Saturday, October 17, 2009

Review -- Warp 6


Warp 6 is an interesting little game coming to the public from the small games publisher Pair-of-Dice. I say interesting because of how the game is put together in terms of mechanics, and how the game actually plays.
Starting with the components of this 2002 release, it is one where the elements are really simplicity at work.
The playing surface is a screen printed cloth which looks like a large men’s handkerchief, or small table cloth. It’s simple, but works well. I do wonder how well it might wash should the cloth get dirty. If it washes well that would be a huge plus especially since the game really does transport well for taking camping, to the park, or coffee shop. The cloth is at least black, with the play area screened in white.
As you can imagine the ‘board’ folds into a rather small package for storage, or transport.
The game pieces are equally simple, a handful of dice. In a two-player game each combatant gets nine dice, four four-sided, three six-sided and two eight-sided dice. When three players hook up in Warp 6, each player gets six dice, one less of each type.
That’s it as far as game components.
From there, game designers Brian Tivol, Greg Lam, and Luke Weisman developed a rather simple, yet potentially deep game.
Each player initially roll their handful of dice, with the person with the highest number going first. That person places any one of their dice on the first node of the spiral designed game board course. The second player goes next, and so on until all the dice are played.
The number on the dice indicated how many spots it can move on a turn as it progresses around the spiral course.
In the two-player game the goal is to get six dice to the centre of the board, three players only need to race four to the centre.
Like most race games, there is more to it than simply moving the dice.
When you move a dice, and it lands on another dice, the moving dice gets to ‘warp’ down to the next ring of the spiral course. If it lands on another dice at that point, it warps again, allowing for a chain of ‘warps’ which of course gives the game its name. By warping, you speed your movement to the centre.
Adding an element of luck to the mix, a dice that does warp is re-rolled, giving it a new number.
Instead of making a move, a player can adjust the number of a single dice up, or down one number.
The rules fit on two sides of an 8X11 page, and include some visual examples, which speaks to the simplicity of the game too.
Warp 6 is still very much an abstract strategy game even with the ability to change a dice number, because players see all the pieces, so they have perfect information. It’s a nice use of the dice rolling mechanics without it really influencing the game with dumb luck. If that dice roll really bothers you, it could be house-ruled out of the game easily too.
The strategy of Warp 6 comes in with attempting to set up chains of ‘warps’ for your pieces, or making moves to break chains before an opponent can make the jumps.
The small element of luck which is added by the roll of a warping dice is really a nice little twist to things.
This is a great little game which shines based on simplicity, portability, and that is plays two and three players equally well. You just can’t go wrong with this little gem.
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Oct.7, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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