Review: Repello

Now that we're living off of one income, we've been trying to be good with our spending. Having someone who can start dinner before work ends (if it ever does) has helped us cut back on eating out. I've even managed to cut way back on my Kickstarter problem.

I'm still not above the occasional impulse purchase, however. We found a neat game on deep discount at Barnes and Nobel the other day, and couldn't resist. It's called Repello. The subtitle (if that's the right word for it with a game) is "A Game of Great Consequence." I think that really captures the game play. This is a game that really encourages you to think through the results of your moves, which is a skill we could all benefit from honing.

There are a variety of features to the game play that make it pretty unusual. The first is the game pieces. These are plastic spindles that cary plastic disks on them (see the gallery below). There's an ingenious protrusion near the base of the spindle that captures the second to bottom disk, holding all of them on except for the one at the bottom. When you move your piece, you leave the bottom ring behind. Once you put the spindle in it's final location, a little pressure on the stack then forces the next ring down so that it'll be the next to be left behind.

The second unusual feature is how you determine the number of moves. There are no dice. Instead, every square on the board has a number in it. You can move in any direction, like a chess queen, but you must move exactly the number of spaces as the number on the first square you move across. This makes the game entirely deterministic and potentially solvable, but boy would that be complicated. I haven't even gotten to the complicated part yet.

The entire goal is to capture as many disks as you can, which you do by driving them off the board. This includes the disks left behind by you or other players, other player's spindles, and special silver and gold disks that are placed on the board at the beginning and are worth extra points.

It's the way that you push the disks that makes things complicated. No two pieces (of any kind) are allowed to stay on adjacent squares. When you're spindle lands next to another piece. You have to move one of them (your choice) one square in the opposite direction. This doesn't amount to much early in the game, but as the players make more moves, the game board starts to get pretty crowded with disks, and you can make a single move that sets off a chain reaction that will ultimately effect pieces all the way across the board. That is where the real strategy comes in. Because you chose which piece to move, you can control the path of the chain reaction. Thinking ahead is mandatory.

In my opinion, this makes it a good game for kids. The rules are relatively simple and can be picked up in a few minutes. The real complexity creeps up on you as the game progresses. It teaches you to think critically about the consequences of your moves and visualize the future effects. I can absolutely recommend this game. We haven't tried it with more than two players yet (allows up to 4) but I suspect the game play gets even more fun with more people. For one thing there are more other players to try to knock off the board. There are some special rules about that I didn't go into, but it suffices to say that you don't want to get knocked off.

Game: Repello
Cost: $$
Players: 1-4
Play time: 10-20 minutes
Luck/Strategy Balance: 0 Luck, Totally Strategic