Palago is one of those games that has been of interest for some time.
Well, that is only partially correct. It is really a situation where I have become interested in games created by Cameron Browne. Our paths crossed on the excellent Board Game Geek website (www.boardgamegeek.com), and we actually corresponded there on occasion.
From there we became friends on Facebook, so the connection remains.
As an aside that is one of the amazing things about the electronic world we now life in, we can connect with people that in the past would have only been a name on a game box. That connection, at least for me, makes certain games a more personal experience. The opportunity to correspond with someone like John Yianni creator of the modern classic is akin to writing back-and-forth with the unknown creator of chess. It’s a rare honour.
While Palago isn’t maybe as ‘classic’ as Hive, when you are talking tile laying games, there aren’t many which come to mind as better.
Like the best tile laying games, Palago works with simple, easily understood rules.
The goal is likewise simple. Players strive to form closed groups of their colour.
A two-player game; blue and white share a common pool of 48 hexagonal arch tiles. Each tile contains a white arch and a blue arch, and may be placed in one of three ways so the corner colours are the same for each rotation.
White starts by placing two touching tiles. From there players take turns adding two tiles so the edge colours match neighbouring tiles.
The game is won by the player who forms a surrounded island of their colour containing at least one arch. If a move forms winning groups for both players, then the mover loses.
Published by Tantrix Games Ltd. who also produced Trax which has been reviewed here previously, the published version of Palago comes with a selection on solitaire puzzles where you are trying to create certain ‘creature designs’ outlined in the rulebook, by using a set number of tiles.
Rules also exist for playing Palago with three to five players, a system which adds the element of dice and point scoring. The unique dice are included.
The ability to take a game which was initially a two-player one, and expand it to multiplayer, or have the option to explore the concept solitaire is quite brilliant. Each facet of the game offers something unique, from brain burning solitaire puzzles, to the influence of dice with more than three players.
The pieces are bakelite, so they should last.
The game fits in a nice, small drawstring bag, so it’s easily taken with you.
Add up all the features, and you get a winner. Mr Browne has done an excellent job on Palago, and I for one look forward to more of his games making it into production with a fine game company such as Tantrix Games Ltd. who knows how to produce high quality games. Check them out at www.tantrix.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 9, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada