble, with the goal of getting it across the board. In Tobac though pieces must be adjacent to each other to pass the ball, more of a hand-off than a real pass. The pieces are also more restricted in their movement, going only one spaces along diagonal lines. As a result the game is slower than Knight Moves, and lacks the dynamics of the newer game. Still Tobac is an interesting little game if you find it at a yard sale.
Knight Moves on the other hand is a game to seek out. It's a real little winner.

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper May 14, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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