Thursday, March 12, 2009

Review -- INPUT


Sometimes you can get real lucky games wise by visiting a thrift store. On one such excursion the game Input sat on the shelf. It was a game unknown before that chance encounter, but for a buck, how could one not take a chance.Well the dollar proved to be a very good investment in this case.Input was released in 1984 by Milton Bradley, a company well-known in the board game world. The creator of the game is uncredited, and that's too bad, because this game is rather ingenious, and someone should be able to take a bow for coming up with the idea.Input is a game that is designed to look like a computer game, yet of course it is a board game. In that respect they do a nice job, albeit in that sort of '80's style'. The game board is molded plastic, of descent weight, so it will last. The board is made to mimic 'the look' of a computer, well a computer that you might see on the original Star Trek TV show at least.The game mechanics is basically tile placement, with each player – it is a two-player only game -- having an identical set of pieces. The pieces are 'pre-programmed' with the move pattern the piece can make one put into play.Again the idea is to give a computer feel where each piece moves across the grid in an irregular, yet set pattern.The goal is to plan out when to introduce your pieces, in lieu of a move, and then to move the pieces in play. Each piece can move a number of times in its set circuit before playing off the board, at which time a player can re-introduce it.Along the course of moves you want to land on a space already occupied by your opponent's piece, thereby removing it from the game.This is a straight abstract strategy game, which in some respects is more limited than say chess, because each piece has finite movement, in a pre-designed pattern that has it circuiting onto, around, and back off the board.At the same time there is a freshness to the game because the piece movement is totally unique to the game of Input.The pieces are plastic, with the movement pattern a stick on decal, that on the thrift store buy, was curling on a couple of the pieces. And, sadly one was missing, which meant fashioning a piece to play. That wasn't a huge problem, although the game mechanic does have a player moving a piece from his home area to a staging area, where up to three pieces are stacked waiting to be played. You do not know what pieces a player has in the stack, adding a touch of mystery to the game. The homemade piece is a giveaway in the stack.Still, the game is complicated enough that one would need to play a lot before that little bit of information would make a huge game difference.This isn't among the true elite of abstract strategy games, but the neat mechanics make it one worth exploring. If you ever see a copy it's certainly recommended as a game to grab. Lots of depth to explore, yet with rules quickly learned, and understood.A game to pull out for some fun with any willing opponent.

Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper March 11, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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