Friday, October 23, 2009

Review -- TRAX


You have to love a game which fits in a handy little pouch about six inches square, making it a perfect ‘take it where you go’ game.
That is Trax. The package isn’t much larger than the walkman-style CD players you saw people wearing a few years back before the world went higher tech with mp3 players.
Trax is a tile-laying game that I suppose has its roots in dominoes in the sense it has that sort of ‘feel’ although the pieces here are geometric shapes, not numbers.
Trax is a two player abstract strategy game of loops and lines which will be explained later.
Each piece is identical, so Trax is a perfect information game. You know exactly what piece your opponent has, because they all match.
There is a different design on each side of the pieces, with straights on one side and curves on the other. One straight and one curve is in red and the other in white.
Each player is assigned one of the colours in this two-player game.
Trax is a game which truly excels in terms of simplicity and convenience.
The tiles are bakelite so they have excellent durability, and are easily cleaned. So if you take the game to the coffee shop and they get sticky from the caramel bun, no problem.
The tiles are also the board in the case of Trax. The game can be played on any flat surface.
The rules of Trax are also very simple. On their turn a player places a tile, or at times multiple tiles, adjacent to those already in play so the colours of the tracks match. The objective is to get a loop or line of your colour while attempting to stop your opponent with their colour. Adding depth to the game is a forced play rule which allows, or may require, multiple tiles to be played in a turn
Trax is not a newcomer to the gaming world. In fact, it’s almost into the area where you would term it a classic, having been created in 1980 by David Smith.
The game is in some respects a forerunner of several games using similar tile-laying mechanics, including Tantrix and Palago which also come from Tantrix Games Ltd.
Trax is one of those games which is nearly a must have for anyone liking board games. The quality, portability and simplicity all rate extremely high marks.
That it is an abstract strategy game which makes you think is a bonus, but it doesn’t come across as being as involved strategically as say chess, which is good in the sense chess-like games scare many casual game players away.
Just an outstanding little game which begs to be enjoyed.
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Oct. 21, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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