Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review -- AXIOM


Games are always interesting when they offer challenges you don’t usually have to deal with.
It’s a case where as much as I love chess, and its vast array of variants, they are generally played on a board that varies only in size. The result is a ‘sameness’ to game play.
There are however games which change things up for players, and Axiom is one of those.
Axiom was invented by Michael Seal and first released back in 1988. For a game which has been around for two decades and is as interesting as this one, it should be far more widely known.
Of course that is sort of the curse of being a game from a small indie publisher such as Abstract Planet. It is hard for small companies to do the promotion and distribution to create ‘the buzz’ to really stimulate interest. As a result even among avid gamers such as those on the Board Game Geek site (www.boardgamegeek.com) there are only about 150 members who have clicked that they own this game. That does surprise me in a sense because I do see Axiom as what might be termed ‘a gamer’s game’.
A gamer’s game is one of those which looks good, has a unique feature, or two, and has quality components. Axiom hits on all three.
So let’s start with the rather unique feature. Axiom is a two-player abstract strategy game which plays in three dimensions. The play area starts out as a square of twelve cubes. Each player has two pawns (called Sceptres) which set on the top of the cubes as the game begins.
The pawns then move across the faces of the cubes, with the object of moving your sceptre onto any cube occupied on another side by the opponent’s sceptre. Such a move wins the game.
As you might envision the sceptres end up on the sides of the cubes. In early versions they sort of clicked into position from what I’ve read, and didn’t always come out of the recessed hole on the cube easily. That system has been replaced by a system of magnets and works very slick now.
Having to get your mind off a flat board and into the mode of envisioning moves around a stack of 3D cubes is the interesting challenge. It is something you do not generally have to think about when playing boardgames, and is thus rather refreshing.
The pieces are plastic, and should last, which is great.
And the game looks fantastic. While there are other colour options, the black and white version is simply dramatic looking. It is classy and eye-catching.
The game is small and compact too. The box is nothing special. The game sort of begs for a nice wooden box, although that would add too much to the cost. Still, one day I might have to have one made. Yes this game is that interesting. I find its classic look, and game play a rather special combination which would put this game easily in the top-50 abstracts out there.Check it out at www.axiomgame.com

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 27, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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