Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review -- VERSUS


Well regular readers will know I have a huge soft spot for abstract strategy games so I was immediately interested in Versus designed by Michel Pinon, and released in 2008 by Asyncron Games.
The game is rated for those eight and up, is for two players, with a suggested playing time of 20-to-30 minutes. The playing time of course will vary with the skill of the players and the time they take to formulate moves, but at about half-an-hour it’s a game that promises some thinking without eating away hours.
Regular readers will also know I am partial to wooden games. The look and feel of wood means quality in my mind.
So, when I had the opportunity to pop the box on Versus, I was immediately impressed. To begin with the box is a sturdy one, which bodes well for keeping everything pristine over the long haul.
And, you will want to keep this game in nice shape, because everything inside the box screams quality. The board play area is made up of hexagons, which are painted onto a thick, round, wooden board.
The pieces too are wood, one player’s stained darker than the others. There’s even a small leather drawstring pouch to hold the pieces. It all comes across as very classy. I like that in a game.
Now one problem, and I suspect that will be rectified as the game breaks into North America in a more significant way, but there are no English rules in the game box. Today though that is less of a problem since the Internet is such an amazing resource. You can find the English version at www.versus-le-jeu.net. They are in a handy .pdf format which prints easily.
The game revolves around trying to get your pieces to a specific spot on the board.
There two distinct type of pieces, pawns and Versus pieces. The Versus pieces when moved actually attract pawns on the board, altering their position if they fall within the rules of movement.
Pawns are interesting too in that they can be flipped, and in so doing they come under the influence of the other player.
The ability to influence board position, and to switch pawns, are two highly interesting strategic mechanics of the game.
The game is different enough from other strategic games out there, with different enough mechanics, that is should provide fresh challenges for diehard strategic gamers.
That said, Versus is not really a game for casual gamers. You must like the genre of the game in this case.
If you are a strategic gamer, then the ruleset and game quality make Versus a hard one to pass up.

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 20, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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