I love to play board games. Yet, having two juniors of my own has consumed a lot of my free time so I no longer have the time nor the energy to play physical board games with my friends. That's why I really appreciate the recent emergence of iOS versions of many popular board games.
Today, I will share about a newly released tile-placement board game that cleverly hides its abstract gameplay in a colorful and strong thematic packaging, entitled For The Win.
For The Win
For The Win started as a Kickstarter project that got successfully funded back in Feb 2012. Michael Mindes, founder of Tasty Minstrel Games started the project as a way to pursue his dream in developing a fun and thematic abstract game. Choosing internet memes as its main theme, For the Win features five popular Internet characters: zombies, pirates, ninjas, aliens and monkeys.
Due to its birth on Kickstarter, the board game was produced in a limited amount. Thus, if you're late to the party, it's almost impossible for you to get a copy of the game. Thankfully, the publisher decided to develop an iPhone version of the game.
Rules and Objectives
For The Win is designed as a two-player turn-based game, where each player is assigned two copies of each of the five characters above. Even though you start the game by placing two monkeys at the center of the playing area (a.k.a. The Grid), The Grid can shortly transform to a new shape as the game progresses.
This is a tile-placement game, hence in each of your turn, you can perform one of the following as your action:
- place a new tile on an empty space,
- move an active tile to an empty space adjacent to its current position,
- use an active tile to shove an entire horizontal/vertical line,
- flip your tile to refresh your character's status, or
- use the special ability of your character.
When you place a new tile, you can't place it in adjacent to any of your placed tiles. And, whatever you do during your turn, you can't disconnect the tiles. Tiles are considered adjacent and connected to all eight tiles surrounding it, both orthogonally and diagonally.
The game is played in rounds. At the start of each round, each player is given five actions as his/her budget. By taking turns, each player is allowed to play one or two actions per turn. At the start of the next round, the game automatically switches the starting player. The game continues until one of the players is able to connect five of his/her active tiles that represent all five characters.
The Characters and Their Special Abilities
Each of the characters in this game has a special ability. These abilities may be used as many times as the players like, as long as the character is active. Each time a special ability is played, the character is flipped to indicate that its status in inactive. While a character is inactive, it cannot move, shove, nor use its special ability. The only action that it can do is to refresh itself, i.e. flipping it from inactive to active.
Before you play the game, you need to know what these characters are and what their special abilities are. Even though the game includes a tutorial, I'd suggest you read the rulebook, because it explains the rules much more clearly.
- The Alien can pull any tile on The Grid to a space that is adjacent to it.
- The Monkey can flip all adjacent tiles, causing their statuses to be changed.
- The Ninja can move to any empty space on The Grid.
- The Pirate can blast an adjacent tile to any empty space on The Grid.
- The Zombie can infect an adjacent tile. The infected tile is removed from The Grid and replaced with a Zombie tile (yours or opponent's) that has not been added to The Grid. If all of the Zombie tiles have been added, this action will deactivate the target tile.
What I Love About The Game
Don't be fooled by the fun graphics and simple rules, this is a real deep-thinking game. Just like Chess and Go, classic games have a simple rule yet they may take a long time to master. For The Win is a new game but it has all the right potentials of becoming a classic game. There are a lot of things that you need to consider with each of your moves; you need to consider the current board state, the number of remaining actions that you and your opponent have, and the character tiles that your opponent hasn't played.
The initial iOS version is really designed to provide an awesome solitaire experience. It has a lot of AI options that you can choose from with five different playing strategies and three difficulty levels. If you're still trying to win your first few games consistently, you may want to choose an AI opponent that is easier.
The iOS version also allows you to extend the game into a 4-player game. Even though I haven't really tried to play a 4-player game until completion, I figured The Grid would get all crowded.
Even though I have only won a handful of games, you might find these tips quite useful for your first few games:
- Know how many actions you have left and who's playing first for the next round. Being overrun by four consecutive moves in two subsequent turns is not a good thing.
- Use your monkeys wisely. Placing the monkey in-between three opponent's tiles is really strategic. Your two actions (flip and refresh) can negate up to three of your opponent's actions.
- Try to save two actions as you're getting close to the end of the round. You can win most games by playing two or more consecutive actions.
- Remember that you can also win by simply moving your character diagonally or shoving a line in your favor.
For The Win is an excellent new tactical game that has the potentials to become a classic. Even though the current version doesn't have any online multiplayer option yet, the AI opponents are difficult enough to keep you challenged for quite a long time. If you love deep-thinking games like Chess or Go, you will love playing For The Win.
For the Win is available for iPhone
Get it on the App Store: iPhone
App was provided for our honest review.